What Cell Turnover Is and How It Relates to Acne Development

Taking care of your skin is a full-time job — a job that your body takes care of in the background without you even noticing.

As your body’s largest organ, your skin requires an immeasurable amount of maintenance in order to feel, and function properly. Your body does this through a process called “skin cell turnover".

The skin cell turnover process affects everything related to your skin’s overall health. That said, beauty experts’ heads are now turning to it for it can serve as a cure for many skin conditions. Especially acne.


In this guide, we’ll explain how the skin cell turnover process works and how it is related to acne.


What is skin cell turnover?

Cell turnover is the process of forming new cells replacing the already existent ones. Its main goal is to help you get rid of harmful things affecting the skin, from UV lights to dust, wounds, bacteria, or air impurities.

Through it, cell travels up from inside the body to the skin surface, from the deepest layer of the skin until it reaches the uppermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. Once the cell reaches this layer, it is rough, dry, flaky — what we consider a "dead" skin cell shed through pores.

Usually, this process takes 28 days for adults. Yet it depends on different factors, such as age, skin color& type, and hormonal change. Babies and young children have a faster cell turnover rate because they're growing quickly. That explains why little kids have such bright, soft, luminous-looking skin.


 How It Relates to Acne Development?

Cell turnover isn't as efficient in people with acne/ acne-prone skin. 

Acne-prone skin produces more dead skin cells than healthy skins, and these cells aren't properly shed. As a result, skin cell turnover becomes slower as skin pores accumulate dead cells build up five times as pores. This condition is called retention hyperkeratosis, it happens when the skin produces more dead cells than the pores can shed.

As a result, dead cells remain stuck on the skin's surface and within the follicle, creating a clog. This cellular debris and excess oil mix up and form a blackhead or, if bacteria invade, acne.


How Speeding up Cell Turnover Improves Acne?

Skin experts have found out that skin cell turnover speeding is one of the functioning solutions to face acne, for it works on the condition from its roots.

How? by preventing skin cell buildup from the very beginning.

Because of the inability of acne-prone skin to naturally shed dead skin cells, and outside means of exfoliation is necessary to help the process along by speeding cell turnover so that dead cells never build up, clogging the pores.

How to speed your skin cell turnover?

By intervening in the process itself, whether by external methods to get your skin exfoliated or by active ingredients to kill bacteria and prevent dead cell build up.


Because acne-prone skin is unable to shed dead cells, you may need outside intervention to get your skin exfoliation. Regular use of an exfoliant can inhibit the formation of blackheads and blemishes by keeping the follicles free of blockages.

However, it’s not advisable to get peeling more than 3 times a week, for it will strip your skin from its natural oils, inducing inflammations and corrosion of the outermost layer of the skin (the acid mantle).

This on the long term will induce:

  • Acne
  • Wrinkles
  • Redness
  • Slow cell turnover


2_ retinol

In addition to being anti-inflammatory, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, which prevents the formation of acne by stimulating the pores to expel the dead cells that makes them clog, speeding up the skin cell turnover cycle.

This is why retinol is considered one of the most effective ingredients in the treatment of acne, as it prevents its formation in the first place.

3_ alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid)

Glycolic acid is an exfoliant and dead cells expectorant.

Because it is formed of tiny molecules it has a great role in speeding up the process of cell turnover. for it has the ability to penetrate the skin surface, going into the deeper layers and breaking dead cell bonds, and dissolving them so the pores expel them faster. Consider it as giving your skin a shortcut for clear, acne-free skin.

4_ beta-hydroxy acids

Beta Hydroxy Acids are chemical exfoliators that are fat-soluble; they perform in oily skin by penetrating clogged pores.

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid known to dissolve sebum accumulated inside the pores and speeding up the process of shedding dead cells. In addition, it kills Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that cause acne.


5_ niacinamide

Unlike alpha and beta hydroxy acids, niacinamide is a derivative of vitamin B with neutral pH. As a result, it has a much gentler effect on the skin.

In addition to being anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial & its role in decreasing excess sebum production; Niacinamide has an effective role in speeding up the process of cell turnover process, by accelerating decomposition of dead cells and regulating collagen production.


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