Dermis Love: The Basics

There is no organ that is more prevalent than skin.  Unfortunately, beyond the need for sun protection during the summer, our skin rarely gets much consideration when we discuss health and wellness.  The more I think about my own skin the more I realize I just don’t know that much about it.  Dermis Love is the name I am giving  to my journey of discovery about my skin, its function and what I’m suppose to do to keep it healthy.

Somewhere, in the back of my mind I have always known that skin is an organ.  Beyond that, I have never given it a great deal of thought.  In fact, it is the body’s largest organ with an adult skin weighing 8 pounds on average and covering approximately 22 square feet.  I have always thought of the skin as fairly inert, but in reality there is a remarkable amount of activity going on in your skin.  It is made of numerous cell layers, nerves and glands which all work together to perform a number of functions. These functions include:

  • Protection: The skin protects our internal organs from environmental threats
  • Sensation: The skin contains countless nerve endings which help us identify, evaluate and interact with our environment
  • Heat Loss: The skin helps regulate body temperature by opening pores when you are hot and by constricting vessels to reduce surface blood flow when you are cold.
  • Water & Nutrient Barrier: The skin acts as a barrier keeping essential bodily fluids from evaporating and preventing critical nutrients from being lost.
  • Absorption: The skin allows absorption of important elements such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

All of this activity takes place within three distinctive layers which make up our skin.  The outermost layer is the epidermis and consist largely of cells called keratinocytes. These cells are made of keratin which is the same protein that forms our hair and nails. In a cycle that takes roughly five weeks these cells are formed and grow out to create the stratum corneum which is the tough outer layer of skin that we see. By the time the cells reach this outer layer they are actually dead, lacking both nuclei and organelles. Below is a nice pic detailing the various layers of the epidermis.

Below the epidermis is a thicker layer of skin called the dermis and this is where most of the activity takes place. The dermis contains a myriad of glands, nerves, vessels and more which help the organ perform its vital functions. It also contains fibers of collagen and elastin which gives skin its elasticity and strength.

The final layer of skin is called the hypodermis or the subcutis and consist of adipose cells. This layer provides connective tissue which helps hold the outer layers of skin to the body while also providing a layer of fat that further cushions and protects the body, provides fuel reserves and provides a layer of heat insulation.  In the image below you can see the Subcutis lying directly below the dermis.

So, we have taken the first step on our journey towards skin enlightenment.   I hope this has provided a basic foundation for things to come.  If you have any questions or information you would like to share, please comment below.

UP NEXT: Since we are starting this series in the Summer it seems appropriate to talk about how your skin interacts with and is affected by the sun.




Disclaimer: Please note that we are not doctors. We have collected this information from various internet sources. This information has not been evaluated by any government agency.

Ingredient Corner: Natural Shampoo

As I bottle up our first production batch of our natural shampoo I thought it would be a good time discuss some of the ingredients we are using in our latest creation.  Some of them  are familiar household ingredients but others are a bit more exotic and unfamiliar.

Olive oil ~ OK, so nothing too exotic here.  Just because olive oil is a familiar name in culinary as well as hair & skin care circles, doesn’t mean we should underestimate its benefits.  Olive oil is high in oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid, which is wonderful for dry, thirsty hair.  Olive oil can help treat smooth split ends, reduce static, control dandruff, smooth the hair cuticle, and improve the overall health of your hair and scalp.

Babassu oil ~ This was a new one for me.  Babassu oil is rich in fatty acids, also called lipids, which makes it an excellent emollient.   The breakdown of the major acids is as follows:

Fatty acid Percentage
Lauric 50.0%
Myristic 20.0%
Palmitic 11.0%
Oleic 10.0%
Stearic 3.5%

Lauric and myristic acids have melting points relatively close to human body temperature, so babassu oil can be applied to the skin as a solid that melts on contact.  It shares this and many other properties with coconut oil and is often used as a substitute for coconut oil.  Babassu is a non-drying oil which means it will moisturize the skin or hair without leaving an oily sheen.   This wonderful oil is derived from the nut of the Babassu palm which is native to the Amazon region of South America.   A nice characteristic of this tree is that the whole tree is used when it is harvested.  In addition to deriving oil from the fruit, the leaves are used to make thatch for houses or they are used to make woven mats.  The wood of the tree is used for lumber.  Here are a few pics of the babassu palm and its fruit:

Stand of Babassu Palm trees.


Clump of Babassu Fruit hanging from the tree.


The inside of the Babassu Fruit after it has been cracked open.

Avocado Oil ~ If you have been following us for a while you will know that I absolutely love using avocado oil.  We currently use this oil in our body wash and I was very excited to add it to the new shampoo formula.  This ultra rich organic oil is a contains high amounts of Vitamin A, B1, B2, D, and E.  It also contains amino acids, sterols, pantothenic acid, lecithin, and other essential fatty acids.   Further, it is a deep penetrating oil which absorbs deeper into the dermis than many other vegetable oils.

Castor Oil ~ Castor oil is derived from beans that grow on the aptly named Castor Bean Plant.  It is quite a beautiful plant, see below.

Castor oil is another deep penetrating oil that is rich in nutrients like omega fatty acids, critical for cell health.  As a humectant, castor oil draws water to the area its applied.  In our application it will help moisturize the skin, reducing flaky dry scalp.  Because it is a deep penetrating oil it delivers its nutrients past the surface layers and down into the connective tissue of the skin.  This is important for the scalp since hair follicles lay down below the surface layers of the skin.

Kukui Nut Oil ~ Kukui Nut oil is derived from the Kukui tree which is native to Hawaii.  This oil is a natural moisturizer that protects the skin from drying, acts as a natural sunscreen, and promotes healing and rejuvenation. Kukui Nut oil is homeostatic, meaning that it helps to restore the skin’s balance. Kukui Oil acts as a “carrier oil” because it exhibits qualities of being able to penetrate to all skin levels and protects tissue from drying.


Pure Kukui Nut oil has been used by Hawaiians for centuries to protect and heal skin exposed to their tropical climate which includes harsh sun, drying winds, and salt water.  Traditionally, Kukui Nut oil was used to anoint newborns to protect their young skin from the elements.  Hawaiians also noted that the oil helped to soothe skin with minor sunburns, rejuvenated dry skin, and minimize wrinkles and fine lines while softening and moisturizing the skin.


So now you know a little more about the oils that we use in our new natural shampoo for normal to dry hair.  It is so interesting to learn about the oils, the plants from which they are derived and the way that native cultures have known for centuries what we are just now learning.  A gentle reminder that over the past few centuries, we “advanced” civilizations have likely forgotten as much, and perhaps a good bit more, than we have learned.

Live Simple & Be Well,


Disclaimer:  None of the above statements have been reviewed by a member of the medical or regulatory community.