What is Epidermal Thickness & Why Does it Matter?

2 min read

April 05,2022
SKIN SCIENCE

What is Epidermal Thickness & Why Does it Matter?

2 min read

April 05,2022
SKIN SCIENCE
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.
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
07

Boost Epidermal Thickness with OneSkin

To prevent your epidermis from thinning prematurely, wear sunscreen (ideally mineral SPF 30+ like OS-01 SHIELD and OS-01 BODY SPF, coming soon!), and practice healthy habits. Already noticing signs of thinning? You can actually reverse them with the OS-01 peptide, scientifically proven to increase skin's epidermal thickness and clinically validated to improve skin's barrier function. [6, 7, 8] OneSkin's line of topical products are powered by the OS-01 peptide. In fact, like the OS-01 peptide, OS-01 FACE is scientifically proven to promote a significant increase in the epidermal thickness and clinically validated to boost skin's barrier function. [6, 7, 8] 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. [8] And for the ultra-delicate skin around your eyes, OS-01 EYE is super-charged by the highest concentration of the OS-01 peptide and clinically validated to boost skin's barrier function by an average of +17% in 12 weeks. [8]
07

Boost Epidermal Thickness with OneSkin

To prevent your epidermis from thinning prematurely, wear sunscreen (ideally mineral SPF 30+ like OS-01 SHIELD and OS-01 BODY SPF, coming soon!), and practice healthy habits. Already noticing signs of thinning? You can actually reverse them with the OS-01 peptide, scientifically proven to increase skin's epidermal thickness and clinically validated to improve skin's barrier function. [6, 7, 8] OneSkin's line of topical products are powered by the OS-01 peptide. In fact, like the OS-01 peptide, OS-01 FACE is scientifically proven to promote a significant increase in the epidermal thickness and clinically validated to boost skin's barrier function. [6, 7, 8] 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. [8] And for the ultra-delicate skin around your eyes, OS-01 EYE is super-charged by the highest concentration of the OS-01 peptide and clinically validated to boost skin's barrier function by an average of +17% in 12 weeks. [8]
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]
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]
Key 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 and clincial studies, OneSkin’s OS-01 BODY, OS-01 FACE, and OS-01 EYE were scientifically proven to promote a significant increase in epidermal thickness and/or boost barrier function, reversing this central sign of skin aging.
Key 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 and clincial studies, OneSkin’s OS-01 BODY, OS-01 FACE, and OS-01 EYE were scientifically proven to promote a significant increase in epidermal thickness and/or boost barrier function, reversing this central sign of skin aging.

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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