The human skin is the outer covering of the body. It forms a continuous layer over the entire body, making it the largest organ. It bears some hairs which might be sparse in some people and relatively dense in others. The human skin consists of two main layers: the dermis (the thick layer of skin underneath the epidermis) and the epidermis (the outer thin layer of the skin).
- The epidermis consists of three layers namely; the innermost Malpighian layer (this layer consists of actively dividing cuboidal cells, melanin pigment which gives the skin its color), the middle granular layer (this layer consists of living cells that are constantly being pushed up from the malpighian layer.) and the outermost part the cornified layer (this consists of scale-like dead cells impregnated with keratin which is a strong, colorless natural protein which forms hair, nails, etc.)?
- The dermis on the other hand contains blood capillaries (these capillaries bring food and oxygen to the dermal and epidermal cells and also removes wastes), hair follicles (these are deep pits formed by the infolding of the Malpighian layer. The hair erector muscle is also attached to these follicles), sweat glands (these occur deep in the dermis as coiled tubes which continue as sweat ducts that open at the surface of the skin as sweat pores), sebaceous gland (these glands secrete sebum which is an oily substance that helps keep the hair and the epidermis waterproof and supple), sensory nerve endings (as a sense organ, these nerve endings help our skin responds to external stimuli and sends them to the appropriate part of the body for interpretation and action. Some of such sensory receptors include the pain receptors, pressure receptors, touch receptors and the thermoreceptors) and fat cells (these cells help keep the body warmth and also store some energy for the body).
Having discussed extensively some parts of the skin, we will then go ahead and discuss the functions of the skin.
What Are The Functions Of The Skin?
The skin like other parts of the body is not just there for the fun of it. They perform some important functions for the human body and we will be discussing them right away. Below are some of the functions of the skin;
- SENSITIVITY: as outlined earlier, the dermis layer of the skin contains nerve endings which act as sensory receptors. These receptors can accept and respond to pain, touch, pressure, heat, and cold. This helps us to be aware of our environment so as to help in our safety. When we are in a very hot place (or about to enter fire), we quickly go away from the spot because the hot receptors of the skin have transmitted the stimuli to the part of the brain that immediately interprets it and sends a message to our legs for it to move away from there.
- PROTECTION: this could be regarded as the primary and the most fundamental function of the skin. The skin protects the body from external disturbances such as mechanical impacts and pressure, variations in temperature, micro-organism invasions (this is provided by the dead epidermal cells which form a tough continuous barrier) and from chemicals, from ultraviolet rays of the sun which could damage living cells of the body, etc. The waterproof nature of the epidermis reduces water loss by evaporation from the body cells which thus help maintain a constant body fluid volume.
- REGULATE THE BODY TEMPERATURE: the function of regulating the body’s temperature is not the function of only one part of the body. The skin also helps in doing so. The normal body temperature of the human body as we all know is 37⁰c. If our body is below or above this temperature, our skin responds depending on if it is either above or below the temperature. If its above 37⁰c, the capillaries near the skin surface dilates and those in inner parts of the skin constricts and this causes a large volume of blood to flow near the surface of the skin so that they lose heat to the environment. Also, we tend to sweat when the body temperature is high; these sweats are evaporated and our body loses heat due to the latent heat of vaporization. This function is very crucial for our body to function properly because our body enzymes can only work effectively within certain ranges of temperature.
- When we are cold on the other hand, our body is sensitized by the information from the receptors in the skin. The capillaries nearer to the skin surface constrict while that deeper in the skin dilates thereby allowing more blood flow through the inner part and thus, conserve heat to keep the body warm. Also, it is obvious that we do not sweat when we feel cold because the sweat glands become inactive so as to conserve heat for our body. We are also moved by instinct to put on sweaters and turn on our heaters to help us feel warm.
- WASTE EXCRETION: through the sweat, the skin help remove some substances from the blood. Some of the substances removed include excess water, salt; excess dissolved solid wastes like ammonia, uric acid, and urea, etc.
- PRODUCTION OF VITAMIN: precisely the production of vitamin D, our skin when exposed to the sun, produces this vitamin due to the action of the sun’s ultraviolet- B rays to a chemical component (provitamin D3) of the skin. This type of vitamin D produced is the vitamin D3, which is then transported to the liver and kidney where the real type is then produced.
Why Do We Have To Know Our Skin Type?
So you have been asking this question for so long. The basic answer is that knowing your skin type will help you know what and what your skin accepts, reacts to, what creams and skin care products work for it. Simply put, the different skin types require different types of care. Having discussed this, we will go ahead and discuss the different skin types, their characteristics and how they can be cared for.
