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The Secret to Amazing Skin is Cellular Turnover


If you want to have the best skin possible, you need to manage cellular turnover. But what is that and how can you control it?

What is cellular turnover?

Cellular turnover is the process of shedding dead skin cells and replacing them with new ones. It’s a cycle and happens more often when you are young and less often as you age.  

  • Babies shed and replace every three to five days.

  • People in their twenties do it every two to three weeks.

  • Those in their fifties go through a full cellular turnover cycle every two to three months.

Your skin is made up of three basic layers.

  1. Epidermis: The outside layer

  2. Dermis: The middle layer

  3. Subdermis: The lowest layer

New skin cells are manufactured in the subdermis. The new cells push up and over time they get to the epidermis. The very surface layer of the skin is the stratum corneum. The cells that make up this layer are dry and flaky (basically dead at this point). As new layers change to old, dead layers, the cells are shed. This process is called desquamation.  

The skin all over your body goes through this same process.

The dead skin falls off your body and becomes dust. If you’ve always assumed dust is dirt, you’re wrong. It’s made up of some dirt, but mostly the dead skin cells of you and anyone who lives in or comes into your home. We shed roughly 500 million skin cells per day. That is motivation to dust your furniture more often!

The effects of cellular turnover

Everyone loves how soft and plump a baby’s skin is. That’s because their bodies are quickly and constantly producing new skin cells. Babies grow fast, so their skin needs to keep growing with them, but once we are fully grown, the process slows.

When cellular turnover slows down, our skin accumulates dead skin cells and we lose the fresh and bright look we had as kids. Our skin becomes more dull for the simple reason that it holds on to the dead cells. This contributes to acne, dull skin, wrinkles, and large pores.  

What causes acne?  

Because dead skin is dry and flaky and acne is generally associated with oily skin, you probably didn’t know that slow cellular turnover contributes to this skin condition.  

People with acne prone skin tend to produce more dead skin cells. The cells aren’t shed, so the pores get clogged. This causes excess oil, or sebum. And breakouts occur. Blackheads are a combination of dead skin and sebum trapped in a pore. An inflamed pimple is those things plus bacteria.  

What causes dull skin?

Uneven skin tone is also affected by cellular turnover. When those dead cells build up, it creates a dull layer on the surface. Light reflects off of dry skin differently than it does with plump, supple skin. This causes your complexion to look uneven and dull.

Dead skin cells contribute to wrinkles.

A lot of factors contribute to the appearance of wrinkles. The slowing of your cellular turnover cycles is a big factor because the buildup of dead skin cells makes those lines appear deeper and more pronounced.  

Pores appear larger.

As we age, our pores can appear larger. One of the reasons is due to cellular turnover. When that cycle slows down, the accumulation of dead skin cells causes them to get trapped in our pores and stretches them out.  

How can I increase cellular turnover?

Good skincare habits using good products can increase cellular turnover. The most effective way is through exfoliation. You can do this using physical products such as scrubs, or chemical products. 

Physical exfoliation

Physical exfoliation is when you scrub away the top layers of cells using a mildly abrasive product or a device.  

At-Home Exfoliation Products

These can be an exfoliating cleanser, a separate scrub, or a mask. They have a grainy texture and can contain sugar, salt, charcoal, coffee grounds and other abrasive and generally natural ingredients. Microplastics were once used in these products, but they were banned in 2015.

Using a manual exfoliant at home is a great way to start the process of cellular turnover. Your skin looks fresh almost instantly.  


Dermabrasion is a manual exfoliation process that is usually done under the supervision of a doctor as anesthetic is commonly used. It involves using a tool that rotates rapidly to slough off dead skin and more. It is successful for removing acne scars, dull skin, and even some fine lines and wrinkles. 


Microdermabrasion is a similar concept to dermabrasion, but is less invasive. You can purchase a low grade microdermabrasion tool for home use although many estheticians have in-office machines that are more effective. Because microdermabrasion is less aggressive, it’s also less effective and less expensive.

Laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing sounds like space age technology, but it’s really just another form of exfoliation. It is an in-office procedure where concentrated beams of light are directed at your skin to break up the dead skin cells. This also makes the body produce collagen and encourages new cells to form.  

There are two types of laser resurfacing procedures: ablative and non-ablative.

  • Ablative: Destroys the top layer of skin and heats the next layer. This triggers new cell growth and results can last up to five years.

  • Non-ablative: This procedure works to heat the lower layers of skin without disturbing the surface. This causes new cells to grow. It takes longer to see the results as the top layer of skin remains intact. 

Chemical exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation gives your skin more dramatic results than just using an abrasive scrub. A chemical exfoliant works itself into the skin and breaks down the bonds holding the dead cells to the surface. There are two common types of chemical exfoliants that you can find in many skincare products:

  1. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).

  2. Retinoids

AHAs and BHAs for Exfoliation

AHAs and BHAs are powerful chemical exfoliants that are available over the counter and in many skincare formulations. They are found in a lot of foods such as fruit and milk, and also in plants like sugar cane and willow bark. AHAs and BHAs both have many varieties, and they have different molecular sizes which have different effects on the skin. Certain ones treat specific conditions.    

AHAs are more commonly used for dryer skin because they increase hydration as they break bonds and slough dead skin away. When the dead skin is gone, the layer underneath is moisturized and appears healthier. Glycolic acid is a well known AHA.

Beta hydroxy acids or BHAs are more commonly used with oily acne prone skin. They work on the lower layers of the skin to control sebum production and unclog pores. Salicylic acid is a popular BHA.

Retinoids for exfoliation

A lot of people think retinoids and retinol are the same thing, but they aren’t. Retinoids are a derivative of Vitamin A. Retinol is a common form of retinoid.  

Retinol is available over the counter as a standalone or an ingredient in anti-aging skincare products. They are a weaker type of retinoid. You can also get retinol that is compounded with other ingredients in skin care products. They are commonly listed as: retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, and propionic acid. 

There is a stronger, prescription-only retinoid that is called retinoic acid. Retinol and retinol compounds do convert to retinoic acid inside of the body, but it isn’t an easy process and the result is more subtle for that reason.  

Like AHAs and BHAs, retinoids break down bonds on the surface of the skin, which forces the dead cells to break away. They also work in the middle layer, or the dermis, to promote growth of elastin and collagen, as well as to attack free radicals.  

Chemical Exfoliation and the Sun

With any chemical exfoliant, you need to be aware that by actively breaking down those dead skin cells, your skin will become more sensitive to harmful UVA and UVB rays. All of the hard work and money you spend could be completely undone.

The best way to use these products is to apply them at night before bed. And of course, always wear sunscreen. It’s been to wear an SPF 30 or more during the day. You should be doing this to protect your skin and overall health, whether you are using exfoliants or not.  

New Cell Production

Exfoliation is the first step in cellular turnover, but can you somehow encourage your body to start growing new skin cells? Retinoids can help stimulate cell growth, as can laser resurfacing.  The rate at which your skin grows new cells is called proliferation.  

What’s the best way to speed up the process of proliferation? Nutrition and good skincare.  Eating a balanced diet consisting of a good variety of vitamins and minerals goes a long way when it comes to treating your body from the cellular level. Quality skincare products is crucial, and using a skincare regimen designed for your specific needs is even better.

Qyral formulates your skincare routine, based on your answers to the personal assessment on our website. We use cutting edge ingredients in all of our products, including BioPlacenta that has been proven to increase proliferation.

The skincare secret is out

Cellular turnover seems like such a simple answer to the age old search for the fountain of youth. All of the products at Qyral are designed to promote the cellular turnover cycle. They are designed to work with your body. We use the answers to your personal assessment to formulate customized blends of AHAs/BHAs for chemical exfoliation, while BioPlacenta, vitamins and minerals give your body everything it needs to create bright, healthy looking skin.

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