Your skin is the largest organ of your body. If you’re an average adult, you’ve got about eight pounds and 22 square feet of it. Skin is active, living tissue, and each of its three layers have jobs to do to protect the body and keep it healthy.
The outermost layer of the skin is the epidermis. It provides a waterproof barrier against germs, toxins and pollutants. This layer contains the cells that form the rough exterior surface of the skin that continuously sloughs off and regenerates. It also contains cells that alert your immune system to any infectious invaders.
Just below the epidermis is the dermis. This layer contains tough connective tissue, as well as hair follicles and sweat glands. It also contains collagen and elastin, the fibers that give skin its strength and elasticity. Blood vessels found here regulate body temperature, and nerves pick up sensations and relay the information to the brain.
The third layer is called the subcutis. It is made mostly of fat and connective tissue. The reserves of fat stored in this layer act a cushion to help protect your bones and muscles from bumps, bruises and falls.
Your skin gets its color from specialized cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce the pigment melanin. People who live in sunny climates have more melanin than people who live in climates with less sun exposures, so their skin is darker. Melanocytes reside in the epidermis.
People in all climates need to keep their skin vibrant and healthy so it can continue to perform its many jobs for the body. That means we have to take good care of our skin. Good skin care doesn’t have to be a complex process. It can be broken down to a few simple steps. Here are some tips you can follow:
Protect you skin from the sun. Too much sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other skin problems, and it increases your risk for skin cancer. To protect yourself, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30. Avoid the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s ray are strongest. Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a wide-brimmed hat.
Eat a healthful diet. What you eat is as important as what you put on your skin. Your diet can improve your skin’s health from the inside out, so healthy skin begins with a healthful diet. Foods that have been found through research to be skin-healthy include mangoes, tomatoes, kale and soy. Also, cutting your alcohol consumption could lower your risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer. Quitting smoking helps keep your skin healthy as well.
Keep your stress to a minimum. Scientists have identified some links between stress and some skin problems including itchy skin, scaly skin, hand rashes and flaky, oily or waxy patches on the scalp. If you’re struggling with stress and it’s affecting your skin, try stress reduction techniques such as tai chi, yoga or meditation.
Build a daily skin care routine. A daily routine can help you maintain overall skin health and improve specific concerns you may have, such as acne, scarring or dark spots. Start simply with a cleanser, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen. As you see how your skin reacts, you can add other products, such as an exfoliant, mask or spot treatment.
Keep your skin hydrated. Moisturizers revive the skin’s ability to repair and renew naturally. A good moisturizer will seal in moisture and keep the top layer of your skin hydrated. Choose one that has a humectant, which will attract moisture, an occlusive agent, which will retain moisture in the skin and an emollient, which will smooth out the spaces between the skin cells.
Take care of your skin so it can take care of you.