Our skin can be divided into three distinct layers: the epidermis, the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. Each one has a particular structure and function, but all are subject to oxidative stress. Free radicals produced by environmental toxins such as UV radiation or as a result of normal cellular activity can damage tissue if not kept in check by our body's own supply of antioxidants, such as co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

MitoQ® is a revolutionary form of the antioxidant CoQ10 that is available as a supplement or a cream. It targets mitochondria, one of the main sources of free radicals, helping to reduce oxidative stress. This helps to renew and rejuvenate your skin cells across your entire body, leaving your skin looking supple, hydrated and energized.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body. It covers a surface area of 1.5-2 square meters in adults and makes up 16% of our body weight (about 11kg in a 70kg person). It varies in thickness depending on location, with the skin on our eyelids a mere 0.3mm thick compared with several millimeters lining the soles of our feet.

Our skin does far more than just protect our internal body parts from the outside world. It is responsible for excreting metabolic waste in the form of sweat and sebum. It contains numerous receptors and sensors that detect pain, temperature and pressure. Reactions occur inside our skin that convert sunlight into vitamin D and stimulate pigment cells to change color in response to exposure to the sun.

But one of the most fascinating functions of the skin is its ability to heal itself without any conscious input from us whatsoever. Try inventing something like that!

The epidermis has a complex structure and contains immune cells which recognize small molecules penetrating the skin and an abundance of keratin, a protein that strengthens the skin and helps keep it moist. Dead keratin cells lie on the outermost surface like a border. These dead cells absorb water easily and start to swell after extended periods in water - which explains why the skin on our hands and feet “prune-up” after swimming or bathing. However, living keratin cells deeper within the epidermis do not absorb water, which makes our body watertight.

Although not technically a layer, the basement membrane sits between the epidermis and dermis and is semi-permeable, which means it allows the passage of some molecules but not others. It is composed of a complicated assembly of proteins and regulates many important processes such as skin development, wound healing, and cancer progression.

The dermis is made up of mainly collagen, elastin, and a blobby gel-like material called ground substance. Blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to both the dermis and epidermis. Lymph vessels and nerve fibres criss-cross through the dermis. Hair follicles sit within the dermal layer next to sebaceous, sweat and scent glands.

The final, deepest layer is subcutaneous tissue. Made up of fat cells and connective tissue it provides energy, absorbs shock and keeps us warm.

Our skin is vulnerable to oxidative stress. Environmental free radicals spawned from UV radiation or pollution attack skin tissue, changing its appearance and structure.

Free radicals also arise as a by-product of normal cellular activity that occurs in organelles such as mitochondria within our skin cells. In healthy people, free radicals are usually kept in check by our body’s own supply of antioxidants, such as CoQ10. However, if our levels of natural antioxidants become depleted for dietary, disease, age or other reasons, free radicals are left to damage surrounding tissue, putting our body in a state of oxidative stress.

Taking an antioxidant supplement or applying antioxidant-containing cream to the skin such as MitoQ® can help reduce skin-related oxidative stress. MitoQ® is a specially formulated type of CoQ10 that accumulates within mitochondria, one of the major sites of free radical production.

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Hashmi S, Marinkovich MP .Molecular organization of the basement membrane zone. Clin Dermatol. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21679867

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Smith R, Murphy M. Animal and human studies with the mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoQ. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2010;1201:96-103

Structure of the dermis and subcutis. Dermnet NZ. http://www.dermnet.org.nz/doctors/principles/dermis.html#bmb

Structure of the epidermis. Dermnet NZ. http://www.dermnet.org.nz/doctors/principles/epidermis.html

Trouba KJ, Hamadeh HK, Amin RP, Germolec DR. Oxidative stress and its role in skin disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2002 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12230879

Why does my skin get wrinkly in water? Discovery health. http://health.howstuffworks.com/skincare/information/anatomy/skin-wrinkly-in-water.htm