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Is the outside of our skin really dead?
Technically, yes, at least for most of the outermost layer of the skin. However, this outermost layer of the skin, the Epidermis, is the first line of defense against dehydration, bacterial invasion, and irritant penetration. You can think of the epidermis as the outside wall of a fort. It is this layer that we take care of when we practice a skin care program.
The cells in the epidermis go through many biochemical changes, and there are many functions of this layer even though most of it is technically dead.
There are three types of active cells in the epidermis: the basal cells, the melanocytes, and the Langerhans cells.
The melanocytes are the pigment-producing cells that are found in both the lower epidermis and the dermis. Melanocytes give skin its color and are responsible for tanning.
The Langerhans cells are immune function cells that ‘patrol’ the epidermis to detect foreign invaders or pathogens.
The basal cells, are the cells that make new skin cells in the epidermis. They divide in a biological process called mitotic division, forming new, identical cells. These fresh cells are pushed upward due to the mitotic divisions and “begin their journey toward the outside surface of the skin. Once on the surface those cells shed.