Skin is our body’s largest organ and plays an important role, yet it is often taken for granted, abused and neglected. It has tactile sensations, being sensitive to touch, pressure, vibration and tickling, and thermal sensation, responding to heat and coolness.
Skin has many functions
Skin serves as a water repellent and protects us from the environment. We sometimes forget that our skin is the protective shield between us and the outside world. It is our body’s first line of defence against the elements, including the sun and wind.
Skin also excretes salt and water, absorbs substances (such as nutrients) and produces Vitamin D from sunlight. The epidermis, the top-most layer of the skin, itself contains many layers. The surface layer is made up of dead skin cells (keratinocytes - cells that make the protein keratin). Between these cells are lipids that create a water-repellent barrier. These form the protective crust of the skin.
Oil glands are attached to the skin's hair follicles and secrete sebum, which lubricates and waterproofs the skin and hair. A natural moisturiser, sebum also prevents excessive evaporation of water from the skin. If too little sebum is produced, this can lead to excessive dryness and wrinkling, while conversely, an over-production of sebum can lead to acne.
Our skin regulates temperature by producing sweat to cool us down, while blood vessels also open up to diffuse heat when we are overheated.
So, with all these important functions, it is a shame many of us tend to let skin be until some problem draws our attention: dryness, redness, irritation, blemishes, pigmentation and the like. Or, we start to notice some lines and wrinkles – yes, the dreaded ‘visible signs of ageing’.
Hydration is the key
The reasons for dry skin can be many. Harsh soaps and washes can strip our skin of its natural oils. Hot showers can also dry out our skin, as can cooler temperatures and windy weather.
For skin to be able to function at its optimum level, it needs to be adequately hydrated. Dehydrated skin is a sign that its protective barrier has been compromised. If left untreated, dry skin can worsen into more serious conditions such as chronic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
Whether it is our face, our arms, our legs or our torso, a good, quality moisturiser becomes invaluable. Moisturisers should not interrupt with the normal processes of the skin, but rather complement them. For this reason, organic moisturisers are a better option for our face and organic body lotions are ideal for our body. Because they are formulated with natural ingredients, they can act in harmony with the dynamic nature of our skin, rather than drenching it in harsh and potentially harmful chemicals.