Let's get right into it, then. Without getting into too much of your skin's biochemistry, it's essential to know that it's made up of three main layers that harvest more layers in between. The outermost layer, called the epidermis, contains cells that produce pigment and protect the immune system. The layer underneath, which hosts follicles, oil glands, sweat glands, nerves, and blood vessels, is called the dermis. And finally, the subcutaneous tissue (or hypodermis) harvests fat cells, veins, and arteries. Below we've got a crazy cross-section of what our skin looks like (image 1). This is obviously an illustration - as looking at the actual skin under an electron microscope (in-vitro) is much more complex (image 2).
The epidermis, the outermost layer, is further broken down into 5 layers containing different cell structures. It is essential to start from the base of the epidermis and move upward to the outermost layer as skin cells grow, change, and die off in that direction.
Picture the skin like a living suit of armor that not only repairs itself but also sends major signals to the rest of your body to decide what processes or hormones to release. At the bottom of the epidermis lays the basal layer, which hosts a single layer of cuboidal basal cells that give birth to all epidermal cells. As the cells move up through the skin, they become their respective layers, and so starts the party. The pigment of your skin actually comes from this (by melanocytes) layer and is transferred through to keratinocytes ( keratin-producing cells) that are responsible for the protection of the body from invaders. Skin cells born here take about 8 weeks to reach the top; the dead cells remain in the outermost layer for about 2 weeks.
As soon as the basal cells undergo mitosis (cell division), the cells move into the spinous layer. These spiny-looking cells get their name from their many interconnections with other cells around them. Their net-like structure as a whole protects the skin while continuously communicating with each other. As the cells grow older, they make way for newer cells underneath and become the granular layer (seen in the darker thin layer below). These cells develop a grainy appearance due to the keratin filaments that form dense little spheres containing lipids.
Below the epidermis, we find a living potpourri of elastic tissue, capillaries, reticular fibers, collagen, nerve endings, blood vessels, the whole lot! Some essential proteins to note would be collagen and elastin, which take up about 70% of the dermal weight and play a crucial role in the firming of the skin and reducing the forces that may deform the shape of the skin (forming wrinkles, sagging, etc.).
The Hypodermis or Subcutaneous Tissue
Consisting mainly of fat, the hypodermis is the primary structural support for the skin, insulation, and cushioning for underlying bones and muscles. Within the fat cells, we can also find nerves and blood vessels.
With a deeper understanding of our skin’s structure, we can realize its role in our overall health and the importance of a customized routine - as every skin type is unique. The foundation of GOA’s formulations relies on lifestyle-specific data to get to the root of the issue. And so we’ve designed a 60-second Skin Quiz that would custom-build your routine. Take a look below!