As keratinocytes progress towards the upper epidermis, they undergo a unique process of cell death termed cornification (Eckhart et al. 2013). This involves the crosslinking of keratinocyte proteins such as loricrin and involucrin by transglutaminases and the breakdown of the nucleus and other organelles by intracellular and secreted proteases (Eckhart et al. 2000, Denecker et al. 2008). This process is strictly regulated by the Ca2+ concentration gradient in the epidermis (Esholtz et al. 2014). Loricrin and involucrin are encoded in ‘Epidermal Differentiation Complex’ linked to a large number of genes encoding nonredundant components of the CE (Kypriotou et al. 2012, Niehues et al. 2016). Keratinocytes produce specialized proteins and lipids which are used to construct the cornified envelope (CE), a heavily crosslinked submembranous layer that confers rigidity to the upper epidermis, allows keratin filaments to attach to any location in the cell membrane (Kirfel et al. 2003) and acts as a water-impermeable barrier. The CE has two functional parts: covalently cross-linked proteins (10 nm thick) that comprise the backbone of the envelope and covalently linked lipids (5 nm thick) that coat the exterior (Eckert et al. 2005). Desmosomal components are crosslinked to the CE to form corneodesmosomes, which bind cornified cells together (Ishida-Yamamoto et al. 2011). Mature terminally differentiated cornified cells consist mostly of keratin filaments covalently attached to the CE embedded in lipid lamellae (Kalinin et al. 2002). The exact composition of the cornified envelope varies between epithelia (Steinert et al. 1998); the relative amino-acid composition of the proteins used may determine differential mechanical properties (Kartasova et al. 1996).