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Friday, 29 July 2011 12:22

Understanding... Cells

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So let us get started with an apology. If you are like me, your aesthetic schooling never educated you on cells. Mine did not either. Your on-going training has led you more into product knowledge and equipment tools-of-the-trade than pure, raw, deep-down at the root skin chemistry. Imagine applying topical products and using equipment that can electrify, scrape, burn, disintegrate and otherwise damage the cellular structure of the largest organ of the body – the skin. Therefore, I have to assume that the majority of aestheticians have no idea at all about what they are really doing to the skin. So let us change all that starting right now.

The Basics
Mitochondria, protoplasm, keratinocyte, mesodermal, ATP, basal, spinous, DNA, granular, melanocyte, langerhans, follicle, merkel, cytoplasma, mitosis, fibroblast, macrophage, adipocyte, friction ridge – are just a few of the very many cells that make up the skin. To properly list, define and expand on each and every cell that are the foundation of the human body would require every single page of a DERMASCOPE Magazine – and that is without any advertising. In other words, the “cell” is what gives our body, and therefore our skin – its life!
The life of the skin cell starts deep in the lower layers. A cell’s first infusion comes at the basal layer where it is subjected to langerhans cells (immune system), keratinocytes cells (the fiber/bulk of the skin), melanocytes cells (soon to become melanin) and so on. Each of these cells has a nucleus. Inside the nucleus are a cell’s DNA, RNA and ATP. The DNA will give the skin’s cells their character from their genetic predecessors. The RNA will give the skin’s cells their personality which is the accumulation of everything it learns from birth to death. The ATP is the cell’s “energy” provider. It is responsible for the electrical impulses that move each skin cell through its required duties and functions.
There are three major influences that form or direct the life of a cell. The most prevalent, and most difficult to control, is the aging process; the second obstacle to healthy cells is UVA/UVB exposure; and the third is diet and nutrition. Since the subject of this issue of DERMASCOPE is “Age Management,” we will focus the rest of this article on the ‘aging process.’


  • Skin cells die and re-grow every 19 to 25 days.
  • The skin loses approximately 30,000 plus dead cells off the surface every minute.
  • The skin measures 16 to 21 square feet.
  • The skin’s average thickness is approximately .10 inches.
  • An average square inch of skin has 20 blood arteries/veins/capillaries; 50,000 plus melanocytes; 600 plus sweat glands; and over 1,000 nerve endings.
  • As skin ages, its layers thin out thereby allowing the daily lumps and bumps of life to damage it.
  • The skin’s ability to self-heal decreases as a person ages.
  • Because the epidermis has no blood supply, its source comes from infusion through the lower layers.
  • As a result of the skin being forced to intake oxygen through its pores, a clean regime is of utmost importance to eliminating the deficiencies of both the necessary oxidation of the cells as well as the anti-oxidation effect on “free radicals” that are inherent in the aging process.
  • The various internal glands responsible for supplying the various elements necessary for a healthy skin cell such as nutrition, hydration, oxygenation, protection, desquamation, et cetera. decrease their production during aging thereby reducing the skin’s ability to self-repair, self-protect and perform its functions as mandated.
  • Stress in the human body causes an increase of ‘cortisol,’ which in turn causes a degradation of the protein ‘collagen’ which then accelerates skin aging.
  • The cells in younger skin have a faster turnover rate.
  • The more layers of melanin cells, the darker the color of skin.
  • Cells are formed through mitosis at the lower layers.
  • Cells move in an upward direction normally starting at the basal layer and, depending on age and other influences, will arrive at the top layer (stratum corneum) some 20 to 60 days later where they should be automatically ‘sloughed off’ (but usually are not).
  • Aging skin becomes thinner causing the cell repair rate to decrease which could result in the dermis layer
    being damaged.

So What Does All this mean?
Skin Cells have the same three requirements as every other organ/system in the human body: Oxygen, hydration and energy.

Very little of our inhalation of air through our nostrils and mouth ever make it to skin cells. Which means the largest organ of the body gets the least amount of oxygen. Therefore, the skin has to pull oxygen in from the environment.
Using its pores as a suction tool – aging causes a decrease in the pores ability to open and shut thereby causing a suffocation effect. No oxygen – no life; no oxygen – no oxidation; no oxygen – no disposing of harmful free radicals. A decrease in oxygen will have a direct result on the RNA in the nuclei of the cells causing, among other things, poor inter-cell communications and different reactive skin on different areas of the body. Poor oxygen flow contributes to the skin cells ability to self-repair and ‘think for itself’

What to Do?
Have your clients commit to two different regimens. First, they should have a regular confirmed appointment with you, their aesthetician, a minimum of once per month. Your goal is to properly clean out the pores as deep as possible and to professionally exfoliate their dead skin cells from their face/neck/body. Second, they must commit to a proper cleansing routine at home, morning and night, for the rest of their life. I realize this is no small order, so educating your client as to “why” is essential.

Products to Use: Natural is more important than organic. For deep pore cleansing, herbs and botanicals such as cucumber, balm mint, sage and slippery elm bark are great. For exfoliation: Natural digestive enzymes from sources such as papaya and/or pineapple work perfectly.

