Skin, why get a facial?
This is going to be a series of articles on skin structure and how facials are beneficial for overall health. First, the structure and function of the skin, second, best practices with skin throughout your life, and finally skincare products and chemical load.
Skin has three sections, the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis or subcutaneous layer.
The skin is the first defense against disease, environment and regulates temperature.
Quick facts: The skin is our largest organ and is about 15% of body weight.
The skin renews itself every 28 days (also a moon cycle).
Dead skin cells comprise about a billion tons of dust in the earth’s atmosphere (ew).
The thinnest areas of skin are the eyelids and the scrotum which are only a few cells thick (0.2mm) and the thickest areas are the palms of the hands and soles of the feet (1.4mm).
The epidermis is the outer section of skin. This section of the skin has no vascularization (blood flow) and the cells it is made up of are called stratified squamous epithelium…that is a mouthful isn’t it? The epidermis is further broken down to five layers: Stratum corneum, Stratum lucidum, Stratum granulosum, Stratum spinosum, Stratum basale. Cells are pushed up from the stratum basale where they are close to blood cells and oxygen. As they rise they are further away from their nourishment and oxygen so they die, flatten and become keratinized. When the cells reach the top they become the stratum corneum. This layer is the one that makes us waterproof and is the layer that can and should be exfoliated. When these cells are not exfoliated, they can build up and cause the skin to look dull and “ashy”.
The epidermis is SEMI permeable, that means that not everything you put on your skin goes into your body or blood stream. In order to penetrate into the body a substance’s molecule must be very tiny (500 Daltons or less) but sometimes larger fat-soluble molecules can diffuse deeper into the skin by a different mechanism.
Molecules larger than 500 Daltons generally sit on top of the skin and of benefit as barriers and creams that hold moisture in the skin, those are called occlusive creams, these include serums and moisturizers. They hold moisture in rather than effect molecular structures deep in the skin. Did you know that we lose 500ml of moisture/water through our skin daily? That does not include sweating on a hot day or at the gym!
How big is a Dalton by the way? In case you were wondering…I was…its about the mass of a hydrogen atom. According to sizes.com…its 1.6579x10^-24 grams….umm….that’s 24 zeros….that’s a whole lot of tiny.
Here are a few ingredients that are under the 500 Daltons: Glycerin (92.09), Ethanol (46), Water (18), Retinol (286), Lactic acid (90). these are small enough molecules to go into the dermis and effect deep healing of the skin.
The epidermis is further protected by an acid mantle that must be maintained for optimal health. The acid mantle is the very, very first defense against bacteria, viruses and contaminates. It is a slightly acid layer on the very outside of the skin. The acidity makes it an unhealthy place for pathogens. If skincare products or soaps are too alkaline, they can strip the body of the acid mantle leaving the skin vulnerable. The pH of the acid mantle is 4.5-6.2 as you can see a bit acid, just enough to keep out nasties.
Below the epidermis is the dermis. The dermis does have blood flow and lies directly below the stratum basale. This is also where connective tissue and some muscles live. There are also some glands, hair follicles and nerve receptors that live in this section of skin.
The sebaceous glands live here. What is a sebaceous gland? Glad you asked. Sebaceous glands are the glands that produce oil or sebum. This oil is meant to lubricate the skin and hair. They are connected to the dreaded pimple. Let’s talk about pimples, shall we? Must let's.
Here is how a pimple is formed: there are pores that have a single hair follicle with a sebaceous gland attached, that sebaceous gland decides for whatever reason to produce some extra oil.
That extra oil clumps up preventing free oil and oxygen flow. Dead cells build up in the pore and mix with the oil forming a blackhead (when sebum is exposed to the air it turns black).
Without oxygen flow the bacteria and oil back up and create an infection in the pore. The skin becomes red from the infection which brings blood and white blood cells (macrophages) to destroy and chew up the infection the blood flow helps sweep the infection away.
These white blood cells die and accumulate in the pore which is pus. In time the infection heals and the dead tissue dissolves and eventually is replaced with healthy skin cells.
When facial steams are used any oil blockage is loosened and pimples can be stopped before they get started.
The dermis is also where collagen is stored so skin elasticity originates in this skin section. When skin is stretched beyond its limits by pregnancy or weight gain it tears and causes white scar tissue called “stretch marks”. Oils can keep skin lubricated and less likely to tear.
The dermis is also where the sweat glands (apocrine and eccrine glands) live.
The hypodermis lies between the dermis and underlying tissue and organs. This is where some connective tissues and adipose tissue (fat) lives. The hypodermis or subcutaneous layer helps to insulate the body and keep the temperature from fluctuating external environment and anchors the skin to the underlying structures.
So, how does a facial keep all this healthy? First, facials are deeply relaxing. Stress causes wrinkles. We get stressed, we tense up and draw in our eyebrows, squint and purse our lips. All of these actions restrict blood flow. Restricted blood flow means reduced oxygen, which means oxidation…no Bueno. So facial massage helps to relax the skin and encourages blood flow.
Deep Cleansing. The skin specialist understands your skin type and has the tools to take care of it properly. The steam, the aromatherapy opens pores that allows the product to work optimally.
Massage: Regular facial massage boosts cell regeneration and promotes collagen development. Facial massage drains lymph which makes the face look puffy. Activating pressure points can firm skin and encourage optimal relaxation by activation/calming facial nerve bundles. Facial massage promotes blood circulation which brings oxygen and immune cells to sweep away toxins from the face.
Exfoliation: Dead skin cells are removed from the skin. When dead skin cells accumulate on the skin it causes dry, scaly patches if not removed. Professional facials always include an exfoliation step, either using chemistry or by physical means via a scrub or brush. After exfoliation your skin is clear for your skincare regimen to work even better at home.
Moisturization/Serums: Your skin is now ready to receive moisturizer and/or serum for that dewy healthy glow and protection from the elements and hold in moisture.
These are just some of the ways that facials make your life better and easier. One hour of pure blissful you time AND you are taking care of your health.
Call for an appointment today! Brunettes 319-393-1817 ask for Donna
Herlihy, Barbara (2007). The Human Body in Health and Illness (Third Ed.). Saunders Elsevier, St Louis MO.
copyright Donna Bass, 2018
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