We just marked the summer solstice yesterday, June 21, 2009. The longest day of the year. Can you believe it, already?! Here in northern, rural, coastal Maine, it is daylight at 4:00am . . . the birds sing to herald the morning, the wild turkeys run through my slowly growing garden - wreaking havoc on my seedlings as they gobble with delight amongst themselves! - the local red fox, sitting atop the massive granite boulder in my back yard, decries with his eerie voice, that he's caught yet another rabbit and all is well in his fat belly, and the tree frogs give up a throaty trill. Early morning is full of life. The sun sets nigh 9:00pm, with a trace of orange in the sky remaining at 9:30 - if the night is clear. Amazing place . . . northern Maine!
Well . . . that has nothing to do with skin or its functions, I realize, but I just had to tell you about my surroundings that I am blessed to be able to inhabit. I might add, that living in a beautiful, peaceful setting, with minimal stress (most of the time), can do wonders for your skin's health, though. Think about how you look and feel after a long weekend spent hiking or camping, or attending a yoga retreat, or strolling the beach searching for rocks or seashells - doesn't your skin just exude a healthy glow? Something to think about . . . minimizing stress.
In the last blog, I discussed the structures that are contained in one mere square inch of skin. This weeek, I'm going to tell you about the skin's functions. Think of your skin as a beautiful, satin robe that you wear night and day. It presents your external beauty and health to the world and at the same time protects your inner being. The skin, or integumentary system, is an actual living system, that also comprises the hair and nails, various glands, and several specialized receptors. As a complex structure, it performs nine essential jobs for the body. The skin:
- Protects us from physical, chemical, biological, thermal, and electrical damage.
- Helps the body maintain a steady temperature.
- Acts as a moisture regulator, preventing excessive entry and evaporation of water.
- Prevents excessive loss of minerals.
- Converts ultraviolet rays into vitamin D3, part of the vitamin D complex that helps us maintain strong bones by enhancing absorption of calcium and other minerals.
- Serves as a highly sensitive sensory organ, responding to heat, cold, pain, pleasure, and pressure.
- Metabolizes and stores fat.
- Secretes sebum, an oily lubricating substance.
- Assists in processes of excretion of salts, urea, water, and toxins via sweating.
Pretty amazing, your skin. Remember to treat it as the important bodily organ that it is. Give it daily care and it will reward you with a lifetime of beauty and comfort.
NOTE: Portions of this blog were adapated from the book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2007. The information provided is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. The author, disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.