Facial Skin And Body Skin: Is There Any Difference?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Vindhya L Veerula, MD, FAAD
Written by Ramona Sinha

Ever wondered why you can’t use body soap on your face? Or even your regular liquid body wash? Why does the cosmetic industry manufacture separate products specifically for the face and body? Are they tricking you into buying more products?

Of course not!

The skin on your face is very different from the skin on the rest of your body. You need to have deep knowledge of your skin to develop a thorough skin care routine. In this article, we will discuss how your facial skin differs from the rest of your body. But before we proceed, you must be aware of the anatomy of skin.

The Anatomy Of Skin


Your skin is comprised of three layers:

  • The Epidermis: This is the topmost layer of your skin (which you can see). It acts as a protective layer and a waterproof barrier and is also responsible for your skin tone.
  • The Dermis: This layer lies just underneath the epidermis. It contains the connective tissues, the sweat glands, and the hair follicles.
  • The Hypodermis: This is a subcutaneous tissue made of connective tissues, and it mainly stores fat.

The epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis on your face are different from those on the rest of your body. Let’s find out how.

How Facial Skin Differs From Body Skin


Let’s proceed layer by layer!

1. Epidermis

The epidermis of your skin has several sublayers, including stratum basale and stratum corneum. These sublayers have different types of cells that are responsible for a variety of functions, such as the protective effects of the epidermis and your skin tone. The cells include:

  • Keratinocytes: These cells constitute about 90% of the epidermis. They continuously undergo cell division and replacement. The old cells migrate to the topmost layer of the skin and are called corneocytes.
  • Melanocytes: These cells give you your skin tone. Melanocytes produce melanin that protects your skin from the UV rays of the sun.
  • Merkel Cells: These cells help you detect the sensation of touch.
  • Langerhans: These are immune cells that specialize in antigen presentation and protect your body from infections.

These cells are not evenly distributed on your face and body. The epidermis of your face is thinner than the epidermis of your body due to uneven cell distribution. Let’s take a look:

Epidermis Of The Face Vs. Epidermis Of The Body

Skin CellsFaceBody
KeratinocytesOld cells migrate to the upper layer of skin in a week.Cell migration takes place over 2 weeks.
CorneocytesLess layers of corneocytes (about 4-8)·         Most of the body contains 11-17 layers.

·         Palms and soles contain 23-71 layers.

·         The genitals contain 4-8 layers.

Melanocytes·         Melanin levels are high.

·         Contains 15 melanocytes per square millimeter because your face is exposed more to the sun than your body.

·         Melanin levels are low (not in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as hands).

·         Contains 15 melanocytes per square millimeter.

LangerhansThe concentration of these cells is unknown.The concentration of these cells is unknown.
Merkel CellsThe concentration of these cells is unknown.The concentration of these cells is unknown, but they are found in genitals, torso, and limbs.

2. Dermis

The dermis makes your skin elastic and gives it strength as it contains elastic and fibrous tissues. Apart from that, the dermis also contains:

  • Sweat Glands: There are two types of sweat glands in the dermis – the apocrine glands (found in areas where you have more hair, such as armpits and groin) and the eccrine glands (major sweat glands responsible for producing sweat and control body temperature by evaporating).
  • Blood Vessels: These provide nutrients to the epidermis as there are no blood vessels in the epidermis.
  • Sebaceous Glands: These glands produce sebum and are usually attached to the hair follicles in your skin.
  • Hair Follicles: These help in enhancing your sensations and regulate your body temperature. Body hair is of two types – vellus hair (soft and fine hair found on infants) and terminal hair (long and coarse hair found on adults).

Dermis Of The Face Vs. Dermis Of The Body

Components of DermisFaceBody
Sweat Glands·         Apocrine glands – very few

·         Eccrine glands – Approximately 320 per sq. cm on the cheeks and 360 per sq. cm on the forehead.

