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Get to know your skin - The ABC of the skin

The skin is one of the body's most important organs, in addition to serving as our ultimate defense against the sun, bad bacteria and dangerous substances, it functions as a kind of window to the outside world and tells a lot about who we are. With a surface area of ​​approximately two square meters, it is also our largest organ, but despite this, most of us know relatively little about how the skin works. We know that fatty fish is good for the brain, that olive oil is good for the heart and that calcium gives strong bones, but the skin, how do we take care of it?


The skin consists of three layers which in turn consist of several layers. These layers house trillions of cells, bacteria, hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands and blood vessels. The skin also has the relatively newly discovered microbiome, our own good skin flora that plays a big role in our skin health.

Layer 1: Epidermis - the upper skin

Mission: Protects us from attack and dehydration and forms pigment

Our protective barrier to the outside world, the epidermis, is very thin with the exception of a few places, namely the soles of our feet and the palms of our hands. The epidermis is covered by a thin film consisting of water and fats that keeps the skin supple and acts as a protective barrier against bad bacteria. In the epidermis, pigments are also formed that protect the skin's cells against the sun, and this is where we have a large part of the skin's immune system, which is activated if we are exposed to attacks, from cosmetics that we cannot tolerate to the sun.

Layer 2: Dermis - the skin

Assignment: Responsible for the firmness of the skin

In contrast to the thin epidermis, the dermis is considerably thicker. In addition to giving the skin stability, this layer helps regulate our body temperature, supplies the skin with oxygen and nutrients and supports our immune system. The dermis is made up of collagen and elastin, which provide strength and flexibility. UVA light can penetrate the dermis and affect the ability to produce collagen and elastin, which is one of the reasons why the sun can affect the appearance of wrinkles.

Layer 3 Hypodermis – the under skin

Mission: Keeping us warm

The hypodermis is our natural fat depot and shock absorber, which we also call our subcutaneous fat. This is our deepest layer of skin which provides us with insulation against the cold and our absolute thickest, although the thickness differs from different parts of the body. It is also in this layer that we find the cellulite, they are found to a greater extent in women and estrogen is assumed to be a reason for this.

The knowledge of how the skin is structured and its composition is the basis for much of today's skin care. The ingredients and active substances used have different functions and affect the skin layers in different ways. But how much can skin care help us to a healthier skin? Our genes determine 25 percent of how our skin looks and is therefore not something we can influence. But since 75 percent depends on factors that we ourselves control, there is a lot we can do ourselves! The main things we can do to affect our skin are connected to:

  • Our lifestyle
  • What skin care we use

Lifestyle factors such as exposure to the sun, the diet we eat, stress and the environment have a big impact on how our skin feels and looks, but also what we have in the bathroom cabinet at home. Of course, there are hereditary factors behind skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, melasma, vitiligo and acne, but lifestyle factors are most important when it comes to our normal skin status and how our skin ages.

Based on this knowledge, it is clear that there is a lot we can do to make our skin feel better. And, healthy skin often looks better.

Understand your skin type

A good start is to think about your skin type – is your skin normal, sensitive, dry, oily or a combination of these?

Test what suits your skin best and take advantage of our skin care tips:

Normal skin

If you have normal skin, you experience that the skin feels elastic and soft and you have no obvious problems with dry or oily areas on the face. An important factor is that the skin cannot be felt, i.e. you have no sensation of it (the skin does not sting, itch or tighten).

Tip: If you have normal skin, you also don't have any specific problems but may want to moisturize your skin, especially here in the Nordics because of our dry and cold climate. Our skin is exposed to both sun, low humidity (especially in winter), exhaust gases and temperature changes, which contribute to dehydration and thus an increased need for moisture binders in the skin. Products that contain ingredients such as glycerin, salts, sugars, the building block for hyaluronic acid - N-acetyl glucosamine or urea/urea are effective at binding moisture in the skin, which leads to active hydration.

Our skin flora also contributes naturally to moisture-binding substances in the skin - therefore do not disturb it with overuse of skin care or cleansing (it does not want to be disturbed and will thank you for the help!). All external influences also lead to the formation of free radicals which, among other things, affect the aging of the skin. Free radicals are something that antioxidants are good at breaking down, invest in a product that contains antioxidants, such as vitamin C and/or minerals such as manganese. Also look for packages with airless pump systems that reduce contact with oxygen and thus reduce the risk of degradation of the antioxidants. Normal skin can feel good from the application of calcium, which contributes to increased cell renewal in the epidermis.

