Exploring the protective role of the skin

As the largest organ of the body, your skin has a long list of roles to fulfil to keep you functioning as you should do.

Along with unlocking a colossal amount of sensory power for your body – did you know you sense more through your skin than your eyes, nose or ears?

Here we take a closer look at the protective role of the skin from its hypodermis to its microbiome.


Also known as the subcutis or subcutaneous tissues, the hypodermis is the innermost layer that makes up the skin’s structure. But despite being the deepest of the three layers, it has a particularly protective part to play.

Whilst its thickness varies from body part to body part, the cushioning effect of the hypodermis is second to none.

The hypodermis is made from fatty tissue, essential padding that protects the bones and tissues within your body from the many dangers of the outside world. Thanks to your hypodermis, falls and bumps tend to hurt less too.


The dermis delivers a vital source of support for the skin and its structure. This middle layer contains collagen, elastin, and much of the body’s water supply, and uses these to provide additional cushioning.

But its protective abilities don’t end there. The dermis is where you’ll find the sebaceous glands, and the sebum they produce works wonders for upping protection on the surface of your skin.


The outermost layer of the skin is the epidermis. Whilst it’s not your first line of defence (this role falls to the skin microbiome and the acid mantle, but more on that later), its primary function is to form a hardy barrier between you and the outside world.

Here Healthline explains more about what the epidermis does:

“The primary function of the epidermis is to protect your body by keeping things that might be harmful out and keeping the things your body needs to function properly in.

Bacteria, viruses, and other infectious agents are kept out, helping prevent infections on your skin. Water and nutrients are kept in for the body to use.

Body parts that are more susceptible to injury, like the soles of your feet and palms of your hands, have a thicker epidermis for even better protection.”

The epidermis even contains specialist cells that protect the skin and the wider body. Melanocytes for example filter out UV radiation from the sun to help lower the risk of skin cancer and premature ageing.

Acid mantle

Your acid mantle sits on the skin’s surface, and whilst invisible to the naked eye, it has a huge protective role to fulfil.

The thin, slightly acidic film is made from sebum and amino acids, a delicate mixture that provides a surprisingly hardy barrier against bacteria, pollutants and other contaminants from the world around us.

The acidic nature of the mantle also provides the perfect conditions for the skin’s first line of defence, the microbiome.

Skin microbiome

The skin microbiome, or skin flora, is the collective name for the microorganisms that live on the surface of the skin.

This trillion-strong community of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and parasites is right at home on the acid mantle, and is the first protective barrier invading bad bacteria, irritants, and toxins will encounter.

The skin microbiome is as diverse as any ecosystem, with the balance of different species and strains enabling your body to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.

Help your skin do what it does best by choosing a skincare regime that helps – rather than inhibits, those natural, protective abilities.

Browse our collection of protective, reactive, gentle, and certified organic skincare solutions right here.