You do not see anything growing in a desert (other than an occasional oasis). Depending on which expert you want to believe, the human body (and skin) is comprised of 65 to 85 percent water. As we age, our ability to take in water decreases, and further, our ability to hold onto that water also decreases.
The best known moisturizer by far is hyaluronic acid, a protein produced in the fibroblasts located in the dermis of the skin. This ‘lubricant’ can be found everywhere in the human body: Muscle, bones, joints, various organs, and of course,the skin.
Unfortunately, with aging, there is an automatic slowdown of bodily functions, which, in this case, affects the hyaluronic acid production. This seriously comprises the health of the skin cell in so many ways including, but not limited to, protective ability, tensile strength, the upward mobility of the natural evolution through the layers and, of course, its aesthetic beauty. A skin cell is just not a viable contributor to the overall health of the largest organ without hydration; and while there are several other kinds of cell hydration, if you are like me, only the best will do.

What to Do?

A. Hyaluronic acid is manufactured in the fibroblast cells at the base of the dermis. As a child, these fibroblasts cells generally work 24/7. As we age, these cells lose their ability to put out a quality product. At the same time, the manufacturing cells take a lot more vacations, sick days, lunch hours, and coffee breaks, which means a loss of quantity as well as quality. For optimum performance, the fibroblast cells must be held responsible for
their duties.

There are many generally accepted modalities for giving the fibroblast cells a good swift kick in the butt. Some of these are: Equipment such as microdermabrasion and electrical stimulation; enzyme peels; certain massage techniques and skin brushing.

In addition, topical supplementation using creams, lotions, ointment, gels, serums, et cetera is viable as long as certain restrictions are addressed. First, the hyaluronic acid cells used in the topical formula must be natural (the skin hates chemicals and synthetics) and the molecular structure of each cell must be small enough to penetrate the first six layers and get to the dermis. Second, because the hyaluronic acid is mixed with many other ingredients including carriers and bases, the same rules of efficacy and molecular size apply. At the risk of repetition, the rule of topical supplementation is the ability to penetrate down from the surface to layer number six, the dermis.

B. Unfortunately, there cannot be good cellular structure without a continuous supply of moisture. Of course, the best comes from the fibroblast cells, until the aging process slows down production. So in effect, we need to “stockpile” hyaluronic acid and water and other known moisturizers every chance we get. Entering onto the scene is the collagen cell. This protein is also manufactured in the fibroblast cell and is also influenced by the aging process in both areas of quality and quantity.

I liken the collagen cell to a dry sponge seeking out water. As the sponge soaks up moisture it swells. Then, over a period of time, the liquid evaporates or is squeezed out of the sponge which reverts back to a dry, rough surface. That is pretty much what happens to a collagen cell. It searches and seeks out moisture in the body, in the skin and in the environment, sucks it up, and like a “time-release” pill, releases it as needed.

So collagen protein cells are an important aspect of hydration. The same rules apply for the continuing production as does hyaluronic acid above. The quantity of the collagen cell used in a cream or lotion applies the same rules as well – it must be natural and the molecular structure must be small enough to penetrate down to the dermis. Remember: There is no use having one without the other.

C. Drink lots of water. Even though most of the internal organs will use up whatever liquids enter the GI tract, some of that liquid will make it to the skin. So the more you drink, the more gets to the skin cells – the better the skin is able to stave off the ravages of the aging process.

It is no secret that the older we get, the less energy we have. We tire easily. We think slower. Our memory worsens. The skin has the same problems with aging. The energy source in the cells of the skin is Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP). It is the ‘spark’ that causes birth, movement, functional integrity, defense and compliancy: Without it, nothing happens – there is no body, no skin and therefore no life. I liken ATP to a rechargeable battery. During the day, we use up a lot of the energy stored in the battery and at night while we sleep, it recharges. Enter the aging process. The old battery does not charge up as well and also has a hard time holding onto that charge. When this happens the body and the skin suffer because there is not enough quality and quantity energy to perform its duties. Every cell of the skin is at risk of malfunction because the aging process interferes with energy production.

What to Do?
Almost all sources of cellular energy is derived from the food we eat and the ability of our digestive tract to assimilate that food into useable energy.
The body burns protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, et cetera if ‘broken down’ properly in the digestive tract. With age, the GI tract loses its ability to dissect our food intake properly. This causes a poor supply of fuel to burn as energy, which in turn, causes the “batteries” in our skin cells to rundown. One can imagine the cascading effect: Old, poorly energized skin has become thin, pigmented, veinous, creepy, et cetera all because the cells do not have the energy to get the job done. Diet and nutrition play a huge role in slowing down the aging of the skin.

Recommendations: Leafy greens; Spirulina; Omega 3s and 6s; swimming fish; and vitamins A, C, D and E.

In Conclusion
Everything in the human body is controlled by the health of each and every cell. The skin is no different. The aging process slows down all cellular functions, reducing quality and quantity. It is incumbent upon the aesthetician to provide services and products that supplement the skin to slow down this aging process. It is also necessary to educate the consumer on cleanliness, product penetration, at-home regimens, proper anti-aging diet and nutrition and exercise.

For over 30 years, Dr. Michael Tick has been studying and researching the largest organ of the body, the skin. He is now considered to be a world pioneer in the field of transdermal infusion the healthcare of the future. He is a no-nonsense promoter of healthy skin, out-of-the-box scientist, innovative teacher, and the aesthetician’s best friend. www.edimi.com

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