The epidermis

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Your epidermis is the outermost layer of your skin.  It’s what the world sees when it looks at you, & it protects you from the elements.

The epidermis is made up of 4 – 5 different layers, some of which are viable (living) & some of which are non-viable (dead). The very lowest layer, or basal layer is where all new cells proliferate from & where our pigmenting cells are found. The uppermost layer is called the stratum corneum which is a waterproofing & protective layer.  Between these top and bottom layers the cells of your skin undergo changes & eventually lose contact with their blood supply, meaning that they essentially “die”, and slough off from the uppermost stratum corneum.

We want our skins to have a strong stratum corneum since this layer protects us against the elements, but as we age the rate at which the stratum corneum sloughs off slows down, & it thus has the tendency to build up.  Ideally our skin cells should take 28 days to move from the basal layer where they are created to the stratum corneum where they slough off, but as this process slows with aging it results in the skin looking uneven & sallow.

We treat the epidermis to stimulate a faster turnover of superficial skin cells, using chemical peels or exfoliation.
How do I know if I need an epidermal treatment? 
If you have one or more of the following, you should consider an epidermal treatment:
  • congestion
  • blackheads
  • whiteheads
  • milia
  • dull or sallow complexion
  • pigmentation
  • dryness* (not flaking)
  • uneven texture

How do epidermal treatments like chemical peels work?  

Chemical peels temporarily disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, leading to the shedding or removal of the top few layers of cells on your skin. A signal is sent to your basal layer (the lowest layer of your epidermis) to produce more brand new cells, & so the cycle of cell turnover is increased & your skin tone & texture improves!

A similar effect can be produced using active at-home treatments, like Vitamin A, and indeed these kinds of products are often recommended to you so that you can continue stimulating your epidermis in between visits to your skincare provider.  At-home treatments are less potent & therefore take longer to produce a visible or tactile result, but this doesn’t make them any less important: in the long run your skin has more exposure to  your home care than it does to your in-clinic treatments.
At-home or in-clinic exfoliation will also remove the top later of your epidermis, but importantly, peels have ingredients in them that stimulate the basal layer, while some exfoliation systems remove the top layers without stimulating the basal layer, which can actually thin your skin.  If you are exfoliating at home, make sure you are doing something to stimulate your basal layer too!
Too book a skincare assessment and/or peel with us, give us a call on (021) 6833048 ext 1, or send Sally an email on sally@capeaesthetics.co.za

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