By Jana Taylor
Your skin may be one of the most noticeable things about you, but it is the most underappreciated organ we have. It’s exposed to the harsh world every day but quietly protects you in ways you may not realize.
Your skin acts as the front-line barrier between your insides and the environment, offering you protection from many environmental contaminants bacteria, viruses and other germs. Skin has an ‘acid mantle’ which is a very fine, slightly acidic film that sits on top of your skin. This acid mantle is crucial in preventing bad things from penetrating your skin. And, in sunny weather the skin’s ability to tan (due to melanin production) is what keeps most of the UV radiation the sun produces from penetrating your skin. To help your skin keep doing these jobs at maximum efficiency, be sure to use only gentle soaps when you must use soap, and when applying any products to the skin always look at the label to make sure they are paraben, dye and fragrance-free –like Peaceful Mountain Products! You should also consider keeping skin moisturized daily and always wear a sunscreen.
Your skin is also a water barrier. It seems odd because we want our skin to be “soft and moisturized” but in reality if our skin was not somewhat waterproof all the water in our skin would evaporate and the skin would dry out and die. The outermost skin layer is called the stratum corneum and is made partly of keratin. Keratin is a special substance that absorbs oils but repels water to a certain extent, which helps to keep the underlying tissues hydrated. Because soaps tend to minimize the waterproofing effects of keratin it is vital when we get out of the bath or shower to apply body oil to seal in the moisture that lies beneath the stratum corneum.
Skin can be a barrier as I’ve discussed, but skin also has the ability to absorb things like a sponge. It’s a semi-permeable membrane, allowing it to keep out some bad things but also getting the benefits of topical moisturizers and topically applied medicines as well. This is why it’s so important to read labels on your personal care products and don’t put anything on your skin that contains potentially harmful ingredients.
Skin also regulates temperature. When we are hot, our blood flow increases which allows more heat to escape and sweating helps cool down the skin’s surface. This is why in warmer weather it’s so important to drink a lot of fluids to keep this cycle going and not get dehydrated. In colder weather, blood vessels constrict and blood flow reduces which conserves heat in the body.
Skin can synthesize chemicals. There are chemical reactions going on all the time on your skin as cells regenerate and damage gets repaired, skin is even responsible for turning sunlight into Vitamin D. To help your skin do these important jobs choose products that help stimulate cell renewal like anti-inflammatory creams and eat foods that are rich in anti-oxidants.
Lastly, and probably the most useful feature, skin can transfer information. Think about all the nerve endings on the surface of the skin that can respond to any number of outside stimuli and pass the information on to the central nervous system. You can feel hundreds of different sensations, and can tell at an instant what is going on, even without the benefit of your other senses. Who knew your skin was so smart? You can also harness skin’s sensory ability to help boost immunity and reduce stress by tapping into the power of massage. Massage has been known to increase positive hormones in the bodies that stimulate all sorts of benefits.
Our skin is amazing. Care for your skin well and you will reap the many benefits that it offers. Check out our line of skin products to help your skin stay at its peak.
Jana Taylor is a staff writer for Peaceful Mountain.