Going Deep—How Your Skin’s Layers Work

Layers of the Skin

How much do you know about the layers of your skin? Do you know how your skincare ingredients work, and are you applying them in the right order?

Layers of the SkinLayers Upon Layers

Your skin is made up of three layers. At the surface is the epidermis—the skin everybody sees. The epidermis sits atop the dermis (where sweat glands and hair follicles are located) and the hypodermis below that (where fat cells are stored).

The top layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum. Consisting of around 15-20 layers of dead cells, this layer is continually sloughed off as new cells migrate up from the dermis. As we age, this shedding process slows down.

Even though these surface skin cells are dead, they are still able to absorb up to six times their weight in moisture. That’s why all the skincare magic takes place at this top layer.

What Goes First?

Although the stratum corneum can absorb moisture, it’s not so good at keeping it there—cue the creams and serums!

Skincare products primarily fall into three categories.

  • Humectants attract and hold moisture;
  • Emollients make the skin feel smooth; and
  • Occlusive agents block the evaporation of moisture.

“Hydrating ingredients improve cell turnover and strengthen skin’s natural moisture factor,” explains Cynthia Beadle, licensed aesthetician and beauty consultant for DHC.

“Emollients in moisturizers enhance the oil barrier that protects the skin, serving as a safeguard against dehydration and environmental stressors.”

In the Japanese skincare regimen, that means starting with a double cleanse followed by a toning lotion, then adding a booster, serum and moisturizer in that order.

“Products are applied by weight (from lighter to heavier or fluid to ‘creamy’), because of absorption and the need to mimic skin’s natural makeup,” Cynthia says.

Peek at What’s Inside

The ingredients in skincare products like cleansers, toners, serums and creams may come from botanical sources—like the organic virgin olive oil we use in Deep Cleansing Oil or the antioxidant freshwater algae that powers Astaxanthin Collagen All-in-One Gel.

They may also come from synthetic sources, such as the epidermal growth factor in our EGF Cream, the glycolic acid that helps to balance pH levels in Soothing Lotion, or the peptides that support the skin’s collagen in Beauty Lift Eye Care Essence Roll-On.

The Mix That Matters

In some cases, the “magic” in many J-beauty skincare ingredients lies not only in their individual components but also in the way the ingredients work together. For example, two precious elements show up in a micronized suspension called a nanocolloid in our Platinum Silver Nanocolloid line.

Although platinum by itself reduces free-radical damage and refines the complexion, and silver soothes and fights signs of inflammation, the two precious metals also help ingredients that hydrate and brighten to be absorbed into the skin more easily so that they work more effectively.

“Platinum Silver products have a sensational, ‘silky’ feel and are easily absorbed, leaving the skin feeling soft and comfortable, never ‘greasy’ or heavy,” Cynthia adds.

By educating yourself on the ways skincare ingredients work—as well as the most effective way to layer them—you’ll get the best results from the products you choose. This translates to visible improvements in the appearance of your skin in ways everybody will notice. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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