First impressions are an important part of modern life and our skin plays a major part in our overall look and appearance. This has lead to many differing opinions on how best to maintain the condition of your skin with new treatments and marketing buzzwords being added into the mix on a seemingly weekly basis.
While face creams are more expensive than body lotion and hand creams, few people actually know why there is a need to treat these areas of the body in a different way. A quick glance across a supermarket shelf will reveal that there are five main facial skin types from the choice of products that are on offer but what this doesn’t explain is why there’s a need for different creams and lotions needed for your hands, face and the rest of your body.
Through understanding how your skin is formed and the factors which affect it most, we can begin to understand how best to keep it looking healthy and in good condition.
It is commonly said that beauty is only skin deep, but just how deep is your skin? There is essentially three main layers to your skin, which are:
· Epidermis – The outer layer of the skin which provides both protection and a breathable layer around the body
· Dermis – A layer of tissue containing nerve endings, glands, hair follicles and blood vessels
· Hypodermis – Often referred to as the subcutis, this is actually a mixture of connective tissue which attaches the skin to your body and fat used to insulate you rather than a regular part of your skin
We have a thinner layer of hypodermis on our face which coupled with the fact that old age also causes your skin to reduce in thickness, means there’s less support for your skin on your face, making wrinkles more pronounced and noticeable.
The Epidermis is the part which we actively consider as our skin and this layer on your face and neck is approximately 0.12mm thick as opposed to the average thickness of 0.6mm. Therefore, skin is around five times thinner here than in other areas of the human body and it is this protective barrier which needs to be protected itself as we go through life.
Another main difference is the amount of, and type of glands found in the skin. The main type of glands produce either sweat or sebum, the latter being a fatty liquid which is used to naturally moisturise the outer skin and hair. These glands are located in the dermis layer of skin and while there are different types around your body, all of them are used to lubricate and protect your skin in some way, such as the ones in your ear which create cerumen, or ear wax.
Because the epidermis layer contains no blood vessels, it is maintained by the oils and waxes which are emitted from the dermis below it. Due to the epidermis layer on your hands and feet being thicker, this means that they will also be drier and so require an extra amount of moisturising properties from the cream you use in these areas.
Meanwhile, the face contains more oil producing glands than any other area of your body. These oils additionally contain an antimicrobial solution which can be thought of as a naturally occurring disinfectant to control the amount of bacteria on your skin. This not only requires your face cream to be much more carefully balanced with regards to how it cleans, it also needs to work in a way that will not block the skin pores and cause a build up of oil behind the surface.
The physical structure of your skin is also different between your face and the rest of your body. With more pores that are much smaller in nature, it is easier for them to be blocked, especially considering the increased amount of oil which your face produces.
Another side effect of having smaller pores is an increased amount of hair in this area. The vast majority of hair on your face is much smaller and finer relative to the hair covering the rest of your body and this too creates more oil which is used to keep the hair nourished.
The biggest factor that having smaller, more frequent allocations of pores in your skin is the capacity for it to operate as a barrier. This effectively produces a tighter net for all of the water and chemicals to pass through, with the overall effect to increase the comparative level of sensitivity in your skin on your face.
The skin is an organ which is constantly regenerating itself and this means that as new cells are produced, old skin will flake and fall away. With the skin on your face being more exposed to the open elements of the surrounding environment, the rate at which your skin cells replace themselves becomes increased.
This is especially true in extreme weather conditions, where cold air, humid conditions and strong sun can all play a role in increasing the level of damage inflicted upon your skin during the course of a regular day.
For this reason, exfoliating products are essential to remove any old skin but this alone is not sufficient for the softer skin on your face. If used too often on your face without other creams and treatments, this will eventually lead to irritation and the formation of a rash or similar. Likewise, washing your face too often without applying moisturiser will cause the skin to become too dry, whereas using too much moisturiser and other oily products will potentially clog the skin and produce an unwanted sheen.
With these differing characteristics, the skin on your face has a more delicate balance to that of your arms, while your hands and feet need the skin to be much thicker and more hard-wearing to cope with the constant abrasive and rough tasks that are required of them.
It is these fundamental needs and the more balanced care your face requires which causes the discrepancy in skin products and it is with these factors in mind that you should plan your own daily skincare routine.