Currently a large portion of what I do has to do with skin care. Your skin is the biggest organ that you have and it has several different functions that help you through life. It creates the barrier between you and the outside environment – helping to protect you from radiation (the sun) and pollutants in the air. It holds in moisture, transports nutrients, and eliminates toxins. It regulates your body temperature and it produces vitamin D. It contains nerve endings allowing us to feeling the physical sensations around us.
The top layer of the skin is called the epidermis. It is comprised of layers of epidermal cells. These layers help seal the skin and only small molecules can penetrate these layers from the outside. Oxygen and various other gases are one example. Essential oils are also comprised of molecules small enough to be absorbed through the epidermis. As you age, the number of layers diminishes and it no longer holds in the same amount of moisture. Once of the reasons your skin gets drier with age. Epidermal cells are continuously created in the lower level of the epidermis and they move upwards to eventually form the top level of your skin before they are washed or rubbed away. Skin cells take about 4 weeks from when they are first formed to when they fall away from your body. I occasionally have small patches of psoriasis which is basically your body mistakenly causing an overproduction of skin cells.
Underneath the epidermis is the dermis. Here you will find collagen and elastin – part of the connective tissue in the dermis. Collagen and elastin can change as you age and are influence by factors such as stress. In the book “Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair, and Skin Care” by Erich Keller, he gives an analogy that I really like of what happens with elastin. “A further main component of the connective tissue is elastin. As we age, cross-connections occur between the filaments of connective tissue that were originally parallel to each other, and bind the water in the spaces between them, like a coarsely-knit sweater that initially leaves much room for air to circulate, but that becomes more and more matted through frequent laundering in hot water.”
Many factors influence the condition of your skin throughout your life. Some you can’t necessarily control like your age or hereditary factors. But some you can such as your stress level, how much sun exposure you get, what you put in your body, and what you put on your body. Many people don’t realize that what you put on your skin is often absorbed into your body. If what you put on your skin contains ingredients that are foreign to your system, then your body has to work harder to deal with that.
Give some thought this week to how you treat your skin and how you might make even a small change to improve what you do to help maintain this often mistreated organ!