The secret life of your face
The secret life of your face
by ANGELA EPSTEIN
Our face is the most unique example of our individuality. Yet it is also the most revealing aspect of what affects us both physically and emotionally.
Its changing expressions demonstrate exactly how we feel, whether the general condition of its skin and features often reflects our wellbeing and lifestyle.
All of which contribute to our overall look. So what health mysteries does your face reveal? Here, we take you on a fascinating journey into the secret life of your face…
The function of the eyebrows is to help create shade from sunlight, and prevent perspiration dripping from the hairline and forehead into the eyes. However, the short hairs that comprise our eyebrows help to give shape, definition and expression to the face.
Many women keep their eyebrows well-shaped because they reduce the shadow cast over the eye, giving an illusion of lightening the whole face.
Skin has three layers: the epidermis (surface layer), dermis (middle) and subcutis (bottom). The epidermis is 0.15mm thick and made up of four to five layers of tiny cells.
The two outer layers comprise dead, flattened cells held together by waterproofing fatty acids, oils, peptides and ceramids – giving us a barrier against the elements. The next three layers are where skin cells are manufactured. It is also where melanin – the pigment which determines colouring and protects against UV rays – is made.
These cells move up towards the skin’s surface, creating a tough protein known as keratin, before drying out and flaking away. This process slows with age. Teenage skin renews itself every two weeks, by our late 20s it takes 28 days and by our 50s it can take two months.
The dermis is 100 times thicker than the epidermis and made of two proteins – collagen for firmness and elasticin for elasticity. The dermis is also home to the oil-secreting sebaceous glands.
Beneath the dermis lies subcutaneous fat, which acts as an insulator and smooth the skin’s contours.
Facial skin traits can be down to genetics, lifestyle and general wellbeing. The outer level of healthy skin is about ten per cent water and there is little difference between the water levels of oily and dry skin. Oily or over-stressed skin is usually the result of over-active sebaceous glands, which produce excessive oil.
This can be caused by hormonal imbalance, poor diet, too many stimulants such as coffee, or using harsh, oil-stripping products.
Dry skin is deficient in the fatty lipids that help seal skin against moisture loss. As a result moisture evaporates too readily from the cells into the atmosphere. Dry skin is more common from the mid-30s because the sebaceous glands produce less oil.
Lack of moisture in the skin causes the surface cells to shrivel, creating fine lines. Cold weather also depletes the skin’s moisture reserves. For every 7 degrees the temperature drops below 20C, the amount of water lost to the air doubles.
There are two types of pores: the first lie at the duct of the perspiration glands; the second are known as follicles, and excrete sebum, the oily substance that coats the hair shaft and the skin’s surface.
During puberty, sebum production increases and pores can clog. This traps bacteria, resulting in spots. If natural bacteria then flourish they can break down enough sebum into toxic material for white blood cells to be summoned, leading to inflammation.
Many adult women suffer from late-onset acne due to hormone problems caused by the Pill, stress, the menopause or ovarian cysts.
Freckles are clusters of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. These in turn produce melanin, a chemical that helps protect the skin from sun damage by reflecting and absorbing ultraviolet light.
Freckles are often hereditary and common in those who are light-skinned or fair-haired because there is less melanin within their skin. Moles are spots on the skin formed by clumps of coagulated melanin. Most people have ten to 15 moles, which are flesh coloured initially, and then darken over time.
How your face creases is determined by genes and facial habits. So those who laugh a lot develop ‘crow’s feet’. When young the dermis is elastic enough to snap back into place and the subcutis layer immediately smooths out.
But as we age, both lose their spring-back capacity. At the same time, skin becomes less able to retain moisture. From 40 onwards lines form and skin loses up to 30% of its collagen during the first 5 years of being post menopausal. Gravity takes its toll by creating jowls and drooping eyelids. Using ‘state of the art’ moisturisers, such as Phytomone ‘Pause Hydra Creme’, which includes the latest advances in skin care technology, will help improve cell communication and boost natural collagen supply, as well as strengthening the skins protective barrier to hold in moisture, helping you to delay the effects hormone imbalance has on your skin.
Rapid weight loss can cause wrinkles because fat cells help smooth out lines.
Blushing is an automatic response to emotional or sensitive situations. The amount we blush depends on the sensitivity of the autonomic system in the brain. This in turn controls a network of blood vessels with smooth muscle fibres in the skin which respond to emotional influences.
In our normal state these muscles are partially contracted – when fully contracted the vessels close down so that less blood passes through the skin, making it appear pale. However, when something makes us blush these muscles widen, reddening the face.
These are ‘broken’ or dilated veins which appear as fine red traces on the cheeks or near the nose. There is no one cause, but women are more likely to get them and genes and skin type play a part, too.
Another cause is sun damage, which weakens the skin structure through which blood capillaries pass. This means the dermis layer can no longer hold firm the walls of the blood vessels which pass through it and they collapse, causing the broken veins to appear