What is Epidermal Thickness & Why Does it Matter?

What is Epidermal Thickness & Why Does it Matter?

Take a second to pinch the skin on the back of your hand and notice how thin it seems. Now, flip your hand over and pinch your palm. Much thicker, right? This is a practical way to observe the differences in epidermal thickness that occur naturally across our bodies. This outermost layer of our skin naturally tends to get thinner as we get older, leading to telltale signs of aging like skin laxity and increased vulnerability to injury. Maintaining epidermal thickness throughout our lives ensures better skin health and enhanced protection from environmental pathogens. So what causes epidermal thinning in the first place? Let’s take a closer look at this universal skin phenomenon and what you can do to support epidermal thickness in your own skin.

Reference Lab

April 5, 2023

01  Why does epidermal thickness matter?

The epidermis is the thinnest of the three main skin layers. This essential outer layer plays a number of important roles including maintaining overall hydration levels, producing new skin cells, and protecting our bodies from environmental pathogens and UV radiation. As the epidermis thins, it becomes less efficient at providing these essential functions and can leave the entire body more vulnerable to injury.¹

02 How does epidermal thickness vary across skin?

The epidermis contains five layers, the outermost of which is called the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum averages about 15 layers over most of the body, but is much thinner and thicker in some areas. For example, the skin around the eyes has a stratum corneum that is just 3 layers thick while the palms and soles of the feet contain over 50 layers of stratum corneum. This variation in thickness is just one of the reasons why thinner skin on the eye-area, neck, and hands starts to show signs of aging earlier in most people. ²

03  What does epidermal thickness have to do with barrier function?

The stratum corneum, also called the skin barrier, is a layer of dry, dead skin cells that are joined together by lipids. This layer creates a water-resistant seal on the surface of the skin, which keeps the right amount of moisture locked into the skin’s vital layers while preventing excess water, pathogens, or other aggressors from entering.¹

04  How does epidermal thickness change with age?

As we get older, our epidermis begins to thin. One study found that it thins at a rate of about 5-7% per decade.³ This may be partly due to the fact that skin cell turnover – the production of new skin cells at the basal layer of the epidermis–slows as we age. With fewer new skin cells being produced at the base of the epidermis, the entire epidermal layer becomes thinner.⁵

05 What factors impact epidermal thickness?

In addition to normal skin aging, a number of other factors contribute to epidermal thinning throughout our lifetimes. Avoidable lifestyle factors like unprotected sun exposure or smoking cigarettes can increase the rate at which your skin ages, quickening the rate of epidermal thinning that your skin experiences. But there are also some unavoidable factors: a drop in estrogen after menopause can decrease epidermal thickness, as can certain medications including topical steroids.⁵

06 How does epidermal thickness impact skin’s appearance?

As the epidermis thins, the skin loses volume, leading to signs of aging like wrinkles, crepiness and skin sagging. Epidermal thinning can also make skin much more vulnerable to injury. Your skin might scratch, tear, or bruise much more easily in your later years as your epidermis continues to get thinner.⁵

07 Boost epidermal thickness with Our Topical Supplements

To prevent your epidermis from thinning prematurely, wear sunscreen and practice healthy habits. Already noticing signs of thinning? You can actually reverse them with our OS-01 Topical Supplements. OS-01 FACE is scientifically proven to promote a significant increase in the epidermal thickness of ex vivo human skin samples (Zonari, et al). By supporting epidermal thickness, OS-01 FACE is also clinically validated to improve skin’s barrier function (average improvement +15%) (Shown in a 12-week clinical study performed by a third party CRO using vapometer analysis). To address epidermal thinning from the neck down, reach for OS-01 BODY, which is also scientifically proven to promote a significant increase in the epidermal thickness of ex vivo human skin samples.

08Key Takeaways

  • The epidermis is the outermost layer of our skin. It maintains overall hydration levels, produces new skin cells, and protects against pathogens and UV radiation.
  • As we get older, the epidermis thins at a rate of 5-7% per decade.
  • As the epidermis thins, it becomes more vulnerable to injury and shows signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging.
  • In lab studies on ex vivo human skin samples, OneSkin’s OS-01 BODY and OS-01 FACE were scientifically proven to promote a significant increase in epidermal thickness, reversing this central sign of skin aging.
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