In order for us to properly take care of our skin and keep it healthy we need to understand its functions as an organ. Skin protects our body from pathogens, UV radiation, physical damage, regulates body’s temperature through perspiration and blood flow, informs us about the external environment though sensation, and plays a vital role in body’s immune response and vitamin D synthesis. Skin constantly renews and regenerates itself, fights off free radicals, metabolizes nutrients, excretes salts and waste through sweat and maintains lubrication by producing natural lipids.
These natural lipids are found in the spaces between the cells. They preserve moisture and provide permeable barrier keeping the skin hydrated. Along with keratinized corneocytes and natural moisturizing factors, lipids create acid mantle on the top layer of our skin that prevents trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). This barrier protects lower layers of the skin containing cells and compounds responsible for flexibility and elasticity of the skin, thus aiding in maintaining youthfulness. If the lipids are lost, which happens as we age the spaces between the cells dry up, acid mantle breaks down, water gets lost and pathogens may enter, irritating and stressing the skin. By helping the skin maintain its barrier function and by supporting water retention we can renew, rejuvenate and protect our skin. So, when we consider daily regiment, treatments and products for our skin we need to apply humectant moisturizers that address barrier properties as well.