Four Main Skin Types
The different types of skin are classified according to the amount of water, level of sensitivity to the skin and oil in the skin. The different skin types include;
Type #1 – Oily Skin Type
As the name implies, the sebaceous gland secretes excess sebum and leaves blots of facial oil on the nose cheeks and forehead. Oily skin type is prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (a condition in which dark spots are seen on the face when breakouts have healed), acne (commonly known as pimple and is as a result of the clogging of the hair follicles by dead skin cells and or oil from the sebum) and looks younger than the other skin types. This type of skin can be as a result of the genetic makeup of the person, diet, hormone level, etc. this condition can simply be improved by regular and careful cleaning of the skin, consumption of carbohydrate, avoiding rich creams, etc.
Type #2 – Normal Or Combinated Skin Type
As the name suggests, this skin type shows a combination of some skin types. It has a nice mix of oily and dry skin characteristics. Some parts could be oily while some dry, some parts sensitive while others are not so sensitive, etc. this skin type could result in having blackheads, shiny skins, etc. and could be as a result of hormonal makeup, heredity and or diets, etc.
Type #3 – Dry Skin Type
In this type of skin, there is increased visibility of lines on the skin, red patches, less elasticity, rough complexion, etc. this is as a result of low level of sebum production by the sebaceous gland, environmental factors, lifestyle and diet, climate, etc. dehydration can also
Type #4 – Sensitive Skin Type
This skin type has reduced tolerance to any external application i.e. is hyper-sensitive. This skin type appears red, causes discomfort, etc. on the application of external stimuli. This type of skin is probably the worst skin type as it requires a lot of care for the person who has it to feel comfortable.
Having discussed the types of skin, we will then go ahead and discuss how to determine your skin type. The importance of knowing your skin type has been outlined above.
Methods To Determine Your Skin Type
There are a number of ways of determining skin type and so, you’ll have a variety of ways to choose from. Some of them include;
Method #1 – Go And See Your Dermatologist
This is probably the best way to determine your skin type. Skin doctors otherwise known as dermatologists are trained experts that can carry out some tests on you and tell you exactly the type of skin you’ve got. This might sound bizarre for some people as they might see it as a waste of time and money but it is actually not. It is advised that we patronize medical experts for the best health assurance and to avoid self-medication as it has led so many people to their early graves.
Method #2 – Make Use Of The Touch Test
This test involves the use of our hands to feel some parts of our face, and by so doing; we can predict the type of skin we’ve got. If you get some moisture deposits (from the T-zone of your face) on your hands, it is definitely an oily skin you’ve got, but if it feels dry, then that’s a dry skin.
Method #3 – By Mere Examination
The texture of our face can actually be seen clearly before a mirror from where the skin type can be deduced. To get the correct result from this method, you need to wash your face in the morning, look at it in the mirror and note how it is; and then go about your day’s activity without applying any skin care product or washing your face any other time. When you return in the evening or late at night, go and stand before a mirror and examine your skin.
If the skin is as it was in the morning, then you probably have a normal skin, but if it looks oilier than it was in the morning, then you have an oily skin. If it looks dry and warty, then your skin is probably a dry skin type, etc.
Method #4 – Try Tissue Paper Test
This test involves washing the face with clean water and make sure you have washed off makeups and any other skin care product you might have applied on the face. After that, leave your face to dry on its own for about an hour without touching it or applying anything to it. During this drying period, it returns to its natural state normally.
After one hour, get a toilet roll and dab it on your face, most especially the T-zone (areas from your nose, to your forehead). The result gotten as can be seen in the tissue will then determine your skin type. You’ve got a normal skin if the tissue shows neither oiliness nor dryness on it, oily if there are patches of oil on the tissue, dry if you feel flakes on the tissue.
Method #5 – Try The Blotting Paper Method
This method is quite good as the others and involves the use of a blotting paper. The process involves washing your face in the night and sleeping without applying any skin care product to the face.
When you wake up the next morning, get a blotting paper and dab it on your face, especially on the T-zone also. If you feel some patches of oil on some parts and dryness on other parts, you likely have a normal skin, if the paper is saturated with oil, then you definitely have an oily skin, but if you don’t see oil on the paper, then you probably have a dry skin.
As discussed above, having any of the skin types has its advantages and disadvantages. Also, it is good to note that the various skin types can be affected by age i.e. the skin type can change from one type to another depending on the age of the person.