·         Apocrine glands – found in the areola, armpits, and perineum (the area between your genitals and anus).

·         Eccrine glands – 620 per sq. cm on the soles, 300 per sq. cm on palms, 65 per sq. cm on the back, and 120 per sq. cm on the thighs.

Blood VesselsMore blood vesselsFewer blood vessels
Sebaceous Glands·         Abundant on the scalp and face (about 900 glands per sq. cm)

·         Smaller.

·         Found all over the body, except for the soles, palms, and some parts of the genitals.

·         The sebaceous glands on your back are large.

Hair Follicles·         Before puberty,

both men and women have vellus hair.

·         During puberty,

women retain their vellus hair, while it turns to terminal hair in men.

·         Before puberty, vellus hair is found all over the body. Women retain it on their chest and back.

·         During puberty, vellus hair is replaced by terminal hair. Men get terminal hair on the legs, arms, chest, and abdomen.

3. Hypodermis

The hypodermis is the innermost layer of your skin and a storehouse of the fat cells that protect your body from heat and cold. It also contains adipose tissue (a type of fatty tissue) that your body uses when it faces a caloric deficit.

Hypodermis Of The Face Vs. Hypodermis Of The Body

Generally, in females, the hypodermis is the thickest in areas such as buttocks, thighs, and hips. In males, it is the thickest in the thighs and the abdomen. However, when it comes to the face, both men and women have thick hypodermis deposits in their cheeks.

If you touch the skin on your face, scalp, armpits, hands, and feet, you can feel the difference. That is the reason each body part demands specific skin care products and a thorough skin care routine.

The skin on your face

  • is always exposed and takes on environmental stress, pollution, and the UV rays. Hence, it is sensitive and ages faster than the rest of your body.
  • is susceptible to blemishes, hyperpigmentation, and related skin issues. Compared to the skin on the rest of the body, it needs specific skin care products to address all these issues and promote cell regeneration.
  • is delicate, especially the area around your eyes, which is why it needs special attention and gentle care.

The skin on your scalp

  • is rich in blood vessels and contains more sebaceous glands than any other part of your body. This is because the sebaceous glands are attached to the hair follicles, and your scalp has the maximum concentration of hair.
  • The excess sebaceous glands and the thick hair make your scalp prone to skin issues if you do not take care of it. Just like your face, it also needs gentle care to nourish the hair roots and promote healthy hair.

The skin on your armpits

  • is extremely sensitive as it always rubs against each other and does not get much light or air.
  • is exposed to skin treatments, such as waxing and shaving, and the chemicals contained in deodorants and antiperspirants.
  • is dark, moist, and produces odor due to the metabolization of bacteria.
  • needs extra care. You should exfoliate it regularly and keep it clean. Also, ditch deodorants with harsh chemicals and switch to natural deodorants.

The skin on your hands

  • works really hard. Your palms and fingers are hard and usually lack a natural moisturizing factor. That’s why you need to moisturize them regularly.
  • is thin and cannot bind moisture properly, making it prone to dehydration.
  • is regularly exposed to solvents, surfactants, and chemicals that strip away moisture and make it dry. Therefore, you need to exfoliate it regularly. Use mild products that do not cause moisture loss and maintain the pH level of the skin.

The skin on your feet

  • has extra padding and rougher and harder skin compared to the rest of the body. It is mostly exposed to excessive pressure and friction, making it prone to calluses.
  • may develop corns because of uncomfortable and tight shoes.
  • is susceptible to fungal infections (due to dry and cracked skin). Use softening creams and wash your feet with effective cleansers. Also, don’t forget to get rid of the dead skin cells using a foot buffer.

The skin on your face and your body have their own needs. It is wrong to assume that a product that works on one area will be equally effective on other areas. The products meant for your body are not going to work for your face! Facial skin is much thinner than your body skin, and that’s why it needs a gentler skin care routine compared to the rest of the body.

Do you have any more questions about facial and body skin? Don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you.

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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.