Beautiful Skin March 7, 2011 The skin is our principle organ of beauty, touch, pleasure, and sensuality. Your skin is the largest organ of the body, accounting for 12% to 16% body weight covers 12 to 20 square feet. With age the amount of subcutaneous (under-the-skin) fat is reduced resulting in a looser look to the skin. Technically skin is of three layers : the epidermis (“overskin”) or top layer, the dermis (“skin”) or middle layer and the subcutis (“under skin”) or bottom layer. Collagen forms the structural network of our skin and is the most abundant protein in the body. It is primarily composed of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. It is one of the strongest proteins in nature and gives skin its strength and durability. As we age, it is believed that collagen begins to deteriorate and causes the skin to become thinner and eventually sag. Elastin is similar to collagen but is a more stretchable protein that maintains the skin’s elasticity. The approximate chemical composition of the skin is: Water 70.0% Protein 25.5% Lipids 2.0% Trace Minerals 0.5% Most people want flawless skin with complexions that are smooth, taut, and exude a dewy glow. Unfortunately, this is not always possible when your skins take a beating. Sometimes your appearance is affected by genetics, age, sun exposure, and unhealthy choices such as poor diet, too much alcohol, stress or harsh chemicals that can prematurely age you – making you look older! One of the biggest culprits responsible for skin damage is long-term exposure to the sun, and most sun damage occurs before the age of 20. The harmful effects of spending too much time in the sun is due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and this type of sun damage is known as photoaging. It speeds up the rate of aging of the skin and increases the risk for developing skin cancer. The most common signs of damaged skin include dry, scaly skin ; skin with a yellow, leathery appearance; broken capillaries; fine, coarse wrinkles or pigmentation problems. Sun spots, also known as liver spots or age spots, are flat, brownish colored patches that appear on the body, often on the face, arms and hands. Although these spots are benign, they are extremely unattractive and often appear with wrinkles and rough skin.