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Jun 26, 2005
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Duluth, GA
(SkinInc article)

Beauty - it may be only skin-deep, but a person with TRULY healthy skin is DEEPLY beautiful!

As the body ages, the skin cell renewal system decreases. Wind, air polution, heat & sunlight also damage the skin. Aging and the environment are a duo that hinder the normal preservation of healthy, beautiful skin. Showing unjmistakable signs of aging, including lines, wrinkles, sags and blotches!

Mother Nature plays a major role in keeping skin looking healthy and glowing.

Epidermal cell renewal:

A healthy epidermis undergoes a balanced remodeling about once every month. During this time, old epidermal cells are replaced imperceptibly with new ones. The process, called desquamation, targets old cells -- the flattened, dead squame cells on the surface of the skin--that are sloughed off through exfoliation.

Squame cells begin their life as metabolically active epidermal cells called Keratinocytes. As they move upward through the epidermal layers to the skin's surface, they change structurally and functionally. In their final form, these cells lose much of their internal organelles, go into senescence, then die and ultimately assume a flattened, interconnected structure, called squames.

The stratum corneium, composed of these interconnected, keratin-rich structures, is an important protective outer barrier. This is essential for maintaining healthy skin by regulating appropriate water levels within the lower regions of the epidermis. New epidermal skin cells continue to be produced at the same rate as old, dead squames of the stratum corneium are exfoliated regularly in healthy skin.

Exfoliation process:

Keratinocytes, in their various stages of maturation, are the major type of cells found in the epidermis. As they mature, they become attached firmly to similar neighboring cells through many strong, cablelike linkages called desmosomes.

Desmosomal attachments occur at desmosomal junctions, where high levels of proteins, called adherins, are responsible for holding the cells together.

Even as the keratinocytes go into senescence and become flattened, keratinized squames in the stratum corneum, these strong linkages continue to hold the dead cells together. With this being true, how can the outermost squames ever be removed by orderly exfoliation, or one squame at a time?

Break the ties:

Enzymes that catalyze, or enhance, the breakdown of a protein by disconnecting the joined amino acids that comprise the protein are called proteases. Biochemists call this disconnecting process protein hydrolysis, or proteolysis. Recently, an acid protease found in the epidermis, called cathepsin D, has been implicated as a major participant in the desquamation process. Its role is to catalyze the breakdown of the adherins at the desmosomal junctions that bind squames together. The enzyme is synthesized initially in an inactive form and is converted by other enzymes into the active form.

stay tuned for the remainder of this article.....