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Stratum Corneum

Hydrating the Stratum Corneum With Ceremides

September 24, 2010


The very thin stratum corneum (SC), 10–30 µm or 1/10 the thickness of a piece of paper, is the skin’s outer and most exposed layer, and the permeability barrier between the internal milieu and hostile environmental assault. Because it is exposed externally, the skin provides protection and acts as a barrier to the outside environment in order to maintain internal homeostasis. Although the SC has many functions, its main ability is to serve as a protective barrier that prevents excess fluid and electrolyte loss, allowing life to exist in a fragile terrestrial environment.


A wall of protection

The SC accounts for up to 75% of the epidermis, making it a virtual wall of protein protection for the cellular and inner-cellular inhabitants. “Stratum Corneum Defense Functions: An Integrated View,” written by Peter M. Elias, MD, states, “The permeability barrier is mediated by the organization of the extra cellular lipids of the SC into a series of parallel membrane structures, and its distinctive composition.”

This fascinating upper layer of the epidermis is composed of fibrous protein-enriched corneocytes and an essential lipid-enriched intercellular matrix. During corneocyte formation, the plasma membrane of viable cells is replaced by a ceramide monolayer, covalently bound to the underlying cornified envelope. This lipid envelope functions as a template for accumulating extra cellular lipid layers.

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The Fundamental Role of the Statum Corneum

Not Dated


The world of professional skin care provides aestheticians numerous tools to assist in the management of photo aging, acne, pigmentation, dry skin, and other epidermal challenges to improve the quality and preserve the integrity of this very complicated immune organ. The cleanser, serums, creams, peels, microdermabrasion, LED, ultrasound, etc., directly impacts the complex and central world of the Stratum Corneum (SC).

How well do you really understand the intricate work of the SC? After all, this is the layer of skin all states in the U.S. use as the measuring stick for our scope of practice licensing.

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