Our skin forms the interface between us and the outside world - it protects us, envelops us and acts as the first alert system when things are out of balance. It is a thing of extreme beauty and vulnerability - through it we experience touch, intimacy, warmth and connection. It is the artistic medium we use to express ourselves and the canvas that's adorned with the unique hallmarks of our lives.
Yet many of us feel at the whim of our skin - we can feel amazing when we're having a good skin day and lousy when we aren't. Our confidence and emotional wellbeing are so closely linked with our skin that outbreaks and flare-ups can leave us feeling down and frustrated, despite our best efforts to get our skin to cooperate. What we often miss, however, are the vital pieces of information our skin is trying to pass on to us.
Amazing changes can happen when we start listening to our skin rather than trying to quieten it. Interpreting the skin's signals isn't always easy but developing an understanding of what your body needs is a deeply gratifying and meaningful process. The skin is the mirror to our inner world and the barometer of our own wellbeing; it is capable of great transformation if given proper nourishment and care.
Our approach to skincare is one of less is more. We believe in using only the very best ingredients to create organic products that work together synergistically to provide your body with everything it needs for optimum skin health. Establishing an everyday ritual is one of the most loving steps you can take to support your skin - these moments of self-care bookend your day and feed both skin and spirit.
The Structure of Skin
Our skin is one of the great multitaskers of the body. It is our largest organ both in terms of weight and surface area but as the body's outermost tissue, it's often the last part of the body to receive nutrients, with prioritisation going to the internal organs and the body's core first. Good skincare at its purest is an extension of a healthy diet. Just as food nourishes us from the inside, skin nutrition supports our bodies from the outside-in.
Our skin is formed from three layers - the epidermis, dermis and the hypodermis - alongside the skin's microbiome and acid mantle. Understanding how the skin works is a great way to learn what you should be putting on it. Different products are targeted at different layers so being able to read your skin will help you pick out the best products for you and help you get the results you want.
The microbiome - though invisible to the naked eye, our skin maps an exquisitely intricate and wonderful microscopic ecological world. Just like our gut, this fine-tuned microbiome plays a key role in keeping us healthy and is a vital part of our skin's immune system. It is formed of millions of diverse and specialized microorganisms that symbiotically exist with us, creating a physical barrier that protects us from harmful pathogens. When this microbiota is disrupted, our skin's ability to prevent and protect against unwanted microorganisms and skin irritants becomes compromised and may lead to skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
To look after your skin's microbiome avoid over cleansing/ exfoliating and steer clear of strong acids and peels. Choose pH balanced, non-foaming cleansers and gentle exfoliants to support healthy skin function.
The acid mantle - this is the fine protective film that covers the surface of the skin and creates the acidic environment in which the microbiome thrives. It typically has a pH ranging from 4.5 to 6.2. This acid mantle is made up of secretions from the sebaceous and sweat glands - comprising of lactic acid, free fatty acids and amino acids - as well as pyrrolidine carboxylic acid and urocanic acid, which play an important role in the process of cornification that allows the formation of a dead cells layer to create a physical barrier for the skin.
The acid mantle plays an important role in preventing water loss and keeps your skin soft, plumped and supple. A compromised acid mantle can lead to dehydration, sensitivity, redness and inflammation. Opt for gentle pH balanced products and avoid alkaline products such as soap and strong acids as these disrupt the fine balance of your skin.
The epidermis - this is the outermost layer of skin cells that forms the semi-permeable barrier that, along with the microbiome and acid mantle, protects us against external stressors such as pollutants, pathogens and the weather. It also creates our skin tone and colour, producing melanin in the basal layer, which helps to shield us from damaging UV rays. When it comes to skin allergies, the epidermis plays an important role in the skin's immune system. Here there is a dense network of Langerhans cells, which act as sentinels, determining the appropriate adaptive response - inflammation or tolerance - when they come into contact with infection and unfamiliar substances.
The epidermis is the layer that can become dry, flakey or congested and is the main target area for ingredients that protect, hydrate, smooth and hold moisture to the surface of the skin.
The dermis - also known as the corium, this is normally the thickest part of the skin and forms the main processing hub, containing blood vessels, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, hair follicles, pressure receptors, nerve endings and lymphatic vessels. It contains connective tissue that is rich in capillaries that transport oxygen, nutrients and waste products, and is made from collagen, elastin and fibrillin, giving skin its strength, firmness and elasticity.
The dermis is the layer that we target our rejuvenating and youth-giving ingredients at, nourishing the body from the outside in and stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis to give plumped supple skin.
The hypodermis - also known as the subcutis, this is the deepest layer of the skin. Sometimes referred to as the 'fat layer', it's comprised of loose connective and adipose tissues, containing larger blood vessels and nerve fibres, glands, the roots of hair follicles and partially smooth muscle cells. This layer cushions the body and is the last layer before we reach the muscles.
Although most skincare ingredients are targeted at the epidermis and dermis, the skin is a complete system and the hypodermis will benefit from all the nutrient-rich ingredients that nourish the body. The depth of the hypodermis varies throughout the body and is particularly thin in areas such as the lips and eyelids so it's worth investing in products that help boost and protect these areas.