Exfoliation vs. Cell Turnover: Let’s Break Down The Distinction


“With out getting too difficult, consider exfoliation as actively eradicating the highest lifeless layer of pores and skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Flora Kim, M.D., FAAD. “Whereas cell turnover pertains to a pores and skin cell’s life or maturation journey from beginning to loss of life, because the cell strikes additional up and up till desquamation.” Primarily: Exfoliating sheds the lifeless pores and skin cells, however the turnover replaces them with ones which can be youthful and extra spry.

That is why exfoliants have a tendency to offer extra of a direct glow, as they’re dissolving the floor layer of extra lifeless pores and skin proper then and there. Whereas components that promote cell turnover (like retinoids) optimize the pores and skin cell life cycle and push contemporary, child cells as much as the highest—when this occurs, these outdated cells do ultimately slough off, however it does take a bit extra time. And since cells are slower to respond to wound healing as you age, accelerating cell turnover can provide your pores and skin the enhance it wants to assist lower hyperpigmentation and fantastic strains, in addition to stimulate collagen manufacturing.

Though, it is best to know that exfoliation and cell turnover aren’t mutually unique: Many exfoliants (like AHAs and BHAs) concurrently encourage cell turnover along with sloughing off lifeless pores and skin cells; and, consequently, cell turnover does result in lifeless pores and skin shedding as youthful cells are pushed as much as the floor. Nevertheless, some exfoliants could dissolve lifeless pores and skin cells on the prime, however they do not precisely promote cell turnover for dwelling cells beneath—so the nuance is essential to notice.

Take enzymes, for instance: “Enzymes are nice for delicate pores and skin since they work to interrupt down the proteins present in lifeless pores and skin cells however don’t trigger any mobile loss of life or turnover like acids do,” double-board licensed surgeon and scientific director for Rory Melynda Barnes, M.D., advised us about enzymes versus acids.

In different phrases, cell turnover can result in exfoliation, however exfoliation does not at all times imply you are encouraging new pores and skin cells as much as the highest.