Human grooming by Daniel Laberge
Human grooming homepage Daniel Laberge homepage

Folded skin theory
Folded skin is similar
to pinched skin,
but from inside of you.

A fold is a groove in your skin, an inward indentation.
You can imagine folding a piece of paper, but what happens when you do the same to living tissue?
To picture this, let's first put together graphically what we've seen in the previous chapter;

Epidermis and dermis

Skin layers and components

A longer span of unfolded skin would look like this;

Epidermis and dermis longer span

Unfolded skin

What would folded skin
look like?

Now, let's fold it;

Folded epidermis and dermis

Folded skin

As you can see, both sides of the fold become walls, facing each other.
They are held together by a filling composed mostly of hardened epidermis cells.

Trapped skin

Part of the skin becomes engulfed into the fold.
Some hair follicles and sweat glands, that normally expulse their content at the surface, now see their exits blocked.
Most of their vital functions, hair, sebum and sweat production, are halted.
It is like if time was suspended for them.
Hair stops growing and doesn't even whiten.

Complete folds and
surface folds

The fold illustrated above is a complete fold because the whole skin, epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, is entirely bent over.
Complete folds are formed early in the life of an individual, when the skin is still supple and thin.
When you become an adult, most of these deep folds are already in place.
Your skin is now so thick and tight that it couldn't be folded entirely anymore.
After that, only surface folds can develop.
Those shallow and small grooves only bend the top of the skin.
They proliferate by creating lines between your existing fold crossings.

How long is a fold?

Folds have a tendency to go for as long as they can.
For this reason, most large ones circle completely around your body.

Circular articulation folds

The skin of many parts of your body is tubular;
fingers, arms, legs, neck, trunk, ...
All these tubes are vertical.
Some sections along them cover articulations.
These articulations work only one way and do not permit flexing in the opposite direction.
This means your skin tubes are always bending on the same side.

Compressed and stretched folds

This situation creates two types of folds;

Compressed and stretched folds

Articulations only bend on one side,
producing two kinds of folds.

•Compressed folds tend to be few in number, but deep.
The skin really gets folded tightly.
•Stretched folds are small and numerous, but they ain't as deep.

Folded finger and arm  
Arrow Arrow

You will find stretched and compressed folds
at every articulation on your body

Both types meet on the sides of the skin tubes, creating circular horizontal folds.


If a fold meets an obstacle on its path, such as a bone beneath the skin or simply another fold, a hot spot is created.
The epidermis formed at the point where the fold and the obstacle meet will slowly link and attach them together.
This phenomenon greatly reduces the skin’s mobility causing an anchoring effect.

Fold angle

Many folds aren't perpendicular to the skin’s surface.
Their path is angled because one side receives more pressure.
In some cases, the walls of the fold become almost parallel to the skin’s surface.

Fold angle below surface

Slanted folds


Fold pathology;
Cellulite, Stretch marks
and Varicose veins


• Cellulite


When the folds create unevenness

Cellulite is characterized by visible patterns of bumps and lines on the skin.
Of course, those lines are caused by deep folds.
Cellulite is only one of the consequences of a lack of grooming.


• Stretch marks


The stretching opens the folds

Stretch marks are simply folds that are pulled open by an enlargement of part of the body usually due to puberty, pregnancy, muscle building, ...
Normally, the folds are kept closed by the epidermis formed within each one to protect the skin against tearing.
When a sudden growth happens, the stretching pulls on the skin and opens some folds.
Since part of their protective hardness is removed, they feel soft.

They follow parallel fold patterns

Stretch marks, also called «Striae», are known as parallel grooves in the skin.
This parallelism and their generally vertical orientation only validate the fact that they are folds.

Cautions while grooming

The retaining structure of the folds has been weakened by the stretching.
Yet, parts of their foundations are still standing.
Since the skin is fragilized along the marks, start by grooming all around them for some time.
After that period, gently groom the folds (marks) until they disappear.


• Varicose veins


Blood flow obstructed by folds

Folds hamper blood circulation.
When blood vessels get near a fold, they get flattened and crushed.
Their passages become constricted so the blood can't flow normally.
The veins enlarge because the blood can't go forward anymore.
Their visibility augments.
Blood vessels have to swerve around the folds to continue their course.


Fold evolution

Folds have phases in their evolution;
•At first, they are not etched into the skin and only appear when a movement creates them.
•Then, they slowly solidify, deepen, harden and tighten to become permanent.

First folding

Let's try to imagine how unfolded skin reacts to a folding movement.
Please picture a theoretical virgin wrist.

Birth of a fold
Baby's wrist at rest
•When the wrist is at rest, there is no fold.
Baby's wrist when flexing begins
•When flexing begins,
the fold starts out very short and shallow.
Baby's wrist as the flexing accentuates
•As the flexing accentuates,
the fold lengthens and deepens.
Baby's wrist at rest
•This ideal skin would bounce back to its unfolded state as soon as the wrist is straitened.

Damage done by repeated folding

If your skin was to be folded only occasionally, of course no damage would occur.
But think of how often you wink, swallow, talk or eat and you’ll understand that folding represents a real challenge for your skin.
You know the impact folding has on objects.
You probably fold some things repeatedly to separate or divide them.

Separable containers

Fold repeatedly to break apart

How damaging the process is depends on;
•The rigidity and elasticity of the folded material,
•How long you do it,
•At what speed,
•What vigor is applied,

Repeated folding creates heat

When the skin is folded repeatedly, heat builds-up on the floor of the fold.
The structural integrity of the material is put to test and some is mutilated in the process.
Luckily, skin is unbelievably flexible and elastic.
It can be folded thousands of times without damage.
However, when things get real hot, your skin has to protect itself.
The heat build-up triggers specific epidermis formation into action.

Specific epidermis formation
inside a fold

We have seen how epidermis coats are formed  in the previous chapters.

Coating the fold’s floor

While the repeated folding is occurring, the excess heat is concentrated all along the path of the fold, on its floor.
In reaction, the skin will pave the bottom of the fold’s route with a fresh coat of epidermis to prevent any tearing.

Epidermis formation

A new coat of epidermis inside a fold

Over time, specific epidermis formation will come into action several times on the same fold.

Coats and cyclic activities

You do things, then you stop doing them.
You may do some once a day, on week-ends only, once a month, ...
In some occasions, you may perform these activities with much more intensity, speed, stamina and stress or for a longer time.

Folds growing inward

Since the fold is a groove, it deepens into your skin as new coats are added.

Epidermis coats inside a fold

Epidermis coats inside a fold

Each time epidermis formation paves the fold, it strengthens and hardens it.
Each new coat finds a new, evolved situation.
Conditions have changed slightly.
Each point in the fold experiences changing pressures, and these affect the shape of its growth.
This results in a different epidermis structure for each new coat.
As their number increases, unfolded skin at the top is pulled down, and the whole edifice deepens into the flesh.

Permanent folds with irregularities

You can easily discern many folds on your body because they are kept open by those epidermis coats.
Their path becomes very complex.
It gets twisted and may roll over itself partly or completely.

Coats and grooming

When you groom a fold, it unfolds coat by coat.
You can feel each coat yielding beneath your nail.


Left arrow Previous   Next Right arrow