As much as skincare has existed since the dawn of man, there are interesting facts about the skin that a good chunk of the general population is still not aware of. We are talking about irrefutable truths about the skin whose knowledge could help you put up a spirited fight against acne or a problematic complexion. Besides, ignorance of some of these facts about the skin system could be the root of a majority of skincare flaws, myths misconceptions that are keeping you from having a flawless complexion and getting your dream skin. Luckily for you, we have unearthed some of the least-known amazing facts about the skin that you're likely to find useful in sprucing up your skincare regimen.
1. Your Skin Sheds and Renews Itself Without Fail Every 28 Days
The same way a snake sloughs off its scales to allow room for a new coat to grow in its replacement, your skin's epidermis also sheds and new cells take its place about once a month. The replacement and renewal process is so consistent that experts believe that dead skin cells account for close to 50% of the dust that you will find laden in your house. In fact, your skin sheds more than 50,000 cells every cycle (even in your sleep) and these dead skin cells collectively account for billions of tons of dust in our atmosphere.
Surprising, huh? But this is actually the reason regular exfoliation is such a keynote feature of proper skincare. You see, by aiding nature in its effort to keep your body's largest organ remain healthy, you are increasing your chances of having a bright-looking and blemish-free complexion.
Speaking of exfoliation, you can either opt for a physical exfoliator that literally removes the dead skin, in addition to other impurities, from your face or a chemical agent that employs a mild alpha hydroxy acid to dissolve them. While dermatologists recommend a once-a-week exfoliation routine, people with oily, combination or acne should exfoliate at least twice a week to stay looking fresh.
2. Just like Your Mental Health, Your Skin Responds Negatively to Chronic Stress
Wondering why it becomes increasingly hard to avoid pimples when you are always stressed up and cranky? It turns out that your skin can feel and respond to your emotions too. This is one of the crazy facts about the human skin that most people will rarely acknowledge but whose effect is arguably undeniable.
Here's the thing; chronic emotional stress triggers an insanely high amount of cortisol in your system accompanied by inflammatory molecules known as cytokines that are then spread throughout the body. Typically, this culminates in a sporadic rise of inflammatory markers that trigger a matrix of enzymes and metalloproteinases that break down collagen bonds in the skin's structure. Now, considering that collagen is the protein structure that gives your skin that elusive bouncy and youthful elasticity, you can begin to appreciate the untold havoc that mental stress wrecks on your general appearance.
3. Your Skin Says A lot of About the General State of Your Health
Among the numerous cool facts about the skin is that it is the last barrier between you and a slew of environmental aggressors such as UV radiation and pollutants. And being the largest organ, it says a lot about your internal health including the state of critical life-supporting elements. Persistent dry or itchy skin, for example, can be a tell-tale sign that something is awry wrong with your internal organs and scheduling an urgent trip to your dermatologist ought to rank high in your to-do list.
Acne, on the other hand, is often the aftermath of atrocious hormonal imbalance or even insulin resistance starting to crop up. Don't also forget that many cancers or autoimmune disorders will initially present themselves as unexplained lesions that refuse to go away or extremely ashy skin that proves hard to treat.
Here's a quick round-up of some of the notable changes in your skin that could be veiled signs for a more serious underlying problem.
- Thickened and shiny lumps in your skin aka plaques could be an early stage symptom of diabetes
- Darkened skin tone and hyperpigmentation may signify melasma or diabetes
- Shingles and itchy rashes are mainly associated with viral infections
- Lymphoma often starts as chronic itchy skin
- Xanthomos are a sign of an untreated high level of cholesterol
As you can see, paying close attention to your skin can be handsome health dividends when you catch serious diseases early enough for a successful treatment course.
4. Skin Aging Starts as Early as 20
One of the not-so-fun facts about the skin and muscles that no one likes to be reminded of is that ageing is not a reserve of 40,50 or 60-year-olds. Ageing, defined as the progressive decline in the skin's collagen volume, starts as soon as you turn 25 years. The depleting collagen levels typically translate to the onset of fine lines, sagging skin and wrinkles that get increasingly worse with the passage of time if nothing is done to arrest this damage.
This is the reason it is advisable to start a comprehensive anti-ageing routine as early as you can. Normally, it calls for the application of vitamin C products and a consortium of other antioxidants in a bid to neutralize the injurious impact of free radicals and UV radiation that usually aggravates the formation of wrinkly skin.
Speaking of ageing, as much as your genetic make-up plays an incredible role in how well (or badly) your skin ages, external factors have a bigger role to play. Unprotected sun exposure or smoking, for instance, accounts for 95% of premature ageing regardless of how resistant your genes are to physical deterioration. So slap on that broad-spectrum sunscreen as soon as today to lessen the chances of developing unsightly sun spots and liver spots later in your life.
5. Your Skin Harbours More than 1000 Bacteria Species at any Given Time
Of the more unusual fun facts about the skin system, is that it is a melting pot of more than 1000 bacteria strains. While this can sound a bit alarming, you will be relieved to know that a good chunk of these bacteria is completely benign. In fact, most of them are beneficial to the skin as they assist in healing, reduce inflammation and fighting off inflammation from the inside out.
Speaking of bacteria, scientists have traced body odour to the activity of the bacteria harboured by the skin. So that characteristic offputting stench that we all love to hate is a product of some of these bacteria eating and digesting the fatty secretions from the skin's apocrine sweat glands.