Sensitive Skin

Many people who feel that they have sensitive skin describe it as itching, burning or stinging and that you can have strong reactions when the skin comes into contact with cosmetics, skin creams, soap and even sunlight. If you have sensitive skin, you probably feel a deterioration during the winter when we have a cold and dry climate.

Tip: First of all, it is important that you investigate what could be the reason why you have sensitive skin, here you may need to seek the help of a dermatologist. For you with sensitive skin, it is almost more important to know what to avoid than what to add to the skin. Our skin is unique and reacts individually and differently to what it is exposed to. However, there are groups of substances that you can look out for, although many can tolerate them, there are reports that some substances cause sensitivity or irritation in the skin more often than others. Substances to avoid if you have sensitive skin are alcohol, propylene glycol, essential oils, perfume and certain preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone, phenoxyethanol and benzoyl alcohol as well as ethylhexyl glycerin. A new research report also shows that propylene glycol is the substance that remains the longest on the skin, for several weeks after application (Bouslimani et al., 2019). Also, be careful with the cleansing of your skin – it is enough to use a cleansing product in the evening and only rinse with lukewarm water in the morning.

A sensitive skin can also benefit from certain anti-inflammatory substances to reduce irritation and redness - examples of these substances are: Allantoin, Panthenol, Bisabolol, Naringenin, Acetyl Dipeptide 1 Cetyl ester.

Skin creams for sensitive and red skin (for example those affected by rosacea) also often contain green pigment to reduce the redness cosmetically.

Dry skin

You may experience that the skin may tighten, feel easily irritated and become irritated in certain places. This is because the production of certain oils and moisture binders that normally occurs in the skin does not work as it should and that the water therefore evaporates from the skin.

Tip: Moisture-binding substances are important to add if you have dry skin, also please be careful with the cleansing and use a mild cleansing cream. A skin cream for dry to normal skin will contain more moisturizing and moisture-binding substances such as glycerin, urea, various sugars, salts or amino acids. The skin also needs to be protected from water evaporation (TEWL) and then fat and oil are required which form a layer that traps the moisture in the skin.

Mineral oils such as paraffin and petroleum jelly work well to reduce water evaporation in the skin and are also kind to sensitive skin. However, these oils come from the petrochemical industry and are not biodegradable in nature, so for the environmentally conscious it may be good to opt out of these. Silicones are also emollient and are good for sensitive skin, however they are also not biodegradable. Alternatives to oils, butters and waxes that are more biodegradable and at the same time reduce TEWL are vegetable oils, squalane, jojoba esters or, for example, shea butter.

In a normal state, our skin produces both oils and fats completely on its own, such as squalene, ceramides, cholesterol, triglycerides and Omega 3/6 fatty acids. These recognize the skin and products containing these substances usually work well against dry skin.

Oily skin

Oily skin is due to some extent to overproduction of sebum (sebum), which is a mixture of the oils produced naturally in the sebaceous glands. Your skin can look oily and shiny because of this and you can get enlarged pores and sometimes blackheads or pimples as a result.

Tip: If you want to minimize oil production in your skin, there are skin care products that work well and substances that are good to add. A common misconception is that you should wash yourself a lot and use strong cleaning products, but there is no scientific evidence that this counteracts oily skin. Our recommendation is to only wash the skin in the evening. Ingredients that might be good to look for in a cleanser might be absorbent materials such as mineral clay.

Oily skin can benefit from the addition of acids, for example AHA, BHA and PHA, as these can contribute to a reduction in pores. Zinc is another ingredient that can be good for you with oily skin, and creams with retinol and niacinamide have been shown to work on oily skin. However, be careful with overuse of acids as these can thin the skin (stratum corneum) with prolonged use.

Combination skin

Combination skin is a cross between two skin types, normal to dry skin combined with oily skin. In particular, you may experience that you are shiny in the so-called T-zone between the forehead, nose and chin, while the skin on the cheeks is usually normal or dry.

Tip: This is a difficult skin type to give tips for because you often suffer from dryness but also enlarged pores. Here you can try your hand, sometimes you may need to use one product for the cheeks and another for the T-zone.