Human skin is an amazing organ — protective, waterproof, and exceedingly useful, it is constantly changing and regenerating itself. The individual cells that form it have a finite life span. When they die, they are replaced with new cells. There are trillions of them in the body with scientists arguing about exactly how many there are, but they do agree that we lose nearly 30,000 every hour; which begs the question where do these dead cells go? But before we get to answer that question, let us explain a little more about skin.
Human skin has several ectodermal tissue layers. The top layer that you can see and touch is called the epidermis. It’s composed of lots and lots of individual cells made of keratinocyte, a substance that also forms keratin in your hair and nails. This outermost surface consists of layers of dead cells that have done their job after working as soldiers battling against the wear and tear the skin has to suffer, and thanks to its role as the body’s protective surface, this outermost layer provides our physical protection. This is an important task for the epidermis and so the dead cells fall away as the underlying layers of living skin cells in the epidermis rejuvenate and grow every two to four weeks. But accepting that we lose 30,000 every hour, this means, with a simple arithmetic calculation, that we lose almost a million skin cells daily. The wondrous thing though in all of this is that they are miraculously replaced in a skin rejuvenation process that is ongoing every second of every minute of every day.
But why is it that the body grows old if we are constantly being provided with so many new cells? Shouldn’t, this influx be like a shot of Botox? The answer to this is that when it comes to aging, it appears that the secret lies not in our cells but, more specifically, in our cellular DNA. The Swedish molecular biologist Dr Jonas Frisen studied body tissue renewal by measuring levels of our DNA and what he found is that the body’s cells replace at various times; some sooner than others, but in total every one of them in the body is replaced in a 7 to 10-year period – and then the complete process starts all over again. But when it comes to aging, it appears that the secret lies not in our cells but, more specifically, in the cellular DNA. Our bodies are born to die, and the decay starts to kick in after we have turned 55. This is the point at which our DNA starts to degenerate. Youth as they say is in your DNA, not in your cells.
But why do scars and tattoos persist indefinitely? The answer to this is really quite simple; the cells in the superficial or upper layers of skin, known as the epidermis, are constantly replacing themselves in a process of renewal that is basically a form of self-exfoliation (shedding) of the epidermis. But the deeper layers of skin, called the dermis, do not go through this cellular turnover and so do not replace themselves per se. Consequently, foreign bodies, such as tattoo dyes, implanted in the dermis will remain.
If we can quote: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/if-the-cells-of-our-skin/
“Tattoos remain in the skin because the ink particles that produce the coloration are too large to be ingested by the white bloods cells that patrol the body and carry foreign bodies away from the skin. The new tattoo-removing lasers work because the laser energy pulverizes the ink into micro-fine dust particles that are small enough to be taken in by the white blood cells and carried away. The same applies to scar tissue that as a baby will heal quickly and disappear, but as an adult, we keep with us visibly forever – unless of course you spend your pennies on expensive surgery – but that, as they say, is another story entirely.”
But, 30,000 human cells lost every hour? Where do they go? Why indeed don’t we see piles of the stuff laying behind the door? The answer to this is that the magic fairies who work as we sleep, silently come and hoover it all up – you may wish. But, of course they don’t. The real answer is that discarded cells form the dust in our houses. Microscopic mites that seamlessly live with us do their best to eat these billions of dead cells. But they are caring little beasties and they leave some as dust for us to clean ourselves – and some for the little spiders who live in all of little nooks and crannies and who, when its quiet, come out for their lunch.
Skin breakouts and eruptions
When skin cells do not break away from the skin regularly enough, they can collect in the hair follicles, and in and around pores where they combine with the body’s natural oils (sebum). Clogged pores, result in comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) that we all hate especially when we want to look our best. Worse still is the fact that if bacteria then manage to enter the follicle, these pimples can become inflamed, causing pustules and cysts. So, by helping our skin to remove the upper layers of dead skin regularly, we reduce the risk of blocked pores and the resulting breakouts.
If your skin is acne-prone, then the last thing that you want to do is to start rubbing or using harsh products full of chemicals. If you are rough with your skin, you will remove too much natural oil during the process. The result of this is that your skin will react and produce more oil that can cause yet more breakouts as the follicles become blocked. Rather than this, we recommended to use a gentle cleanser with organic exfoliating properties that will remove the necessary dead skin and leave your skin soft and refreshed. In this, the new SkinLikes Sweet Orange Facial Cleanser that we plan to launch in a week or two is a product that you might consider suitable for such a task. But no matter what you select, cleansing morning and evening helps keep the pattern of skincare in the best of terms, much like brushing your teeth.
If your acne is worse in the morning and you can’t figure out why, then dirty a pillowcase may be to blame! The embedded dirt, dead skin, and bacteria can clog the pores. If you have bad breakouts, change your pillowcases every 2-3 days and the rest of your bedding once a week. If you allow Rover the dog or kitty to sleep with you, then you simply exacerbate the problem and especially so if the dog has mange, it will spread its mites that then burrow under your skin. (What a horrible thought?) So, it’s best to change the pillows every three days and the bed sheets every week and of course keep your pets in their own sleeping compartment away from your own.
Dead skin cells have a bearing when applying skincare or makeup. If you don’t cleanse the skin beforehand, you run the risk of rolling the remains of the dead skin into gritty little balls that gather on the skin as you gently massage it to cleanse. Some chemically-orientated makeups are thick and will absorb these dead, skin-cells such that you don’t notice. But if you use a kinder, cleaner moisturiser or skin cleanser, you may observe the build-up if that is that you haven’t been fastidious in your cleansing regime.
But more news on skin-cleansing in a later newsletter. For now, we hope that you have enjoyed reading this informative article about the miracle that is skin, which keeps all the goodness in and all the badness out – and in a way if cleaned, nourished and cared for may just help to keep us looking younger, no matter what our DNA may say on the subject.
You can find out all about us and read other helpful articles at https://www.skinlikes.co.uk. Our newsletter this week, is written by Sheila, but best wishes from all of the team at SkinLikes.