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The Skin Your In

You’re skin, the integumentary system, is an organ because it consists of different tissues joined together to perform specific activities.  It’s one of the largest organs of the body in terms of surface area.  Of all the body’s organs, none is more exposed to inspection, disease, and injury than the skin.  In fact, diseases of internal organs may be revealed by changes in the skin such as color changes or abdominal eruptions or rashes.  The skin’s exposure to the environment makes it susceptible to damage from trauma, sunlight, and microbes.  More interrelated factors may affect both the appearance and health of the skin, including nutrition, hygiene, circulation, age, immunity, genetic factors, psychological state and drugs. 

Structurally, the skin consists of two principal parts, the epidermis and the dermis.  The epidermis is composed of stratified squamous epithelium and contains four distinct types of cells:  keratinocytes (helps waterproof the skin), melanocytes (responsible for skin pigment and absorption of ultraviolet (UV) light), Langerhan’s cells (assist in the immune response), and Granstein cells (greater resistance to UV radiation and assist in immune response).  The dermis is composed of connective tissue containing collagenous and elastic fibers.  Numerous blood vessels, nerves, glands and hair follicles are embedded in the dermis.

The numerous functions of the skin are as follows:

  1. Regulation of body temperature.  In response to high environmental temperature or strenuous exercise, the production of perspiration by sudoriferous (sweat) glands helps to lower body temperature back to normal.  Changes in the flow of blood of the skin also alter its insulating properties and help to adjust body temperature.
  2. Protection.  The skin covers the body and provides a physical barrier that protects underlying tissues from physical abrasion, bacterial invasion, dehydration and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
  3. Reception of stimuli.  The skin contains numerous nerve endings and receptors that detect stimuli related to temperature, touch pressure and pain.
  4. Excretion.  Not only does perspiration assume a role in helping to regulate normal body temperature, it also assists in the excretion of small amounts of water, salts and several organic compounds.
  5. Synthesis of Vitamin D.  The term vitamin D actually refers to a group of closely related compounds synthesized naturally from a precursor molecule present in the skin upon exposure to UV radiation.  The precursor is converted to other compounds in the liver and kidneys and ultimately to vitamin D, which stimulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from dietary foods.  Vitamin D is actually a hormone, since it is produced in one location in the body, transported by the blood, and then exerts its effect in another location.
  6. Immunity.  Certain cells of the epidermis are important components of immunity, your ability to fight disease by producing antibodies.

Sebaceous (Oil) glands secrete an oily substance called sebum, a mixture of fats, cholesterol, proteins and inorganic salts.  Sebum helps keep hair from drying and becoming brittle, forms a protective film that prevents excessive evaporation of water from the skin, keeps the skin soft and pliable and inhibits the growth of certain bacteria.  When sebaceous glands of the face become enlarged because of accumulated sebum, acne lesions called blackheads develop.  Since sebum is nutritive to certain bacteria, pimples or boils often result.  The color of blackheads is due to melanin and oxidized oil, not dirt.

Credit is given to the ancient Egyptians for the practice of exfoliation.  In the Middle Ages, wine was used as a chemical exfoliant, with tartaric acid (a white crystalline acid precipitated out of wine) as the active agent.  New skin cells are created in the skin’s lower layer, the dermis.  Over time, about 15 to 30 days, they migrate to the surface becoming more saturated with keratin (i.e., keratinocytes).  Exfoliation removes the outer layer to reveal the newer skin beneath.  This shedding of the outer layer unclogs pores, keeps kin clean, and helps reduce acne breakouts.  Exfoliation is important for men too as it exposes the hair follicle, allowing a better shave.  Exfoliation can dry the skin and therefore it’s important to moisturize during exfoliation or immediately following (our exfoliant soap bars have added moisturizers to reduce and prevent dryness).

It is safe to say that living in an environment that is bombarded with chemicals, pollutants, and negative agents combined with lack of exercise and poor eating habits, our skin is exposed to a never ending onslaught of negative feeds.  Even exercise puts stress on the skin such that it justifies a rejuvenation treatment such as the muscles would require additional protein and carbohydrates.  It is this thought behind all Soap Essential soaps, to provide a nutritive and nourishing environment for enhanced conditioning of the skin by way of the quality oils used during the simple act of bathing.  The addition of aromatics through quality essential oils further enriches the experience.


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