Without regularly cleansing our skin, dead cells can build up on the surface. But what's wrong with these cells, and what role do they play in the appearance of our skin?
Dead skin cells: the facts
Did you know that, during an average 24-hour period, we shed almost a million skin cells? That works out as around 30,000-40,000 every hour! These cells are called ‘keratinocytes’, and are composed of the fibrous protein keratin. They are formed at the base of the epidermis, and gradually move up through the skin until they reach the outer surface, where they die, forming what is known as the "stratum corneum" - around 15-20 layers of dead cells. Eventually, the cells at the very top of the strateum corneum break away and fall off the skin, allowing new cells to push up from beneath. This is the natural life cycle of the skin.
Dead skin cells and breakouts
When these dead skin cells do not break away from the skin regularly enough, they can collect in the hair follicles on our skin, aka pores. They then combine with the body's natural oils (sebum) and clog the pore, resulting in comedones - blackheads and whiteheads - popping up from under the surface of the skin. If bacteria then manage to enter the follicle, these pimples can become inflamed, causing pustules, papules, even cysts. By helping our skin to remove the upper layers of dead skin regularly, we reduce the risk of blocked pores and the resulting breakouts.
How to remove dead skin cells
Rubbing or using harsh products on your skin is not recommended by experts, especially not on acne-prone skin. Why? Because if you remove too much natural oil during the process, your skin will react and produce more, which can cause more breakouts as the follicles become blocked with keratin and oil all over again.
Instead, it is recommended to use a gentle oil-free cleanser with exfoliating properties which will a) remove the necessary dead skin and b) support your skin to retain a balanced pH level and prevent breakouts. Cleansing in both the morning and evening will help keep the rhythm of shedding normal, and your complexion