WHAT’S YOUR FUNCTION, DERMAL EPIDERMAL JUNCTION?
An important structure called the dermal epidermal junction (DEJ) is found at the junction between the dermis and epidermis. Often referred to as “nature’s Velcro,” the health and appearance of your skin will be determined by the condition of your DEJ.
The layers of the epidermis continuously move upwards and throw their “contents” overboard, flattening, building up at the surface and eventually sloughing off to make room for cells behind them. This process is the “keratinization” of the skin. It is an essential part of skin renewal and healing. It would not be possible without the DEJ maintaining the relationship between the two main layers of skin, allowing for healthy communication from the top all the way to the bottom.
The DEJ is also responsible for the exchange of nutrients back and forth from the epidermis to the dermis. These nutrients are carried in the blood from foods we eat and supplements that we take. They are also absorbed through the pores when we apply topicals. Vitamins, antioxidants, acids and other nutrients are necessary for DNA repair, new cell production, protection from outside elements and oxidative stress and more. In our youth, the DEJ is a healthy, wavy terrain.
The DEJ interlocks the dermis to the epidermis by way of fingerlike projections called rete ridges. The waviness of the junction along the rete ridges increases the surface area available for the epidermis to receive nutrients from the dermis. The epidermis contains no blood vessels—it relies solely on the DEJ in order to receive nutrients.
Without nutrient exchange, skin would suffer premature aging and damage. As we age or stress our skin, the DEJ tends to flatten out. If the DEJ becomes completely flattened, the communication and nutrient exchange come to a halt. The DEJ’s wavy characteristic is what determines the levels of crepiness you’ll experience as you age.
In order to maintain healthy youthful skin, you need to keep the communication open and the DEJ’s rete waves as wavy as possible. How? Proper diet and topical skin supplementation. Avoid over-exfoliation, over exposure to harsh elements and other forms of stress or trauma.
Using powerful anti-aging topicals, like antioxidants, retinoids, or peptides, is important, but the condition of the DEJ will determine the quantity of nutrients that actually reach the dermis. Maintaining a healthy relationship between the dermis and epidermis, by way of the DEJ, is key to maintaining youthful skin throughout your life.