When we were babies, we had flawless skin. No lines, no wrinkles, no sun damage, and no acne. Virtually no imperfections! Wouldn’t it be nice to have skin like a child again?
Unfortunately, we can’t rewind time. What we can do is understand the way our skin works, and accurately fight the effects of aging. Learning about the structure of our skin is an important step in this process as it will help determine the correct methods of attack.
The Biology of our Skin
The epidermis, in short, is the outer layer of our skin. It is composed of anywhere between 4 or 5 layers which act together as a barrier against inhospitable environments (such as UV rays), by preventing pathogens from entering. Because of the epidermis, our skin is able to resist infection. Additionally, the epidermis hydrates the skin and regulates the amount of water released from the body into the atmosphere.
The dermis is located beneath the epidermis. It is made of connective tissue such as collagen and elastin which cushion the body from stress and strain. The dermis is separated into two layers, the stratum papillare, and the stratum reticulare. Papillary region is composed of loose connective tissue whereas the reticular region is composed of dense, irregular connective tissue. Together, the epidermis and dermis create what is called the cutis.
The hypodermis, commonly referred to as subcutaneous tissue is the lowest layer of the skin. Mainly used for fat storage, the hypodermis also contains fibroblasts, adipose cells, and microphages. It houses hair follicle roots and large blood vessels and nerves which supervise the outer skin from burns and other external harm.
The bottom layers are constantly replenishing the epidermis. Over the span of our lives, our collagen and elastin production in the dermis deteriorates, therefore the epidermal cells become thinner.
The decrease in epidermal cells is actually 10% per decade. This also causes dryness as the epidermal cells become less sticky, releasing more moisture while maintaining less. Without a strong epidermis, we become more susceptible to sun damage and other external elements.
It is really in the dermis that causes our skin to age the harshest. As the collagen and elastin fibers wear out, sagging skin and wrinkles form. The skin becomes fragile because the epidermis isn’t receiving the nutrients it requires, add that onto the thinning of fat cells in the hypodermis and aging become very visible and real.