Skin cell turnover is when new skin cells are produced to replace existing skin cells. This biological process also slows down and become less efficient as we age.
Your skin requires a good amount of maintenance to look, feel and function properly. Your body does that through a process called “skin cell turnover” or “skin cell rejuvenation”.
Skin cell turnover affects everything from your skin’s overall health to conditions like acne, wrinkles, visible ageing and age spots.
The cell turnover process takes place in the epidermal layer of the skin. The epidermis is the top layer of our skin and consists of 4 layers: Stratum Corneum, Stratum Granulosum, Stratum Spinosum and Stratum Basale. These four layers provide a tough defence against external factors. Layers of the epidermis continuously renew throughout life. A healthy cell turnover rate would be 30 days. However, after the age of 50 it drastically decreases.
Why is epidermal turnover important?
The Stratum Corneum creates an effective shield and barrier. As this layer is predominantly oil based, water is locked into the skin and remains hydrated. So it helps the skin to prevent dehydration that can lead to skin sensitivity and even breakouts and fine lines and wrinkles.
When skin is youthful it exfoliates relatively evenly. This allows the skin surface to continuously to be renewed and a person’s complexion is therefore even, smooth, and radiant. In an ageing skin, cell turnover might be quicker or slower in some areas. In some areas of the skin, you will start noticing dehydration, and dry and flaky patches. This is also one of the reasons age spots are more noticeable in an ageing skin
A healthy Stratum Corneum provides a barrier and Ph balanced acid mantle. This will defend the skin against irritants and allergens sensitizing the skin and causing inflammation. However, if such ingredients can penetrate the epidermis the skin’s immune function is activated and inflammation begins. This inflammation will cause sensitivity and ageing.
Factors that affect epidermal turnover
Skin cell turnover is affected by a variety of factors:
Your diet – Food is the foundation of our lives, and diet is the main way for the body to obtain the required substances for growth and maintenance. Drink enough water to keep the skin and body hydrated. Zinc, Iron, and iodine are closely related to skin immunity and inflammation. Vitamins are important antioxidants. And healthy protein maintains normal tissue renewal and repair.
Hormones – Estrogen stimulates collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid production to keep the skin firm and plump. Progesterone stimulates the production of sebum or oil in the skin. Testosterones activate the sebaceous glands. During a woman’s menstrual cycle all 3 levels are low. As a result, the skin will look drier and dull. During Pregnancy your levels of estrogen and progesterone are higher and may cause pigmentation or melasma. During menopause your estrogen levels decrease, so does your production of collagen.
Sleep patterns – While you sleep at night your body is hard at work getting rid of toxins, eliminating depleted skin cells, and creating new cells. Circadian rhythms at night stimulate cell regeneration and accelerate skin cell turnover.
Stress levels – Recent clinical observations also link psychological stress to the onset or aggravation of multiple skin diseases. Stress can play a role in the skin’s inflammation responses, barrier function and wound healing.
Amount of sun exposure – UVB rays penetrate the epidermis and although they are shorter in length than UVA rays, they are considered more powerful. UVB light can lead to cell mutations which can result in cancerous growths.
Skincare products – You can also take matters into your own hands to increase the rate of cell turnover. Chemical and physical exfoliation offers a gentle way to remove dead skin cells fasters.
Skin Cell Turnover in Ageing Skin
Normally it takes the skin an estimated 40 to 56 days for your epidermis to complete the turnover, but the timeline only lengthens as we age.
It will take our bodies longer to replace old cells with new cells. This will have several effects on the appearance of the skin. Because dead skin cells can linger for longer on the skin it will increase the risk of wrinkles sagging and visible signs of ageing. The slower the removal of dead skin cells the easier it is for bacteria to accumulate on the surface layer of the skin, resulting in visible blemishes.
Skin Cell Turnover in Acne Skin
The skin’s cell turnover rate can also affect your risk of developing acne. Acne develops when a combination of dead skin and sebum (oil) collects inside the follicles. The follicle can clog and cause acne to develop.
Whiteheads and blackheads form because of dead skin and sebum build-up. White heads are the result of closed pores becoming blocked with sebum and dead skin. While blackheads are caused by surface-level blockage that’s exposed to air and sunlight. Bacteria can become trapped inside the follicle, resulting in an infection that can lead to inflamed or cystic acne.
Ways to Increase your Skin’s Cell Turnover Rate at Home
Physical Exfoliation – Physical Exfoliation involves using a granular scrub to remove dead skin cells. This is the use of natural fine crystals on the skin in a circular motion to remove dead skin build-up. This will increase blood circulation and nutrition to the skin. It will improve skin texture and tone. This is a great option for ageing skin to add into their routine 3 times a week.
Chemical Exfoliation – People with very sensitive skin might find it better to use a chemical exfoliation. The term “chemical’ might sound dangerous but it’s the contrary. Chemical exfoliators are usually very gentle. Their stronger or milder effect depends on the active ingredient percentage.
Lactic acid would be our first choice for more sensitive and dryer skin types.
Glycolic on the other hand is much stronger and help to improve clogged pores and congestion. Salicylic acid would be great for your oilier and acne-prone skin types.
“Face Forward. Never look back. Extract your mistakes. Exfoliate your past and wash thoroughly with luke warm water.”
Skin Deep Sa