The Skin’s Functions – Acceptable Poisons?

Ahhh skin as soft as a newborn baby’s. Don’t we wish!

Most of the time we really don’t give much thought to the purpose of our skin and its functions. Generally women, rather than men, think of skin in terms of daily skin care routines for the face based on their knowledge of the type of skin they have. One thing is for sure, as we age, the skin loses that soft, suppleness that we were born with – and we do lots of things to try to get it back!

I think we take for granted everything our skin does for us. It is actually the largest organ of the body, and is one seventh of our body weight. Some functions of the skin includes protection, excretion, secretion, regulation, sensation and absorption. I’ll briefly touch on all of these functions, but I’ll expand on absorption and secretion. Stay with me to the end of the post to discover some fascinating, accidental harm we’ve done to ourselves.


Skin Function Protection

Like a medieval suit of armor protects its occupier, the outer layer of skin protects our insides from injury. Skin is obviously elastic, and acts as a barrier from things such as cold, sun and germs.

The outer layer, or epidermis, has several functions of its own. One of the most interesting is the lymphocytes and langerhans cells grab germs and transport them to the closest lymph nodes.

Skin Function Excretion and Regulation

The skin is a waste removal system through excretion. Sweat glands secrete a fluid waste called perspiration. The primary function of sweating is temperature control regulation, and the release of pheromones.

Side note for a minute because it’s amusing. I recently read an article about studies being done about females producing a different pheromone scent when ovulating as compared to when not. Hmmm who would have thought that females are sending out a scent of fertility? Very interesting indeed!

Skin Function Sensation

The middle section of skin is called the dermis. This is the area that contains a network of nerve fibers and very small blood vessels called capillaries. The capillaries pass nutrients and oxygen into cells. It is also the dermis that houses the most sensory (feeling) cells.

Skin Function Secretion

The skin secretes sebum which is responsible for keeping the skin soft and supple. Sebum mixed with sweat creates a slightly acidic barrier on the skin is also known as the acid mantle. The pH of the acid mantle is between 4.5 and 5.5, and protects our bodies from outside invasion.

However, if the acid mantle is washed away or neutralized by soaps, it is possible to raise the pH of the skin above 6. Thus causing the acidity of the skin to lower, and not effectively stop bacteria from entering our bodies.

When the acid mantle is unbalanced you could experience too much oil, or the opposite, too much dryness.

Here are a few items you may have in your home that can help rebalance the face’s pH and restore the acid mantle.

Honey. Raw honey has a low pH, is an antiseptic and antibacterial. Use as a mask.

Lemon. Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon with 4 ounces of water and apply to the face with a cotton ball. Rinse off after about 5 minutes. Lemon kills bacteria, and the citric acid works against wrinkles.

Here is something that can damage the acid mantle and we use it daily – soap. Bar soap is generally has high alkalinity and a detergent. It strips away fats and oils. It not only affects the face; how are your hands especially in the winter?

Try to find a low pH cleaner and use lemon or honey, or both!

Skin Function Absorption

Thousands of pores on the surface of the skin can absorb vitamins, acids, water and oxygen in order to provide moisture and nourishment to our skin. The skin absorbs whatever is put on it. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked into the skin’s absorption rates of chemicals found in drinking water.

It showed that the skin absorbed an average of 64% of total contaminant dosage. It also states that skin penetration rates for solvents are remarkably high, and that the skin is a less effective barrier to than traditionally hypothesized.

So what’s this mean to you? It should be of great concern to you. Bear with me here.

We know the skin absorbs right? There’s no doubt. For example, what’s one of the most well-known patches out there? Nicotine patches! Dermal patches are also used for such things as pain relief. So the skin absorbs medication (chemicals) then it obviously absorbs chemicals from lotions, creams and other personal care products.

What in the heck are we putting on our bodies for it to absorb? Here’s one ingredient of a very popular scented lotion product from a bath and body store: petrolatum. Petroleum jelly. Does anyone know what PETROLEUM jelly ingredients are? Yeah the same thing we put in our automobiles, and we put it on our bodies. That’s just one terrible ingredient in that lotion and many others.

We have accepted that putting petroleum on our bodies is okay.

Here’s why you should be concerned: petroleum jelly may make you think your skin is hydrated but in reality it does not allow your skin to take in air or moisture. In essence, you’re drying your skin out. Read more about from this article at the HuffPost. The barrier also traps in oil and dirt, and in some cases the petroleum may be carcinogenic because not all the toxins have been removed during processing!

Do you really want to take a chance using a product like this on yourself, your kids? How about on a newborn who is perfect in every way? Do you want to start their little lives off with the use of something that might have the toxins removed?

Don’t worry, I’ve got a few suggestions for you to use with the same type of properties as petroleum jelly but much, much better for your skin and body. You can use a beauty butter such as cocoa, shea or mango.

Cocoa butter is high in fat so it makes an awesome moisturizer. Shea butter contains vitamin A – yes ladies vitamin A is good for those fine lines and wrinkles! It also moisturizes deeply. And last but certainly not least, mango butter. I consider this the best!

Mango butter is not only deeply moisturizing and contains vitamin A, like shea butter, but it also contains vitamins E and C. Vitamins E and C fight free radicals found in the air! You can’t beat mother nature!

Remember the skin is an organ and needs to be taken care of just as much as our internal organs. This means using natural products not chemically infused ones.

If you’re interested in learning more about balancing the skin’s pH, using all natural products and making your own lotions that are natural  you must subscribe to My Healthy Best newsletter!

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