Skin Health - The Body Edition

Why do we spend so much time focusing on a postage stamp size of skin, when we have it on our whole body?

I believe that skincare should be a focus from head to toe. After all, 97% of skin's surface area is from the neck down.

Hands up if you're guilty of spending more time on your face skincare than your body 👀✋

The skin is the body’s largest organ, but not all skin is the same. Skin structure, and the way it behaves, differs slightly according to where it is on our bodies. Not all skin gets the same treatment either. Some areas of the body, for example the hands and face, are more exposed to external forces such as the sun and cleaning products than other parts. Intelligent skincare should reflect the different needs of skin across the body.

How skin differs across the body

The skin on our face, head, armpits, hands and feet differs slightly to the skin on the rest of our bodies.


Our face is the most noticeable part of our body. The condition and appearance of our facial skin is a key indicator of our overall health and it also plays a significant role in our self-esteem. Problems with facial skin and signs of ageing are highly visible on the face and can affect a person’s confidence. As consumers we want to keep our facial skin in the very best condition and it is for this reason that the face is the focus of so much skincare research and so many skincare products.

Facial skin is particularly thin and the most visible part of the body.
There are four main types of skin: normal, oily, dry and combination.

Like all skin, facial skin performs an important role as a barrier against the external environment. But, unlike the skin on the majority of our body, it is almost always in direct contact with the elements such as the sun and ultra violet rays. Facial skin is particularly thin and sensitive and so is susceptible to ageing.

The skin around the eyes is even thinner and delicate and needs appropriate care. The epidermis (the external layers of skin) is normally about 0.1mm thick; around the eyes it ranges from 0-0.05mm thick


The hands are human tools and their skin is quite different from that of other parts of the body. The skin on the palms is also completely different to that of the back of the hands:

The skin on the palms and balls of the fingers and thumbs is thick and robust.
The back of the hands hardly has any fatty tissue and is especially thin.

The skin on the palms and balls of the fingers and thumbs:

  • has a thick and robust horny layer
  • is rich in fatty and connective tissue
  • is well padded with tissue insensitive to pressure
  • is hair-free and has no sebaceous glands
  • has a high density of sweat glands
  • has a shortage of natural moisturizing factors (NMF)

The skin on the backs of the hands:

  • has hardly any fatty tissue 
  • is especially thin
  • has only a few, fine hairs 
Little or no hair indicates that the number of sebaceous glands is much lower than on other parts of the body.

The hair follicles, from which hair grows, are accompanied by sebaceous glands and therefore responsible for the production of sebum which provides skin with lipids and some of its moisture-binding components. So the hands have fewer lipids and are less able to bind in moisture than other parts of the body.

The skin on the hands is also less able to stabilize the few lipids and moisture-binding components that it has. The pH of the hands is less acidic than on many other parts of the body, so its protective acid mantle – the natural acidity that guards skin - is compromised.

The fact that the skin on the front of the hands is different to that on the back of the hands also means that the overall formation of the hydrolipid film (the emulsion of fat and water that covers the outside of the skin) is weakened. As a result, our hands are more susceptible to dehydration and will dry out rapidly when over worked.

And hands work hard. During the course of a day’s work in the house, office or garden, hands will be exposed to external, oil-stripping, factors. While frequent contact with water alone can dry out the skin, the hands are also regularly subjected to soaps, solvents, changes in temperature and mechanical strain. The natural protection and repair systems of the skin are overworked and this can result in damage to the skin’s barrier function.

What is Barrier Function?

The skin barrier is important to human life. Physically, it protects from external threats such as infectious agents, chemicals, systemic toxicity and allergens. Internally, the skin helps to maintain homeostasis and protects from enhanced loss of water from the body.


The skin on the soles of our feet contains more fat cells in its innermost layer (the subcutis) than in most other parts of the body. This is because our feet need extra padding and shock absorption. They bear three times a human’s body weight with every step and are subjected to manual pressures such as rubbing from tight or crappy fitting shoes or lots of walking and/or running.

Despite their extra padding, excessive rubbing can damage skin’s barrier function and lead to dry skin and ultimately to calluses and corns. Calluses and corns are thickened areas of skin that usually occur on the soles and heels and are roughly round in shape. They press into the deeper layers of skin and can be painful.

The Epidermis (the outermost layers of skin) is thicker on our feet than on other parts of our body –normally at around 0.1mm in total, it ranges between 1-5mm on the soles of the feet. When the skin on our feet is exposed to prolonged pressure and friction, callus production increases and the epidermis becomes thick and hard, a condition known as hyperkeratosis.

