What is the Importance of Knowing the Functions of the Skin?

Three women with health skin smiling

Are you interested in becoming an esthetician but not sure why functions of the skin are so important? This is because our body’s largest organ is the skin. It serves more than one function and is essential for shielding the body from trauma, regulating the body’s temperature, synthesizing vitamin D, and providing the proper balance between electrolytes and water. Your client’s skin also senses stimuli that generate painful or pleasurable responses in their body. If this is all new to you, don’t worry, you will learn the function of the skin during an esthetician program at your local cosmetology school.

Skin and Its Function

The body’s skin also serves the function of keeping necessary nutrients and chemicals in the body while providing a shield so that certain toxic substances can’t enter the body. Without skin, our bodies would have no protection from the ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun. The texture, folds, and color of the skin also help establish individuality in the world. Any substances or conditions that interfere with the body’s skin function can lead to a change in appearance or have serious consequences on a person’s mental and physical well-being.

Many issues that are evident on the skin are only limited to the skin’s surface. However, the skin can show symptoms that indicate a problem that is present within the body. As an esthetician, you will have to consider several possible conditions when assessing your client’s skin.

The Skin’s Layers

Now that you know the function of the skin, it is time to get technical. The three layers of the skin are the epidermis, dermis, and the subcutaneous layer. Every layer performs a different role. Under the surface of the skin, we find the nerves and nerve endings, hair follicles, glands, and blood vessels.

The epidermis is the skin’s tough, thin outer layer. The majority of the cells in the epidermis are keratinocytes which originate from cells in the basal layer, or the deepest level of the epidermis. The new keratinocytes slowly move up toward the epidermis surface where they shed and are replaced with new skin cells.

The stratum corneum is the outer portion of the epidermis and is naturally waterproof. When the stratum corneum is undamaged, it serves as a barrier against viruses, bacteria, and toxic substances. The epidermis, along with the skin’s other layers, shield the nerves, muscles, and blood vessels from damage. For other parts of the body that require extra protection, such as the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, the stratum corneum is especially thick.

Melanocytes are spread through the basal layer. These cells produce melanin which is the pigment that contributes to a person’s skin color. However, the main function of melanin is to filter UV radiation from the sun which can damage human DNA and lead to health conditions such as skin cancer.

Conditions That an Esthetician Will Assess

There are many things that you will be looking for when assessing a client’s skin. Does the client suffer from the effects of aging skin, sun damage, wrinkles, discoloration, acne or other skin disorders that may be serious enough to be seen by a dermatologist?

The Effects of Aging Skin

Nearly everyone wants to find ways to keep their skin from aging. Not only is this a desire that is often rooted in vanity, but there are also health benefits associated with keeping the skin as youthful as possible.

Aging is often evident in the dermis and epidermis. The underlying layer of fat can be lost as a person ages, which leads to hollow or sagging skin. Aging can lead to a loss of volume and elasticity and the skin naturally becomes dryer with age, making it easier for wrinkles to form. Some people also begin to lose sensation since there are less nerve endings in the skin as the body ages.

With age, the number of blood vessels and sweat glands a person has decreases, which means they may not always respond to heat exposure immediately. This may seem like a good thing, but if a person builds up a tolerance for staying outdoors for long periods of time without protecting the skin, the chances of skin cancer are higher. The body doesn’t produce as many melanocytes as a person gets older which means there is less protection against ultraviolet radiation. These significant changes make it easier to determine skin issues.

Sun Damage

Sun damage is accountable for most of the skin issues people undergo as they age. If your client is exposed to free radicals and UV rays without protection for years or even months at a time, there is a greater chance that they will experience fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, red or brown spots, and rough texture. The easiest way to reduce the effects of the sun is to wear suntan lotion, cover up with clothes or wear a hat.


Wrinkles are a product of age and are usually unavoidable. However, as an esthetician, you can help your clients reduce the signs of aging on their skin by treating wrinkles, circles around the eyes and discolorations. Why does our skin wrinkle? As we age our skin cells divide slower and slower. This causes the dermis to thin. The function of the dermis is to offer elastin and collagen fibers to support our skin. As we age, the dermis loses its primary function, and the result is wrinkles. To prevent wrinkles, have your clients protect their skin from the sun. They can also moisturize their face, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, and eat food rich in vitamins.


Sunspots, age spots, sunburns, and rashes can cause discoloration of the skin. Depending on the symptoms, it is important to identify the cause of the discoloration and take the steps to reduce the damage.


Acne is common in teenagers and occurs when a hair follicle becomes plugged with oil, bacteria and dead skin cells. There are many creams and cleansers that can help. However, as an esthetician, you can advise your clients on a proper skincare regimen to treat these bumps.

Skin Disorders

Some of the skin disorders that you will see on your client’s skin include eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, ichthyosis, vitiligo and hives. Minor skin disorders can be treated by an esthetician, however if you find that the client has pain, puss or another issue with their skin disorder, it is important for them to see a dermatologist.

Final Thoughts

To ensure a client’s complexion and all the skin on their body remains intact, remind them to moisturize daily. The moisturizer should contain antioxidants such as vitamins E and C to even tone and protect against free radicals. They should drink plenty of water as well since moisture improves elasticity and can flush toxins from the body which can prevent fine lines.

When you know how the skin functions, you’ll be better able to care for your client’s skin and prevent or lower the risk of certain conditions. Healthy skin is not only a sign of overall health, but it can also give your client the confidence they need to look and feel their best.

Are you ready to help clients take advantage of the skin’s functions? If so, you could begin your career as an esthetician at the Minnesota School of Cosmetology (MSC).  Our Esthiology Diploma Program has been developed by talented, caring, real-world professionals, many of whom still work in the field.  We give our esthiology students experience in skincare, waxing, make-up, application of facials, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming an esthetician and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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