That said, given that your skin is essentially a safe haven for all kinds of bacteria, it places a lot of emphasis on the need for a proper hygiene and cleansing routine to prevent colonisation by the wrong strain e.g the acne-causing p.acnes. Regular cleansing also helps get rid of the sebum-and-dead-cells mixture that could potentially clog up your pores and ignite an unwanted flareup.
6. The Importance of Moisturization Transcends the Supposed Cosmetic Benefits
Keeping your skin well-moisturized and nourished using products containing skincare ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid and ceramides are not just good for your skin from a cosmetic standpoint. Dry skin, especially in the winter, can be harmful.
You see, the skin requires a healthy barrier to keep infections at bay. Dry skin, which can be a result of improper moisturization, is broken, cracked and poor barrier as far as this is concerned. It also increases the risk of infestation by fungi, bacteria or viruses due to the inexistence of a water-based film that stops them from reaching the underlying layers of the skin.
7. Your Skin Has Varying Levels of Thickness
You probably already knew this, but chances are you weren't aware that there is a very good reason for having trouble spots with significantly thicker skin than the rest of the body. As much as having thicker skin in your soles and heels may seem a bit of an inconvenience, the denser epidermis in these areas is a product of millions of years of evolution with the objective of shielding these areas that are frequently in contact with the ground from easy bruising.
The same applies to areas that are likely to experience frequent friction such as your elbows, ankles and knee caps. And for these areas, using a moisturizer that incorporates a chemical peel (e.g lactic acid) ought to be sufficient enough to break down and exfoliate this thick skin in case you need them to look and feel smoother than they presently are.
On the other side of the divide, your skin is thinnest in the eyelids and outer lips. You should, thus, take utmost care while handling these areas to avert accidental microtears.
8. Your Skin is Your Personal Thermostat
Apart from keeping foreign material away, your skin also plays an incredible role in ensuring that your internal organs remain at a given optimal temperature regardless of the prevailing exterior thermal conditions. This process, which is known as thermoregulation, is the reason human beings are among the most diverse species on the planet able to thrive in a range of contrasting environments and survive extreme weather/seasonal fluctuations.
Thermoregulation is achieved in various ways - one of them is through sweating. Your skin is capable of releasing as much as three or four gallons of sweat in extremely hot weather just to keep your internal organs from overheating. In fact, you probably have more than four million apocrine sweat glands distributed throughout the body. These glands are so important in thermoregulation that the only places that don't sweat are the margins of the lips. eardrum and the nailbed.
Speaking of thermoregulation, sweating is not the only way your skin keeps your body within a finely-tuned temperature threshold. Vasodilation, where blood vessels found just below your skin's surface become wider, also helps a lot. The dilation allows for increased blood flow coupled with a higher rate of heat dissipation in warm weather.
Conversely, your skin works to prevent excessive loss of warmth in cold weather by triggering vasoconstriction. In this case, the blood vessels become narrower to reduce the amount of body heat lost and aid in heat retention. The pores in your skin will also tighten, become smaller and helps your body's thermoregulatory efforts by attempting to minimize the overall surface area exposed to the colder environment.
9. Your Skin, Being the largest Organ by Size, Needs the Best Vitamins for Blood Capillaries
Did you that your skin accounts for about 15% of your total body weight? Yes, that's right! Contrary to what most people tend to think, your skin is more than the thin covering that depicts your ancestry, race or ethnic background. Far from it, your skin is essentially a sprawling web of interconnected blood vessels and capillaries found nestled in its hypodermis layer. Experts estimate that in an average adult, these blood vessels can measure up to 11 miles when they are connected from end to end spreading over 21 square metres of skin tissue.
In a way, it goes without saying that you need the right set of vitamins for blood capillaries to keep this extensive matrix of blood vessels in the best possible shape. One of the top priority vitamins for broken capillaries is the hard-to-extract vitamin K. The nutrient is responsible for overseeing normal blood clotting and controlling blood flow in the unfortunate event of a traumatic injury. Besides, it is widely believed that the vitamin also aids in the strengthening of the walls of millions of capillaries found within your skin thereby effectively stopping them from breaking or bulging.
Vitamin K, being a relatively hard nutrient to extract from dietary sources, is best accessed through external supplementation. Here's where Wellabs Vitamin K2 + D3 drops come in handy given their rapid absorbability and eventual assimilation.
Another nutrient in the league of best vitamins for broken capillaries is ascorbic acid. It plays a role in the timely production of elastin and collagen, both of which contribute immensely to the development and maintenance of elastic blood vessels. The same applies to the Vitamin B complex family that has been shown to be critical in averting accidental clotting particularly in people with a higher genetic propensity of experiencing clotting problems.
Speaking of clotting, vitamin E is also known to reduce the 'stickiness' of platelets which when not controlled leads to cramping and clotting of your skin's vessel walls. Thus, in one way or another, it is essential in promoting normal blood flow especially in people who lead largely sedentary lives.
In Closing - The Takeaway
As you can see, your skin does more than define your physical traits and external appearance. It's literally the last line of defense between some of the most critical organs in the body and an unforgiving external environment laden with extremities like UV rays, pollutants and disease-causing organisms. As such, the health and well-being of this protective layer is key to keeping the rest of your body in excellent shape. Aspire today to keep your skin moisturized, cleansed and well shielded with ample sunscreen; you only get one skin in your lifetime.