1
skin laid bare

It isn’t good to take for granted something as important as skin. Take a moment and imagine the following scene. You’re standing in the moist, shadowy heat of an orchard in the late afternoon of a summer’s day. You are able to stand outside in comfort without overheating, thanks to your skin’s ability to regulate your body temperature and shield you from ultraviolet radiation. Only a few beads of sweat on your brow and upper lip betray the fact that your skin is working to keep you cool. As you flick away the fly that tried to settle on your face, you don’t give a thought to the way your skin is protecting you from the microorganisms on the insect’s feet and snout.

You have your eye on a peach dangling from a branch above your head, and you want to pick it and eat it. As you reach up toward that lovely peach, you’re distracted again by the fly, and the back of your hand scrapes against the snag of an old branch. Thanks to your skin’s fairly tough surface, the scrape isn’t a problem. A welt starts to rise in a few minutes, but your skin is unbroken because its outermost layer is quite scuff-resistant. You reach up again, and the elastic properties of the skin on your arm and trunk al-

-9-

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Skin: A Natural History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Skin Laid Bare 9
  • 2 - History 21
  • 3 - Sweat 39
  • 4 - Skin and Sun 56
  • 5 - Skin’s Dark Secret 65
  • 6 - Color 76
  • 7 - Touch 97
  • 8 - Emotions, Sex, and Skin 112
  • 9 - Wear and Tear 121
  • 10 - Statements 141
  • 11 - Future Skin 164
  • Glossary 175
  • Notes 181
  • References 217
  • Index 243
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