The difference between Facial skin and Body skin

Epidermis ( top layer )

Corneocytes are the major components of the stratum corneum,(located in the epidermis) which are flat, dead cells that do not contain a nucleus, covered with a lipid layer. When undamaged, the stratum corneum can prevent most bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances from entering the body. Comparing the epidermis of the face and the whole body, the epidermis of the face is thinner than most of the rest of the body. The corneocytes in the facial skin are smaller in size and also have fewer layers. Facial skin has only 4-8 layers of corneocytes, while body skin usually contains 11-17 layers of corneocytes. It takes only about 1 week for keratinocytes in facial skin to move from the basal layer to the stratum corneum, while this process in other skin areas usually takes about 2 weeks.

Dermis ( middle layer )

Comparing facial dermis with body skin,
Facial dermis has more blood vessels than most other areas of the body. The dermis of the face contains a lot of sebaceous glands, about 900 glands per square centimeter of skin. While on other skin areas (except palms, feet, genital skin), sebaceous glands are scatteredly distributed. Because facial skin has many oil-secreting glands, facial skin is prone to acne. The facial skin contains very few apocrine sweat glands (sweat glands that produce odors). Facial skin is not an area where thick fatty tissue is concentrated in the body.
In short, it can be seen that the facial skin has a more fragile structure than the body skin. On the other hand, facial skin is also an area of ​​skin that is often exposed to direct sunlight, wind and other harsh weather conditions, so it is more prone to dryness and skin aging.
Subcutis (or hypodermis)

The innermost layer of our skin stores energy while padding and insulating the body.  It is mainly composed of:

  • Fat cells (adipocytes): clumped together in cushion-like groups.
  • Special collagen fibres (called tissue septa or boundaries): loose and spongy connective tissues that hold the fat cells together.
  • Blood vessels.

The subcutis pads and insulates the body and is home to fat cells, collagen fibres and blood vessels.

The number of fat cells contained in the subcutis differs on different parts of the body. Moreover, the distribution of fat cells also differs between men and women, as does the structure of other parts of the skin.
Skin Care Routine For The Body

Body hygiene and body care are key to our overall health and wellbeing. Quality skincare products will help you to cleanse and care for the skin on your body and protect it from damaging external influences such as the sun and hot and cold climates. They can also be used to calm irritated skin and treat any concerns that you may have.

So where should your daily skin care routine start?
A good skincare routine helps to restore your skin’s natural balance and keep it looking and feeling great.
Here are 3 steps to care for your body skin!
Cleanse, Care and Protect
Cleanse - The fundamental reason for body cleansing is to remove dirt and sweat to keep skin clean and healthy and prevent unpleasant body odour.

Over-exposure to water, as well as to harsh cleansing products, can dry out skin and weaken its barrier function. The following cleansing suggestions will help to keep skin healthy-looking:

  • Reduce bath time and water temperature: Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from the skin.
  • Choose a cleanser that is gentle on skin.
  • Pat rather than rub skin dry so that it retains some moisture (oil based products are most effective when applied to damp skin).
  • Moisturise well after cleansing.

Care - products will hydrate and replenish skin, preventing it from drying out. Moisturising your skin not only increases its water content, but protects it and encourages proper desquamation (the process by which skin sheds dead cells) leaving it feeling smooth, soft and comfortable. Care products can also be used to target and treat specific skin concerns. For example, very dry skin is caused by the fact that the skin’s barrier function is impaired. Care products can help to address this concern by restoring missing lipids to help repair the skin.


Why protect? A small dose of sunlight can have a positive influence on our mood.

Apply sun protection preferably before going into the sun: the product needs time to spread evenly on the skin. Reapply regularly, especially after swimming or sweating.

Sunlight has many positive effects on the body:
It increases our vitality and well‐being, promotes circulation and metabolic processes and activates vitamin D production. But we only need a small dose.

The body is able to produce its own protective mechanisms to help against the negative effects of UV radiation – pigmentation, thickening of the external layers of skin, producing antioxidants and the formulation of UV filtering substances such as urocanic acid. But skin needs time and low dosages of UV to be able to protect itself and benefits from additional protection.

Over exposure to UV rays is one of the main causes of premature ageing of the skin and can lead to pathological changes of the skin – in the worst cases to skin cancer. The application of SPF is highly recommended to protect the body when it is exposed to UV rays.

I hope this helped give you a basic understanding of the skin all over your body. As always if you have any questions, comments or concerns please fell free to get ahold of me.

Thanks for reading


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