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The Nature of Skin

Updated on March 12, 2011

Your skin is amazing. Although it can be as soft and smooth as finely woven silk or cashmere, skin is surprisingly tough and resilient.

Seeing skin as simply a yardstick for measuring beauty undermines the many important roles it plays. Skin is not just a cosmetic covering. It is an immaculately designed, living, breathing, hard-working tissue that acts as a highly percep­tive go-between between us and the outer world.

How Skin Works For You

Protective clothing

Your skin is a waterproof coat. Splash water on to your skin and the droplets will sit or slither off the surface. A healthy and well-balanced skin also retains the precious moisture that makes it soft and fresh-looking. But be aware that many substances, especially the oil-soluble variety, penetrate the skin's outer defences. Increasingly, drug companies are using skin as a medium for delivering hor­mones and other kinds of medication into the body. As skin may soak up harmful as well as help­ful chemicals, it is essential to use the purest, most wholesome skincare preparations.

Keeping cool

The body works best when its internal tempera­ture is kept at a constant 37°C (98.4°F). If the outside temperature soars, skin works overtime to keep us cool. The sweat glands produce more perspiration and as these beads of liquid evaporate into the air, the excess heat is lost and our temperature comes back down.

The subtle sense

Within the skin lies a network of complex sensory nerve endings which provide us with information about the outside world. Skin senses pleasure and pain through these nerves and relays them to the brain. Touch enriches our per­ception and adds another dimension to what we can see and smell. The desire to feel softness -the brush of cashmere against our skin, touching a rose petal - may spring from babyhood It rekindles the sense of comfort and security that came from nestling against our mother's skin. Psychologists refer to the need to touch another's skin as 'skin hunger'. Science now supports the long-held notion that touch therapy or massage works wonders for the mind, body and soul.

Pathway to purity

Along with the lungs, liver, kidneys, lymphatic system and large intestine, the skin acts as an organ of elimination and works to rid the body of any unwanted substances. As well as salts, other substances may be carried away in perspi­ration.

If any of the other eliminatory channels are not working as efficiently as they could, the skin may find itself overwhelmed with more than its fair share of wastes. Spots are often a tell-tale sign that skin is trying to clear away its excess toxic load. Luckily there are many ways to help the skin to keep you clean.


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