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If The Epidermis Is Dead, What’s The Point In Taking Care Of It?
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The skin is a fascinating, multi-layered wonder. Two major layers comprise it: the deeper dermis consists of two layers, and the epidermis - the outer layer - consists of five more. For a very long time, we have been led to believe that this top layer is nothing but useless, dead cells.
But if it’s dead anyway, the sensible question is, then how come we are told by our neighbours, our dermatologist, and that girl on the TV ad to moisturize? Is there any other point to even taking care of the skin at all? If it’s dead, then it’s safe to assume that chemical peels and extremely abrasive exfoliation methods are okay.
To answer this question we have to first understand how the skin works and go on a brief crash course in skin 101. The dermis is where the connective fibres collagen and elastin are found. Over time, as a result of day-to-day stress, product usage and the natural course of aging, collagen and elastin begin to turn lax and loose. The dermal layer ages at least one percent annually by the time a person reaches 25. Essentially, the dermis is where the skin ages, not in the epidermis.
The lowest layer of the epidermis (next to the dermis), the basal layer (medically known as stratum basale), is where skin cells generated by the dermis are pushed up and eventually “die”. So for any product to take effect they would have to bypass all five layers of the epidermis and be absorbed in the dermis, because this is where aging, blood flow, and all those living thing stuff occurs. To effectively permeate the epidermal layers, one would have to use some kind of acidic exfoliator like glycolic peels. Another way which allows you to penetrate the dermis is to scrape off the epidermis through abrasive methods like microdermabrasion.
So that’s good, right? Well, the acids and the abrasive methods are a good way to shave off those “dead skin cells’, but they are also a really good way for you to damage your skin early and spend lots of money in the future trying to fix the casualty.
First, the epidermis, while being technically dead, exists for a unique reason. It works as a protective barrier to keep away pathogens, harsh chemicals, dirt, UV rays and mechanical damage. This is accomplished via a series of barriers: physical (keratins and proteins), chemical (the skin’s natural lipids and acids), immune system, the stratum corneum’s (the epidermis’ topmost layer) watery surface, and the presence of an acidic pH and natural microorganisms on the epidermis, which make the skin inhospitable to opportunistic organisms.
Now if we remove that protective layer with acidic peeling and dermabrasive techniques, not only are we actually eliminating our first line of defence, but we are also forcing the dermis to prematurely release collagen and elastin to the outer layer to fix the damage. So now all the essential components – collagen, proteins, elastin, enzymes, oxygen, and blood supply – contained in the dermis are being depleted in that layer just to make up for the loss in the outer layer. And remember, it is in the dermis that aging occurs. When the supply there is depleted, the normal response is of course, for it to age.
So what actually happens is that the epidermis may look okay, but the dermis thins out and ageing is hastened.
It’s always better to go for skin treatments like macrodermal facials and RF skin tightening that encourage production of collagen the natural way, without peeling away the skin’s natural barrier. Quick fix treatments may produce astounding short-term results, but by taking away your protective barrier, they also expose you to higher risks of infection and ageing. Less intensive treatments may take longer, but they are safer and give you more long-lasting sustainable results.
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