#285 Your skin

Pop quiz, hotshot.

What are your body’s five largest organs?

No peeking, no peeking, we’ll reveal the big list later. But for now let’s just say skin is top dog and deserves six big props for six big reasons:

1. It’s our body’s giftwrap. No offense, but you wouldn’t look great with your organs hanging out. Blood vessels and big bones, slippery organs and kidney stones, seriously — it’s much better with skin holding everything into a tightly wrapped package. Plus, let’s not even think about the smell.

2. Bouncers in dark glasses make for no dirty trespasses. Your skin has three layers — the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. The epidermis is on top and it’s part of your body’s security system — acting like a night club bouncer and sending low-class bacteria and viruses down the street. Now, this is a pretty tough job so new skin cell bouncers are always forming below. You can’t see it but your body loses 30 – 40,000 skin cells every minute of the day. This amounts to nine pounds of dead skin falling off your body each year.

3. World’s fastest note passing. Sure, we live in crazy days with text messages bouncing to the other side of the world in seconds. But those texts have nothing on the speedy skills of your dermis which contains nerve endings that speed dial your brain whenever you touch something. Garden soil, Grandma Hair, it don’t matter — speedy messages ping pong till you know what’s going on.

4. Waterproof or bust. Your dermis is also home to your oil glands which squeeze out their slippery namesake oil to keep your skin lubricated and waterproof. Don’t worry if you forget the rubber boots and raincoats because no puddle’s gonna sog you down.

5. A/C and a built-in fireplace. Your epidermis is also full of sweat glands which act like a thermostat in your body. If you get hot running around your body sends warm blood closer to the surface to cool off — causing the classic Red Face Effect. Also, your skin will release more sweat which evaporates and cools you down. Don’t worry — when you’re cold your skin does the opposite and pushes blood cells down to create goosebumps. These tiny bumps pull your hair up and create little warm air pockets and also produce more oil to coat your skin and keep the heat in. So how about that?

6. Safety shocks. Okay, there’s a reason that third layer of skin is called subcutaneous fat. Yes, it’s full of fat that helps your body stay warm and absorb shocks. Better to have a bruise on your thigh than a broken bone. I say there’s nothing wrong with some junk in that trunk.

People, skin is the largest organ in our bodies and unlike those brown, slippery things stuffed underneath your rib cage, it actually has to look good doing the job. It’s bigger than the next four — your liver, large intestine, small intestine, and brain — and covers you from top to bottom to get everything done, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Thanks for being there, skin.

We hereby declare you


The Book of Awesome is now out in The Netherlands! Check out the cover below.

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

71 thoughts on “#285 Your skin

  1. I hate seeing people, who have no respect for their skin (& how awesome it is for us) what so ever & get massively sun burnt!

    Not only are you running the risk of skin cancer, but you look like a TOMATO!

    1. Seriously! I live in Florida and all summer long (plus the other 5 months when it feels like summer), you can find some silly tourist that is so red, they are painful to look at. Makes me want to slap them so I can leave a temporary handprint on their skin…another awesome effect:)

  2. I missed out on commenting on this in yesterday’s post, but a big round of applause for this site getting to 30 million hits, amirite???

    Totally ridiculous! Congrats on all the success!

    And hooray for all those dutch people who can now start reading your book! :)

    1. Thirty million is practically an unfathomable amount of people. I mean, for the population of a country — sure, I get that — but for people who all read the same blog?! That’s AMAZING! Yes indeed, congrats! :)

    2. Wowee! I remember being all excited about that first million. :)
      I was hoping to get a chance to peruse the airport bookstores in The Netherlands for Neil’s book during our layover coming back from March Break trip to Italy, but our first flight was delayed 2 hours, and we had to sprint through the airport to make our connecting flight home. Bummer!

  3. Why are they racist? Because they both are of ‘white’ skin? Maybe if they were both ‘black’ a white person would be offended. Ever think maybe those pics just were the first ones on google when he typed ‘goosebumps’ ?!?!? Duh close minded person!

  4. see……thats why its necessary to keep ur skin healthy by SAYIN NO TO TATTOOS! believ it or not they are harmful!

    1. It really is! I adore it, and it’s so appropriate for the spirit of the book. I wish it were higher resolution so I could make it my desktop picture at work. :)

  5. Nine pounds each year, whoa! That blew me away; no wonder I am constantly dusting this house! :) :)

    Great post, Neil!!

  6. A few months ago I taught my 5 year old daughter the joke, “I can see your epidermis!” when the person you’re saying to doesn’t know what it means. She thought it was so funny she had to try it out on my youngest brother who was 13 at the time. He didn’t know what it was and he kept looking all over himself thinking something was showing that wasn’t suppose to be. My daughter was cracking up, but she finally told him.
    She’s been trying it out on other people, but none has been as funny as her uncle.

      1. For Zach’s 6 week photo shoot, we stripped him down to just his diaper so he’s showing a bunch of skin. And yes, his pics are pretty awesome, I put 2 up on my blog today.

