We all have different standards and preferences when it comes to beauty, but one thing that we all want is beautiful healthy skin. I have never heard somebody ask for tips on how to get acne, wrinkles or age spots. And if you’ve asked for that kind of advice – that’s very weird.
The skin is more than just about appearance, more than just an accessory – it is a vital part of your body. It cannot be replaced by anything else. And it might sound like a cliché, but it truly does represent on the outside how good you take care of your body AND your mind on the inside. Whatever the condition of your skin is right now – you should appreciate this amazing part of your body, because it does so much for you without you even realizing it. Here are 8 little things that maybe we’ve all heard, but seem to forget about the skin.
1. THE SKIN IS THE LARGEST ORGAN OF THE BODY
Most of you would have heard this – the skin is the largest organ of the body. Ok, well this might not be that surprising to you as the skin is pretty big, right?
What was more surprizing to me is that it is actually an organ. It’s not just some surface that is just there to protect us from harm. It is a real organ with a very active everyday life – like the heart, like the liver or like the brain.
And as an organ it has a long list of to do’s aside of just looking pretty. Among many others it’s responsible for secretion and excretion of substances through sweat glands, maintenance of body temperature, formation of hormones and vitamins and protection of the other body organs from injury, pathogens, radiation or chemicals.
2. WE’RE HAIRY ALMOST EVERYWHERE
Not only do we want smooth skin, these days we also want hairless skin. What happened with the 80ies? Sorry to disappoint you, but whoever you are, you’re pretty hairy.
And this is very very very normal – because we have three different types of skin, and the hairy type covers most of your body. These are the three main kinds of skin:
- Hairy skin. Yes, we’re all hairy. Hairy skin doesn’t necessarily mean that you have thick black hair and look like a werewolf. It just means that this type of skin contains hair follicles in it – and the hairs might be tiny, almost invisible and very soft. And even if you look like a werewolf – remember, everyone else is hairy too.
- Glabrous skin – this is the type of skin most people pay a lot of money for to get all over the body (aside of hair shaft and eyebrows) – the hairless skin. Turns out this is the skin we have covering only the palms of our hands and our soles – pretty much like the soft paws of animals.
- Mucocutaneous skin – this is the skin that is next to the entries to the inner side of the body – I think you can figure out where you can find this type of skin on your own.
3. THE SKIN IS THE ONLY ORGAN ABLE TO PRODUCE AN ESSENTIAL VITAMIN
We always give all the other organs a tribute when it comes to producing something vital for life, but the skin is the only organ in the body that can actually make a vitamin that is essential for life and that can be used in the body.
And this vitamin is…drumroll…vitamin D. You knew this didn’t you? Don’t be so full of yourself, this is a well-known fact. Alright, be proud of yourself – not everyone knows that.
The skin does need a little help from the sun for vitamin D production, but still – it’s more than the other organs can do. And as I already said in the previous post – vitamin D deficiency is very prevalent these days – so this is another major reason to take good care of your skin – give it the opportunity to generate this amazing vitamin for you and to boost your immunity.
4. SKIN MAKES 14-16% OF YOUR BODY WEIGHT
The skin makes up to 16% of your body weight (usually), which means that if you’re a woman of 55kg (around 120 pounds) then about 9 kg (19 pounds) of you is skin. I like this. It’s a little relief, right? It has the potential of “I have heavy bones” when others ask you about your weight. Now you can say “I have heavy bones AND skin”. What an impact that would make, huh?
Because of the constant exchange with the outer world the skin is constantly under attack and needs to be regenerated constantly to make sure we are protected in the best possible way from the evil in this world. That’s why what you supply to it daily matters! Whether you feed it healthy foods, positive emotions or improve circulation by exercising matters even in the short-term. So make the right choices.
6. SKIN IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Not only is the skin the largest organ of the body but it also represents a huge surface directly exposed to the outer world. Protecting us from outside pathogens is one of the many daily to do’s of the skin. It is our first defense and as such it’s an essential part of the immune system.
Therefore aside of the “normal” skin cells called keratinocytes the skin also contains its very own immune cells – so that it can react in case of “DANGER DANGER” fast. These immune cells, called Langerhans cells, recognize when somebody evil comes across the skin and then they call up other immune cells from the circulation to kill the bad guy.
Not only that but keratinocytes – the skin cells – can themselves make different anti-microbiotic substances to kill dangerous microorganisms. As you can see the skin is very well equipped and therefore we’re not sick all the time.
7. THE SKIN CONTAINS DEAD CELLS
Sounds quite disgusting, but if it wasn’t for these dead cells wrapped in some fat, the skin wouldn’t be what it is – impermeable to most things. These dead skin cells together with the fats surrounding them make the outermost part of the skin and build a very strong barrier that protects the body from dehydration (among other things).
In many skin conditions it is exactly this barrier that might be problematic. If the barrier is weak, then the skin becomes dehydrated and more permeable to substances that are not really that great for us. You get acne, atopic dermatitis, wrinkly skin and many other stuff.
You might have heard that the dust in your room is mostly dead skin cells? Well this fact may make you throw up in your mouth, but it’s true. I’ve read somewhere we shed so much skin in one year, that you can make a small cat out of it. Ding ding ding! Billion euro idea! Making stuff out of my dead skin cells and selling them on eBay.
8. THE SKIN IS COVERED WITH GERMS
Dead cells + germs all over them, isn’t that every psychopath’s dream? How gross can this post get? Well I do what I can. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we humans are mainly made out of germs.
We know that the gut is buzzing with different bacteria that use us for their own purposes. These bacteria pay rent for the space and the spa treatment they get in the gut by providing us with certain health benefits. Yes, humans+gut bacteria = friends with benefits.
The skin is not far behind. It’s covered with up to million bacterial cells per cm2. That’s a lot of bacteria in a tiny space. These bacteria are not the same as those in the gut, after all the environment in the skin is not the same as in the gut. The skin bacteria improve the immunity of the skin and the barrier function and protect the skin from microorganisms that can be harmful to us. In return they get to use all the nutrients, warmth and space the skin has to offer for free. Although, how much space do you actually use if you live with million other bacteria in one cm2?
IT’S YOUR CHOICE
Now I gave you all this random information and you’re thinking how you can possibly use it. Well it’s up to you. Here’s a little quiz:
- Are you going to epilate all the hairs in your body just to prove me wrong and show me that you have glabrous skin everywhere?
- Are you actually going to make that cat out of dead skin cells and then perform CPR in the hope the cells and the cat would come alive and you’ll feel like you’ve performed a miracle?
- Are you going to accept this information and decide – the skin really matters and I need to boost my immunity with healthy food, exercise and positive attitude, so my skin can do all of its daily jobs properly and glow in the dark?
That’s some multiple choice question.
Graphics made with the emojis from EmojiOne.