What are some easy steps I can take for better skin?
By Dr. Erik Hoy
If someone told you that you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, how well would you care for it? Think of the events you might attend. Imagine the looks you'd get if your outfit were ragged, scuffed or stained. Now consider this: How well do you care for your skin on a day-to-day basis? Do you do all you can to keep it soft and supple? To prevent or minimize wrinkles? How do you protect your skin from stresses, and how can you help heal and nourish it?
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and one of the most dynamic. It accounts for 15 percent of your body weight and covers 12 to 20 square feet (1.1 to 1.9 square meters). A full 70 percent of the skin is water. Another 25 percent is protein, and the final 5 percent consists of fats. The skin has roles as a sensory organ and a structural support for tissues, and it can even convey emotion when we blush with shame, sweat with anxiety or turn pale with fear.
All these traits come from the skin's three important layers. The surface layer is the waterproof epidermis. This is the layer we scrub to exfoliate, the layer that sometimes looks dry and chapped if mistreated. The middle layer is the dermis, and this is where the action is. The dermis is what gives the skin its suppleness. It is also the portion of the skin that is responsible for healing wounds, and it's where sun damage and scarring occur. The third and deepest layer is the subcutaneous layer, where sweat glands, hair follicles and blood vessels can be found. It's an area of support structures, where the skin is nourished from below.
We start out with good skin, but years of neglect -- or worse, abuse -- can take their toll. While some factors, like sunlight and gravity, are impossible to completely avoid, we can all take some simple steps to look younger and feel better about our skin. Next, we'll show you how.
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