**By special guest, Eniko Nehez, Naturopath, skin specialist and founder of ENIKŌ.**
The stratum corneum, or SC as we’ll refer to from here on in, is the outermost layer of the skin.
Previously, this layer was considered to be a lifeless membrane that merely provided some mechanical protection from the outside world and prevented water loss from within.
Over the last half a century or so, studies have emerged showing that in addition to the previous simplistic assessment of this layer, the SC has biological properties and functions that directly and substantially contribute to, not just skin health, but health in general. The main champion of this research was Professor Albert Kligman who’s work was furthered by Dr. Peter Elias.
The following stratum corneum functions are worth noting as they have a considerable impact on skin health and appearance:
Permeability – A healthy SC will allow for effective absorption and excretion. Absorption via the skin, although vital, can be a pro and a con. It can be extremely useful when applying quality products that can improve or maintain the SC, deeper skin layers, or health in general. However, it also allows for the absorption of harmful environmental chemicals, so be mindful of your environment, and what you apply to your skin.
Antimicrobial – A healthy SC will aid in protecting against bacteria and viruses. It does this via the acid mantle, being a slightly acidic layer (pH ranging from 4.5 to 6.2) of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol. If the SC’s homeostasis is compromised, so is this defensive barrier allowing microbes to invade.
Antioxidant – The SC regulates the production of antioxidants, in particular vitamin D, which protects against free radicals brought on by photo-oxidative stress, arguably the largest contributor to the signs of aging.
Psychosensory – The SC provides feedback to the brain of its immediate surroundings. In order for the right messages to be transmitted, and the body to react appropriately, the SC must be healthy and working effectively.
Hydration – The SC doesn’t just provide a mechanical barrier to water loss. It is in fact permeable and regulates transepidermal water loss via the same layer that provides microbial protection. The hydrophobic properties of this ‘lipid layer’ can allow or prevent water loss, keeping the lower layers of the skin appropriately hydrated leaving skin moist and plump.
Initiates inflammation – The SC can activate cytokines as a function of the immune system. Again, this can be a pro or a con. A proper functioning SC will trigger the immune system and cause inflammation as a defense mechanism when it senses a threat. However, a compromised SC can trigger inflammation at inappropriate times leading to troublesome skin conditions.
Due to its diverse functions, the SC has attracted the attention of a number of scientific disciplines including molecular biologists, anatomists, physiologists, pharmacologists, geneticists and psychologists to name a few. This, in itself, vindicates the complex and vital role the SC plays in how the body functions, which is why ENIKŌ products focus on repairing and maintaining a healthy SC.
Eniko migrated to Australia from a small Hungarian village in the Carpathian mountain ranges and began a career in skin therapy. Following a Bachelor of Health Science and almost two decades of study, clinical research and Naturopathy Consultation focusing on herbal medicine, Eniko combined her passions and founded ENIKŌ Skincare.
ENIKŌ's Glow Lipid Formula Mask - which is as amazing as it sounds - featured in our Winter 'Breathe' Retreat. To shop with ENIKŌ, visit eniko.com.au and use discount code RETREATYOURSELF for 15% off your first order until 31/10/23, or purchase the Glow Lipid Formula Mask from the Retreat Yourself store here.