As water accounts for 60-70% of our body weight, a person weighing 110 pounds contains about 66-70 pounds of water. The skin plays an important role in holding the water content. It consists of 4 layers: the subcutaneous fat layer, the dermis about 2-3 mm in thickness, the epidermis about 0.1 mm in thickness, and the stratum corneum just 0.01 mm in thickness covering the surface.
The inner 3 layers are made up of living cells. The epidermal cells keratinize in about 2 weeks, then move upward to the surface to form the stratum corneum (top layer), and come off in scales after about another 2 weeks (turnover). A moist feel of the skin depends largely on the water content in this stratum corneum.
Amino acids are important natural moisturizing factors (NMF) in the stratum corneum. When epidermal cells die and turn into the stratum corneum, proteins in the cells are degraded to amino acids and transported to the stratum corneum. About half of the NMF in the skin is made up of amino acids and pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA) derived from glutamate, an amino acid.
Collagen, a cosmetic ingredient known to keep the skin supple, actually consists of various amino acids. Many troubles such as roughness and dark hue of the skin are largely related to lack of amino acids. There is the possibility that the stratum corneum of patients with atopic dermatitis or pollinosis (hay fever) is also deficient in amino acids compared to healthy persons. A certain case study shows that: when an amino acid-mixed ointment was used in the treatment of skin burn, the affected area did not turn keloid but returned to the normal state.
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