An Introduction To the Anatomy of the Skin


Understanding How Your Skin Works and What Keeps It Healthy

Your skin is your body’s first line of defense because it interacts directly with the environment.This is why the skin naturally provides protection for itself in many ways. On the other hand we must also protect the skin against the harsh environment. Knowing the basics of how the skin works helps you to understand why some products or skin treatments work while others don't.

Some Facts About Your Skin

The skin is the largest organ of the body and can be called the window to the body because it is the only organ that can be seen.

On the average person, the skin measures approximately 3000 square inches and weighs seven pounds

The skin contains many openings or pores that are used to secrete sweat and oil. There are over 2800 pores per square inch on the surface of the skin for the sweat and oil to be secreted

The skin contains 25% of the body’s blood supply. The blood supply flows through the skin once every minute

The skin is the largest hormone and enzyme producing organ of the body

The 3 Main Layers of the Skin

There are three main layers that make up the skin which covers the entire body

These layers are called the Epidermis, the Dermis and the Subcutaneous Layer. Each of these layers has a very specific function.



The Chemical Composition of the Skin

The Skin is Composed of:

  • Water 70.0 %
  • Protein 25.5 %
  • Lipids 2%
  • Trace Minerals 0.5%
  • All Other 2%

Because the skin is composed mostly of water, you can see why a daily intake of plenty of water is so important for healthy skin. It is also important to ensure that the skin is well moisturized and protected from the sun to prevent drying out and premature aging.

The other chemical components that make up the skin are derived from the food that we eat and breathing fresh air. A healthy, well-balanced diet, fresh air and plenty of exercise are therefore essential for healthy skin.

Water, Food and Oxygen which are the chemical components of the skin, responsible for keeping it healthy are delivered to the cells which make up the skin. The Skin is made up of made of millions of these tiny skin cells.

The Skin Cells

Within the layers of the skin itself, there are different types of skin cells that perform various functions to keep the skin functioning properly.

Since the body and the skin in particular are constantly under attack from environmental factors that can cause physical damage to the body or harmful bacteria that cause infection or disease; cells need to grow, develop and increase in number on an ongoing basis in order to repair the body and keep it strong and healthy.

New cells have to multiply or increase in order to replace diseased or damaged human tissue. By default, the skin naturally renews itself every thirty days by a process of replacing the skin cells. As we become older, cell growth slows down and the effects of aging begin to show as a result because new cells are not being developed as quickly.

Cell Proliferation

The process by which skin cells divide themselves and increase in number is called Cell Proliferation. When we say that skin cells proliferate, what we really mean is that new skin cells are being made.

Cell Growth

Nutrients and oxygen are necessary for new, young cells to grow and develop. Without them, a cell will die. Cells depend on the nutrients contained in the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe in.

Breathing is important because it is the process by which food and oxygen are converted into energy for cell growth. It is Oxygen that carries the nutrients to all the other cells in the body. Oxygen reaches all the cells in the body by means of the blood stream.

Oxygen is Essential for Healthy Skin for Several Reasons:

  • Aids in the removal of toxins, waste and other cellular debris
  • Carries nutrients and O2 Haemoglobin to the Mitochondria inside of all cells
  • A lack of Oxygen leads to a malfunction of the Mitochondria which causes cell death

While Oxygen is important for Cell Growth, the way by which the Oxygen is delivered to the cells is equally important.

How Oxygen is Delivered to the Skin Cells

When we breathe, Oxygen is taken into the body and absorbed into the blood stream by means of the lungs. The process by which Oxygen is taken into the body through the lungs is called Aerobic Metabolism.

Skin Cells, can only absorb Oxygen from the blood stream. This is the only way to get Oxygen into the cells. The process by which skin cells absorb Oxygen from the blood is called Anaerobic Metabolism.

Since the Skin cells operate with Anaerobic and NOT Aerobic Metabolism, this means that Oxygen cannot be administered to the outside of the skin.

How Oxygen Reaches the Skin Cells


When we breathe, air enters the body through the lungs. Besides Oxygen, the air that we breathe also contains many other gases as well as impurities caused by pollution

Inside the lungs, the air that we breathe in passes into the Alveoli which are small sac-like structures that resemble a bunch of tiny grapes.

The purpose of the Alveoli is to absorb Oxygen when we breathe in. The Alveoli’s other purpose is to get rid of waste Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide is expelled back out through the lungs via the Alveoli

The Alveoli is surrounded by a small network of capillaries and other blood vessels.

Oxygen is absorbed into these Blood Capillaries through a thin membrane inside the Alveoli. This is how Oxygen first enters the blood stream.

The Blood

Blood contains two types of cells called Red Blood Cells and White Blood Cells.

Red Blood Cells carry oxygen and nutrients to all of the other cells of the body

White Blood Cells protect the body against diseases, infections and attacks from harmful foreign bodies that enter the blood stream


These blood cells are suspended in a fluid called Blood Plasma. The liquid Blood Plasma causes the blood cells to flow freely through the body’s blood vessels enabling them to be transported to all other cells in the various parts of the body.


After the Oxygen enters the blood stream, it is dissolved into the Blood Plasma and then diffused through the cell walls of the Red Blood Cells.

This process of absorbing Oxygen into the Red Blood Cells causes the blood to become oxygenated. The term, “Oxygenate” simply means to enrich the blood with Oxygen.

Oxygen-enriched blood flows throughout the body by means of a network of blood vessels. The purpose of the Blood Vessels is merely to distribute the blood to wherever it needs to be.

The blood vessels themselves are also vital for healthy skin and reducing the signs of ageing in the skin.

The Blood Vessels

Blood Vessels consist of arteries, veins and capillaries

Arteries enable healthy, oxygenated blood to flow from the heart to the various regions of the body. Arteries are shown as the Red Blood Vessels in the diagram of the skin.

Once the oxygen and nutrients have been used up by the cells of the body tissue, the de-oxygenated blood then flows back to the heart. Veins transport de-oxygenated blood back to the heart. Veins are shown as the Blue Blood Vessels in the diagram of the skin.


Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that branch off from the main blood vessels to supply blood to the tiniest, remote parts of the body where it is needed.

The skin has many blood vessels. The face in particular, has a network of many fine capillaries and other blood vessels. The blood supplied through these blood vessels enable the skin to be nourished and protected against infection.

Red Blood cells carry Oxygen and nutrients to the skin. White Blood Cells fight off harmful bacteria in the skin. Bacteria in the skin are often the cause of skin diseases, infections and skin eruptions.

What Happens When We Age

As we age, our blood vessels tend to become hardened, weak or clogged. This leads to poor blood circulation and broken capillaries which restricts the flow of nutrient rich, oxygenated blood to the skin. Naturally, an under-nourished skin results in sagging and obvious signs of ageing.

This is why a healthy supply of blood and properly functioning blood vessels are so important for a healthy, glowing, youthful skin.

DMK Enzyme Treatments purposely dilate the capillaries in order to increase the flow of healthy, oxygenated blood and nutrients to the skin.

Now that you understand how Food and Oxygen are supplied to the skin and what’s needed to keep it healthy, it’s time to look at the actual layers of the skin in greater detail and see how they work.

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Danné Montague-King South Africa

DMK is THE ONE - World Leaders in Paramedical Skin Revision!