Skin Care Basics – Four Steps for a Healthy Skin

The skin is made up of layers, each with its own important components. The layer on the outside is called the epidermis. The epidermis is the part of your skin you can see. At the bottom of the epidermis, new skin cells are forming. When the cells are ready, they start moving toward the top of your epidermis. This trip takes about 2 weeks to a month. As newer cells continue to move up, older cells near the top die and rise to the surface of your skin. What you see on your hands (and everywhere else on your body) are really dead skin cells.

Skin Basics

Functions of Skin

  • Protection: an anatomical barrier from pathogens and damage between the internal and external environment in bodily defense; Langerhans cells in the skin are part of the adaptive immune system.
  • Sensation: contains a variety of nerve endings that react to heat and cold, touch, pressure, vibration, and tissue injury.
  • Heat regulation: the skin contains a blood supply far greater than its requirements which allows precise control of energy loss by radiation, convection and conduction.
  • Control of evaporation: the skin provides a relatively dry and semi-impermeable barrier to fluid loss.
  • Aesthetics and communication: others see our skin and can assess our mood, physical state and attractiveness.
  • Storage and synthesis: acts as a storage center for lipids and water, as well as a means of synthesis of vitamin D by action of UV on certain parts of the skin.
  • Excretion: sweat contains urea, however its concentration is 1/130th that of urine, hence excretion by sweating is at most a secondary function to temperature regulation.
  • Absorption: the cells comprising the outermost 0.25–0.40 mm of the skin are “almost exclusively supplied by external oxygen”, although the “contribution to total respiration is negligible”
  • Water resistance: The skin acts as a water resistant barrier so essential nutrients aren’t washed out of the body.

Importance of skin Hygiene.

The layers of the epidermis (left). Melanocyte...
The layers of the epidermis (left). Melanocytes (rlght), located in the bottom epidermal layer, produce melanin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Proper skin hygiene is important because unclean skin favors the development of pathogenic organisms. The dead cells that continually slough off the epidermis mix with the secretions of the sweat and sebaceous glands and the dust found on the skin form a filthy layer on its surface. If not washed away, the slurry of sweat and sebaceous secretions mixed with dirt and dead skin is decomposed by bacterial flora, producing a foul smell. Functions of the skin are disturbed when it is excessively dirty; it becomes more easily damaged, the release of antibacterial compounds decreases and dirty skin is more prone to develop infections. Cosmetics should be used carefully on the skin because these may cause allergic reactions.

Four Steps for a Healthy Skin

  1. Cleansing.  Find a good Cleanser that your skin responds well to, and stick with it. Choose a Creamy Cleanser if you have dry skin or a Clear Cleanser if you have oily skin. Be careful not to cleanse too often, you risk over-cleansing skin, you really only need to wash your face at night to remove makeup and sunscreen, which can clog pores. If you have dry skin, consider cold cream. Use warm water to loosen dirt and clogged pores. Use a dime-sized bit of cleanser, and then rinse with cool or lukewarm water. In the morning, a splash of lukewarm water is all you need. Never wash your face with hot or cold water (both can cause broken capillaries).
  2. Exfoliate. If you start properly exfoliating your skin, you will notice an almost immediate difference. Put a dab of cleanser on a damp washcloth and massage the cleanser into my skin in a circular motion. After a quick rinse, any sign of dead skin is erased. You can also exfoliate skin via microdermabrasion, chemical peels and Retinoids. Scrubs work by removing the top layer of dead skin cells that tend to dull your complexion. Make sure you use a gentle scrub with tiny grains. Big grains in cheap scrubs can tear skin and cause more harm than good. Retinoids (such as Retin-A  or the more moisturizing Renova) also work by removing the top layer of dead skin cells while also generating collagen in the skin. Skincare experts consider Retinoids to be a miracle skin saver.
  3. Moisturizing.  if you have dry skin, you should invest in a Basic Moisturizer. How much should you moisturize? Your skin will tell you. When your skin is tight, it’s crying out for moisture. Be careful not to over-moisturize — this can clog pores.
  4.  Sun Screen. Major cause of wrinkles is sun damage, so it’s important to use a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF from your early years on even in winter and on cloudy days. A great trick is to purchase two moisturizers: One for night and one for day that includes UV protection. Don’t use moisturizers with sunscreen at night, make sure it contains Mexoryl or Helioplex.

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