We're delighted to welcome back skincare expert Natalie Fisher, aka The Derm Nurse. We're lucky enough to have Natalie write a series of guest blogs for us, where she shares her knowledge on all things skin!
In today’s blog, I’m taking you back to skin school! Nothing too fancy or complex but let's talk a little about the structure of skin so that you can apply this knowledge to skincare ingredients found in your products.
Skin is so important, essentially it acts as a bodyguard (I’m picturing Kevin Costner, it helps). It is a waterproof and flexible barrier which provides protection for our internal organs. When our skin is compromised, it can lead to all sorts of problems from infections to flares of existing skin conditions. This is why it is so important that we don’t take our skin for granted and continue to look after it on a daily basis.
Anatomy of the skin
The skin is divided into 3 main layers. The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin, sandwiched in the middle is the dermis and finally at the bottom is the subcutaneous layer. Within these layers are sub-layers and structures.
When thinking about skincare, we are mostly concerned with the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is responsible for giving your skin its colour and for making new skin cells. The dermis is where you will find sweat glands, oil glands, nerve endings and hair roots.
In recent years the ‘skin barrier’ (lipid barrier) has been talked about more frequently and rightly so! We are generally recognising the importance of keeping the barrier intact and ‘happy’. The reason for this is that if this barrier is compromised your skin may feel dry, irritated, itchy and sensitive.
So now I’m hoping you’re relating the skin barrier to the layers of skin I mentioned above and you would be right, the barrier is found on the outermost layer, the epidermis. Not wanting to over complicate things, the epidermis has a few layers of its own and the very outermost layer is called the stratum corneum, this is what I want you to picture when you’re thinking about your skin barrier. Still with me? I hope so!
Let's talk more about the stratum corneum. It is covered in a very fine film called the acid mantle. The acid mantle, as the name suggests, is slightly acidic sitting roughly between a pH of 4.5-6. Beneath this, the stratum corneum is a brick wall type structure. The bricks are the corneocytes (dried skin cells ready to shed) and the mortar is made up of lipids.
Keeping your skin’s barrier happy
So the question is how do we keep this wonderful protective barrier happy? Firstly don’t over exfoliate. Exfoliation is great and I preach the benefits daily but it’s a balance, as soon as you start to overdo it you compromise that barrier. If you notice your skin becoming a little more reactive or sensitive, hold back on the exfoliation for a few days and keep your skincare routine simple.
Invest in a great barrier repairing moisturiser, preferably one with omegas, lipids and ceramides (to replace that missing ‘mortar’ if needed). There are also studies to support the use of omega supplements if your skin is dry, so if you are a fan of supplements and aren’t already taking omega’s then maybe consider introducing one.
So there we have it, the basic anatomy and physiology of skin school! Essentially don’t get too weighed down with the science, learn to read your skin and recognise what it needs. The more you look after it, the better its ability to look after you.
Natalie |The Derm Nurse
We couldn't agree more with Natalie's approach to exfoliation. Balance is the key. Removing the built up layers of dead surface skin, means you will see smoother, brighter looking skin beneath, but you need to choose an exfoliator that is gentle. This is more important than ever when treating the neck, breast and decolletage area.The Stellar Decolletage LUMINOUS PERFECTOR TREATMENT POLISH exfoliates with a gentle, non–abrasive method. Refines pores and prepares your skin for deep conditioning.
Click through to find out more about our LUMINOUS PERFECTOR TREATMENT POLISH here.