Updated: Jan 11, 2020
Whether you are 15, 30, 60 years old or older, we all care about the health and appearance of the largest organ of our body, our skin! In this post we'll provide you with the basics on skin anatomy, what happens over time to our skin, and the benefits and types of skin exfoliation.
What is skin?
Your skin consist of a few layers which stack up as follows:
The innermost layer is the hypodermis also known as the subcutaneous layer. It's about 3 cm thick or less and is where fatty tissue resides. The dermis, only about 2-4 mm, is the middle layer of skin that provides skin structure and contains cells that produce elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid. Finally, the outer layer of skin that we see is the epidermis which is the thinnest at only about 1 mm thick.
Importance of Skin Renewal
Our skin requires continual renewal in order to stay healthy and look it's best. We regularly grow new skin cells that develop within the innermost layer of the epidermis and slowly migrate in about a month's time until they appear flattened and dead at the visible outer surface of our skin. There, skin cells are naturally shed during the renewal process.
There is also melanin pigment developed within the epidermis which is distributed to the skin cells that migrate up to the surface. Sun exposure causes an increase in melanin, whose job is to absorb harmful UV rays, and this is what makes the skin darken or tan. Melanin pigment determines skin color and can also cause hyperpigmentation known as uneven dark spots.
Over time, our skin becomes photo-aged by regular sun exposure and this is what happens:
our skin cell turn-over slows down (relative to healthy skin)
damaged cells stick together more which causes irregular shedding of the dead skin on the surface
irregular shedding of our skin cells leads to less protective skin function
irregular shedding causes our skin to have dry patches and uneven texture
damaged surface skin can also look sallow, yellow, gray
less protective skin results in more irritant penetration which can cause redness
sun damaged skin also has overactive and uneven melanin production which results in areas with too much pigment (hyperpigmention dark spots) and areas with too little pigmentation (hypopigmentation light spots)
in the dermis collagen is degraded which causes fine lines and wrinkles
abnormal dilation of blood vessels can occur and this can cause skin reddening and spider veins to appear
Needless to say, sun protection in your everyday life is very important to slow skin damage over time.
Exfoliation for Skin Improvement
As we saw above, improper shedding of our skin cells leads to a dull complexion as well as rough, dry skin and other problems. In order to improve our skin's appearance we need to accelerate cell shedding (exfoliation) and encourage cell renewal.
Therefore, a simple way to improve our skin appearance after it's been damaged is to perform proactive and regular exfoliation. Exfoliation, which is superficial skin resurfacing, removes the outermost layer of skin which stimulates cell renewal and turn-over and leads to newer, healthier skin.
Exfoliation accomplishes all of this:
speeds skin’s natural renewal process