Functions of the Skin and Different Skin Types: Insights

Heather Campbell
 min read

The human skin has many functions, apart from the obvious function to protect us from outside influences.

Functions of the skin and different skin types: InsightsDid you know that the skin is in fact the largest organ in the human body? Indeed, it is a flexible and resistant membrane structured in several layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis.

The skin forms a protective barrier for the body against all external elements, but it also provides other vital functions.

The human skin is our largest organ and has protective, sensory, metabolic, thermoregulatory, hydration, and exchange functions. Skin care is important and depends on one’s skin type: normal, oily, dry, or combination skin. Our skin consists of three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.

Read on to learn more about the different components of the skin, its functions, and the types of skin that exist.

Functions of the skin and different skin types: What is skin?

The skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. Zoom in on these three types of layers.

The epidermis

The epidermis is the most superficial part of the skin, the one in contact with the outside.

It is covered with hydrolipidic film (protective film made up of water and sebum) which protects from external aggressions and which regulates hydration.

The dermis

It is the second layer of the skin which is located under the epidermis. It is a vascularized and sensitive connective tissue.

The dermis contains:

  • Fibrocytes that help to heal
  • Mast cells against the allergic reaction
  • Histiocytes for immune defense
  • Sebaceous glands
  • Sweat glands (office workers know this all too well as they sit on their office chairs for long periods of time during the hot months and are confronted with butt sweat)
  • Collagen fibers for support and strength (natural collagen production helps to make cellulite less visible for example)
  • Elastin fibers for skin elasticity
  • And the tactile corpuscles.

The hypodermis

The hypodermis is the last and deepest layer of the skin, and is an adipose (fatty) connective tissue.

The hypodermis contains the adipocytes and the hairs.

Sidenote: Melanin is responsible for the coloring of the skin and hair and its function is to protect the skin from UV rays.

The functions of the skin

The skin does not only have a protective function. Indeed, it has other functions such as:

  • A thermoregulatory function against cold and excess heat
  • A sensory function
  • An exchange function
  • A metabolic function
  • And finally, a hydration function.

The hydrogen potential of the skin (called the pH)

The pH of the skin defines whether an environment is acidic or basic. Knowing that the neutral pH is 7, you should know that the pH of the skin is slightly acidic at a pH of 6.5.

Dry skin has a lower pH. Oily skin has a higher pH.

Soap has a pH of 9 and is basic, which disturbs the acidity of the epidermis.

It is preferable to use skincare products that respect the pH of the skin, such as milk.

Otherwise, the hydrolipidic film can be modified until it disappears and it will no longer play its role of microbial protector.

Hence, moisturizing your body after each shower is important so that the epidermis regains its stability.

Skin examination

Performing a skin examination allows us to define the manual techniques, plant-based skin care products, or devices best suited for each type of skin.

The different types of skin

Every person is different and therefore every person has their own skin type.

Whether it’s oily, dry or mixed, do you know the difference between these different types?

Normal skin

The characteristics of this skin type can be defined as a velvety and fresh complexion with an even skin texture.

There are no blackheads, no imperfections, and the skin is soft, smooth, and supple.

It has a good tone and firmness and is hydrated.

This is the ideal type of skin because there are no particular problems other than maintaining this balance in the face of age and external and internal aggressions.

Oily skin with seborrhea

It is skin with a shiny appearance, an irregular skin texture, with the presence of comedones, folliculitis or microcysts.

The skin is thick with an oily, grainy feel and has a good tone and firmness and the hydration is satisfactory.

Prevent dehydration by avoiding aggressive and detergent products and avoid too rich creams.

Oily skin with seborrhea retention

The complexion is blurred, asphyxiated, devitalized on this type of skin, and has a regular skin texture.

There are many comedones, microcysts and pustules, and the skin is thick.

It is essential to clean deeply and to descale, purify, soothe and lightly exfoliate your skin.

Dry skin

The complexion is dull and lacks radiance. The skin texture is fine and regular.

The appearance of this skin is dry, rough to the touch. The skin is thin.

There is a lack of flexibility and hydration is low.

Advice for this type of skin: nourish, moisturize continuously, cleanse gently and protect.

Combination skin

Combination skin is a combination of several characteristics.

The most common is combination skin with an oily tendency. Therefore, different needs must be met depending on the area.

Orange-peel skin

Also known as cellulite, there are three types:

  • Adipose cellulite is the best known and most common. It is the result of being overweight, as well as ingesting sugars of all kinds. It is due to the energy that we do not spend after eating.
  • Aqueous cellulite is linked to poor blood circulation and water retention. It can be present in all women, regardless of their morphology. It is not the most difficult to eliminate.
  • Fibrous cellulite is the one that is well embedded in the fibers of our body. It is sensitive and painful to the touch, it is the most complicated to eradicate.

Specific treatments are recommended to fight against each type of cellulite. Massages with essential oils can help to eliminate orange peel skin, as well as hydromassage against cellulite.

For more information about massage movements and techniques, read our other post about the best massage techniques to relax your body.

Functions of the skin and different skin types: Conclusion

The skin is the most extensive organ of the human body. It plays several roles including protection against external threats.

Whatever the skin color, each skin is unique and reacts in its own way to the environment. As such, the skincare treatments should be adapted to the skin type in question.

It is important to take care of it with appropriate hygiene for each skin type.

Taking care of your skin means taking care of your whole body!

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More