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The Stratum Corneum

Thu, Apr 1, 2010

Healthy Skin Tips, Skin Basics

The stratum corneum (Latin for “horny layer”) consists of dead skin cells that, in losing their living nuclei as they are pushed to the surface by new cells forming underneath them, have been flattened into tiny flakes. These flakes, by their shape, interlock into a shielding veneer.

In young skin, his veneer layer is rapidly replaced by new cells and therefore accounts for a smaller proportion of the skin’s thickness. Consequently, the color of the living skin can “grow” through better. Also, since the stratum corneum of young skin is subjected to a shorter period of wear and tear (as it is more rapidly replaced), it is smoother than the same layer in older skin. In combination, this smooth glow is what we define as a youthful complexion.

In older skin, while the stratum corneum may be thinner (since it is not replaced rapidly by new cells), since it also sloughs off less rapidly, it nevertheless represents a higher proportion of the whole skin. The effect is that there is less inner “glow” and that what there is tends to be masked. Or as one elderly lady told us acerbically, “Honey, I haven’t blushed in years!” In addition, because it remains in place longer, the stratum corneum of older skin tends to have what amountto tiny erosions, which, both to the touch and to the naked eye, appear as grayish, rough, dry skin. Less glow and a rough surface is what we describe as a tired or aging complexion.

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