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What You Need to Know About Cell Turnover

01 Mar 2021

“Simply put, cell turnover is the circle of life for your skin,” explains Youth To The People’s Senior Education Executive, Jacob Tomás del Rosario. “Your cells are born at the deeper layer of tissue in your epidermis, and your body continually reproduces healthy new ones to replace the dead ones on the skin’s surface.” But what happens to the dead ones?

Ideally, the dead cells should slough off naturally, but the aging process, along with free radical damage and other environmental stressors can lead to build-up on the skin. The resulting fallout can be different for everyone, but it typically ranges from dry patches and dullness to congestion and—in more severe cases—inflammation in varying forms of contact dermatitis, like eczema

So, what can be done to best support an inevitably aging system? Along with other more obvious healthy living choices, like drinking enough water, avoiding refined sugars, and getting a good night’s rest when possible, del Rosario finds a driving analogy to be a useful visualizer here:

“Think of the freeway and a traffic jam,” he says. “As we age, our cells start to back up on themselves, which leads to an accumulation of keratin proteins—aka dead cells. In turn, that hinders our ability to reflect light, (a symptom more commonly referred to as ‘lackluster skin’), but with the right products, we can help our skin to release and shed dead cells as we go, keeping our pathway to light open—and the freeway moving.”

With this in mind, it’s good to get an approximate handle on where your current cell turnover rate falls on the spectrum before tweaking your routine accordingly. 

“The full cycle for the average baby is two weeks, while for more mature skin it can take up to 90 days to turnover,” says del Rosario. “Starting in your 20s, it generally falls somewhere around 28-30 days, which is why most people need a good month to see the effects of a new skincare regimen or product, but it could take longer if you’re older.”

Lately, del Rosario says that he has noticed a breeze of negativity trending around physical exfoliants on social media, but he states that they are an, (if not the), essential element in assisting your skin’s closed loop cell renewal system. 

“Physical exfoliation is like sweeping the floor—we all need to do it. It’s particularly great for younger skin, or for anyone who’s new to exfoliation, but as we age, we need deeper, chemical or enzymatic exfoliation too,” he explains, adding that skin damage from exfoliants only really occurs “when a product has large granules, or if a formula is applied too frequently or with an overly aggressive scrubbing motion.”

As a starting point, he recommends all age groups to begin with Youth To The People's Yerba Mate Resurfacing Energy Facial once or twice a week, massaging the formula in with light pressure, as you might if you were applying to a balloon. The facial contains minute, smooth granules of diatomaceous earth—which won’t cause micro-tears—to do the sweeping, as well as active enzymes from papaya and pineapple to break down dead skin cells.

Every other night, he says to give YTTP’s triple-action Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner a whirl to further smooth skin and help boost cell renewal. 

Lending to the credence that it is not what we do sometimes, but what we do often and with conviction, del Rosario adds that consistency in routine is key to maintaining momentum in healthy cell turnover. That, plus the topical application of antioxidants

“It sounds cliche, but take every advantage in your daily life to set your skin up for success,” he says. “Be diligent, utilize heavy doses of antioxidants throughout your routine to help neutralize free radical damage like vitamin C, and add in extra replenishing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid—and you’ll be on your way to aging gracefully.”

Written by Elsa de Berker for Youth To The People

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