Skin is the largest organ of the body, covering and protecting from outside attacks by physical trauma, chemical reactions, or microbial invaders. Skin of the average adult human exceeds 22 square feet yet is generally no thicker than 2 millimeters, or 1/16 of an inch. It regulates body temperature through sweating, detects information from objects by touch, and acts as a sun shield to protect the body from harmful ultraviolet rays while also initiating the process of vitamin D production during sun exposure.
Skin is comprised of two major tissue layers, the epidermis and dermis. The epidermis contains three types of dendritic cells: melanocytes, Langerhans, and Merkel cells. Melanocytes produce skin’s primary pigment called melanin. There are two types of melanin, eumelanin, which is brownish or black, and pheomelanin, which is reddish or yellow. Both are synthesized from tyrosine, one of the 20 amino acids used by cells to synthesize proteins. Tyrosinase is the main enzyme responsible for increased melanogenesis, leading to conditions such as freckles, solar lentigines, acanthosis nigricans (dark discoloration in body folds and creases), melasma, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancers such as melanoma.
The number of melanocyte cells is consistent in all skin types regardless of their ethnicity; however, the number of active melanocytes that produce melanin pigment varies greatly. In other words, it is not the number of melanocytes within the epidermis that influence skin pigmentation, but the genetically pre-programmed activity of the melanocyte cells that produce individual skin color. Variations in genes can be traced to geographic origin and correlate to skin, hair, and eye color.
Subscribe to continue reading this article, plus gain access to all DERMASCOPE has to offer.
Master aesthetician, Lyn Ross founded Institut’ DERMed Spa, one of the most respected names in the skin care industry, in 1989. The Institut’ DERMed Spa is a 3,000-square-foot facility located in Atlanta, Georgia with 11 treatment rooms offering the latest clinical aesthetic technologies to assure quality solutions that provide the ultimate relaxation and results for skin health and beauty. Ross was an originator of the cosmeceutical product and treatment concept Institut’ DERMed Clinical Skin Care, which is now widely dispensed in prestigious spas, medical spas, and physicians’ offices. She founded the Institut’ DERMed College of Advanced Aesthetics in 1995 after years of providing client support for the medical community to teach aestheticians, nurses, and physicians the specialized skin care and makeup techniques she developed working side by side with doctors to help clients recover after surgery.