  7. Skin is so unbelievably amazing! Glad it got its very own day … it’s been attending the School of Hard Knocks for way too long and it deserves a little recognition.

    I LOVE that book cover! Even if the only things on it that I can read are your name and the news sources. :) Congratulations!

    1. Re: the book cover news sources.. don’t you think it’s funny that of all the media that has reported on this blog (i.e., CNN, the BBC, NPR, The New Yorker, etc.) “Fox News” made the cut for the cover? I wouldn’t have thought that Fox News was a trusted source of information content for the Dutch.. :)

      My dad is dutch.. he’s nutty.. therefore my assumption is that all dutch people are nutty based on my sample size of 1.. that’s statistically significant, right guys??

      1. I’m writing a journal article based on a sample size of 9…so yeah I think you’ve got a large enough sample size to make that assumption ;)

    2. I am from the Netherlands and I love the book cover as well! I’m doubting if I should buy the original English version or the Dutch one with the awesome cover. For those interested a loose translation of the Dutch on the cover:

      So funny you will laugh out loud. WIRED.com
      Neil Pasricha
      Happiness can be found in a small corner (this is an old Dutch saying)
      Life is hectic. Be sure to enjoy the beautiful things, because: Happiness can be found in a small book (the dutch word for book is ‘boek’ and for small book is ‘boekje’; the word for corner is ‘hoek’. So they played with the words a bit )
      A simple, but brilliant idea. fox news
      Sometimes it is good to remind yourself of the fun small things can bring you. the guardian

    1. I once was on safari in Tanzania, and our guide was telling us about the very high rates of AIDS in Africa, and some of the societal reasons as to why..

      Let’s just say: I recall him using the term “skin on skin” a lot in this conversation…

      It was quite bizarre, let me tell you.. I spent most of this conversation trying to change the topic to: “Hey.. look over there! A Zebra!!”

      1. …awkwaaaaaaaaaard… Did he think you didn’t know how AIDS is contracted? (And there you go, bringing up STD’s again!)

          1. Hey, hey hey!!

            Didn’t we just clear me of all these vicious STD claims like, 5 posts ago??

            No need to start up the rumor mill again fo quickly! :)

              1. I wish this site allowed you to “like” comments as facebook does so I could “like” your comment, jdurley!

              2. I wish this site allowed you to “like” comments as facebook does so I could “like” your comment, jdurley!

                And this site just got angry at me for that comment. I had to resubmit it because I got an error message that read “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” LOL.

  8. All of the above…AWESOME!
    AND it’s SO good to know, it’s not all the Christmas cheer and birthday cakes so far this year saddling my heiness and mid-drift; not my crown of thick course gramma hair, or a dinasour egg size kidney stone I’m packing… I WAS beginning to worry, but woory no more, I just need to have a good 9 pound, spring skin shedding and I’ll be fit for summer!
    Thanks Neil and oh yes, CONGRATULATIONS<:)

  9. ps. unedited because, it’s early here then YOU think, later for some, somewhere in between for others… I personally think you have earned the right to appeal to your “broad casters”, (for lack of this lingo), to post a world time zone clock in Awesome Land… does anyone Agree?


    Not entirely sure but I think I read in my textbook that the skin isn’t the largest organ. It’s the heaviest, though. Don’t hate me D:

  11. And does it ever feel great being comfortable, “Bridget Jones’ Diary” style… “Just as you are,” in your own skin!

  12. Skin would be more awesome if it couldn’t get cut by a piece of paper… Paper cuts are definitely NOT awesome.

  13. i feel completely out of the loop. I just watched the TED talk and decided to come to his website, since i’ve never been before, i started searching for the first awesome thing Neil posted. I just realized, he’s not at number 1 yet….I’m super excited since now i can follow along with the rest of you guys. I just want to say that the TED talk was really inspiring, it meant a lot to me, and even made me emotional since it was exactly what I needed. My awesome thing of the day: accidentally finding what I need without searching for it. I wonder how often this happens?

      1. Exactly how it happened for me…a really great stumble, Jan.1st, 2011
        I think there should be a wrist band in the name of Neil Pasricha, “STAY AWESOME”

  14. I love it! well said…being an Aesthetican specializing in Anti-Aging i totally concur and love the ease and humour you express the same knowledge! Awesome…yep your post was my awesome for the day lol! :)

  15. This is so ironic- I stopped to visit this blog as a means of procrastinating beginning my human biology notes – on the integumentary system…. ie SKIN!!! =D That first picture came straight from my study guide!
    Thanks for the uplifting post, I’ll start my revising with a different perspective and a smile on my face :)

  16. I love the cover of the Dutch version! It’s so colorful :) I am still doubting if I should order the dutch one or the English version!

    1. Green too I guess.

      Both of my daughters (5,2) are watching Shrek 2, and they are loving it.

  17. Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your site unintentionally, and I am stunned why this coincidence did not took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

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