What is the Science Behind Skin Care?

Woman's face with a blurred background with lines on her face representing science of skin care.

While some believe that estheticians and cosmetologists are the same, they are very different lines of work. Cosmetologists are trained in a variety of hair, nail, and epidermal treatments, whereas estheticians focus primarily on epidermal care and treating skin issues with effective treatments and skin care science. Estheticians focus on helping their clients retain a youthful, healthy glow, and may recommend various treatment options for their client’s individual skincare concerns. Because this field primarily deals with the epidermis and involves a variety of specialized and advanced treatments, proper training and enrollment in a high-quality esthetician program is necessary to deliver safe and effective service to clients.

Skin Science: Anatomy & Physiology

As a student of an Esthiology program, you will receive thorough and comprehensive training in the science of skin care, with an enhanced emphasis on the anatomy and physiology of the epidermis.

You will learn that the condition of a person’s epidermis is often dependent on a variety of factors. An imbalance of hormones (the endocrine system) can cause several epidermal issues, including breakouts, excessive oil, dry patches, itchiness, and even some discoloration. An imbalance of hormones can also cause excessive and unwanted facial hair growth. An improperly functioning circulatory system can also cause epidermal issues such as broken or over dilated blood vessels can cause bothersome redness and capillaries to become inflamed.

You will also learn how the digestive system can play a significant role in the quality of a person’s skin. A person’s diet can heavily impact the condition of their epidermis. A person who typically ingests over processed food and doesn’t hydrate enough will likely have problematic issues. It’s important for you to become an esthetician that is mindful of the connection between epidermal condition and physiology, so you are more knowledgeable about the appropriate treatments to consider when meeting with a client.

The Three Layers of the Skin

It is often said that the skin is a person’s first line of defense. It is a vital component of the immune system, and protects a person against wind, rain, sun, and harmful bacteria. Because the epidermis is the largest organ of the body, it is important that you know how to effectively care for it, and to help clients that seek out proper treatment. There is a tremendous amount of science behind the various functions of this vital organ. There are three basic layers of the skin, with each layer serving a multitude of unique functions and purposes. Here is a short overview of the science behind the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous layer.

The Epidermis

Otherwise known as the “outer layer,” the epidermis serves several vital functions. The epidermis consists of trillions of skin cells packed as tight together as possible and is waterproof. The main purpose of the epidermis is to protect the rest of the body systems and functions from harm due to environmental elements, including pollution, wind, sun exposure, and direct trauma. Another vital function of the epidermis is that it acts as a protective barrier against harmful bacteria.

The Dermis

The dermis lies just below the epidermal layer. The primary purpose of the dermis is to facilitate the proper functioning of a variety of body systems, including perspiration, hair growth, and blood flow. Oil glands are also located in the dermis. Another major function of the dermis is to create collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are responsible for a youthful glow and appearance. The absence or reduction of these two vital proteins will cause wrinkles, crow’s feet and other imperfections usually associated with aging.

The Subcutaneous Layer

The subcutaneous layer lies deep below the epidermis and the dermis. This layer is where fat is stored and is also responsible for cushioning vital organs against blunt force trauma or other injuries. The subcutaneous layer consists of blood vessels, tissues, and nerve cells, and can also help the body regulate its temperature, especially when it’s exposed to extreme weather.

What is the Science Behind Skin Care?

Keeping a consistent, high quality skincare routine is the best way to prevent premature aging and wrinkles. Not only does a consistent skincare routine promote a more youthful appearance, but it also helps to protect against possible cancer and other harmful conditions from developing. Here are a few of the most important steps that clients should take to develop a healthy skincare routine, as well as an explanation of the science behind several different types of skincare products.


One of the most important components of a proper skincare routine is cleansing. Cleansing should occur upon waking and at night when preparing for bed. It’s important to use a product which does not strip away more moisture than necessary. You should be familiar with the best brands and types of cleansers that a client may benefit from, as well as which products to avoid, based on their skin type and desired outcome.

Applying Toner

A great toner will help restore the pH of the epidermis if there are any imbalances. Some individuals are more prone to breakouts and blemishes and may benefit from a toner which includes salicylic acid to minimize future issues. For those who experience uncomfortable tightness due to dryness, a good moisturizing toner should be applied instead.

Use a Vitamin C Serum Regularly

There are many benefits of applying a vitamin C serum on a regular basis. To keep one’s appearance looking as youthful as possible, individuals should start using vitamin C serums in their early twenties. As your clients go about their daily lives, the amount of sun exposure and other environmental pollutants can cause significant damage if not addressed early on. Vitamin C serums not only reduces skin damage due to these factors, but it can also reduce the appearance of dark spots (also known as hyperpigmentation) as one ages.

The Importance of Eye Cream

One of the first places wrinkles start to appear are around the eyes. This is due to how thin the epidermis is around the eyes. Many people seek fillers and other procedures to combat this issue. Applying eye cream correctly on a regular basis is one of the most important components of an effective skin care routine. A high-quality eye cream should list peptides, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and ceramides as their ingredients. Peptides can help reinforce collagen levels, by acting as a binder to keep collagen cells woven together, while hyaluronic acid acts as an intense moisturizer. Caffeine can help firm up and reduce puffiness in the area just below the eyes, while ceramides also promote firmness.

Use Sunscreen Every Day

Many people falsely believe that they only need to apply sunscreen on particularly sunny days. The science states however that the sun’s rays can cause substantial damage to the skin regardless of how sunny or cloudy it is, or which season of the year it is. It’s important to apply sunscreen every day, as damage will accumulate over time. One of the largest factors behind a person’s aged appearance is from sun damage. Sun damage can also cause deadly carcinomas to develop and potentially remain undetected until it’s too late. It’s important to opt for a sunscreen with an SPF factor of thirty.

What is the Connection Between Cosmetics and Skincare Products?

It is important for you to become familiar with a client’s skincare routine, as well as what products or services would benefit their individual skin-type. Just as it is important to match clients with the appropriate skincare products, it is just as important to educate clients on the science behind using high-quality cosmetic products made specifically for their skin-type.

There are some cosmetic products on the market which are beneficial for those who have a variety of skincare issues, such as excessive oil, dryness, or combination-skin. The same cosmetics which help a person, may cause many problems for someone else with a different skin-type.

For someone who has an oily skin-type, it is important to stick with powder foundations. Oil free cosmetics should be used to keep breakouts and blemishes from occurring. Cosmetic blotting sheets should also be used to combat shininess. Clients who suffer from excessive dryness should opt for creamier foundations which are rich in moisture. Those who have a combination of oily areas and dry areas should invest in both types of foundations, making sure to use creamier products in the areas where more moisture is needed, while opting for lighter textured products in oily areas.

Final Thoughts

Those who are interested in pursuing a career as an esthetician will be pleased to find that the demand for certified, skilled estheticians is predicted to grow 17 percent over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As more people discover the importance of maintaining their skin-tone and texture through effective therapeutic techniques, knowledgeable estheticians are sure to enjoy a robust and exciting career where they can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Working in the field of Esthiology is not only challenging and dynamic, but it is personally fulfilling as well.

Want to learn more about the science behind skin care? 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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