Here's something you don't hear every day: Don't exfoliate all those dead skin cells off your face. Dead skin cells actually make your complexion look better. No joke. You need a layer or so of dead cells on your face to – get this – keep your skin hydrated.
why you need dead skin cells on your face
According to Celeste Lutrario, VP of Research and Development at Burt's Bees, a live cell is mostly filled up with its nucleus, so it can't absorb any more moisture than it already contains. A dead cell, however, has a handy reservoir space left after the nucleus dies, which gives the cell a new, after-life purpose.
"Dead cells bring all the moisture from the atmosphere to the skin," says Lutrario. "In their dehydrated state, they're kind of flat. With moisture, they actually plump up like little grapes. If you're fully moisturized, you get rid of fine lines and wrinkles."
Now don't get all crazy and jettison your Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, Origins Modern Friction, St. Ives Fresh Skin Gentle Apricot Scrub or Neostrata Purifying Solution 8% Gylcolic from your bathroom window. Gentle exfoliation once or twice per week clears away only the dead cells ready to leave the very surface of your skin. "The only way you can take off all the dead cells is a harsh chemical peel," notes Lutratio.
Or a brutal microdermabrasion: for weeks after the awful experience I told you about in this post, I couldn't understand why my skin was so dry. I had all this shiny new skin after my welts had healed, yet couldn't get enough moisturizer. WTF? Well now it makes sense.
"Live cells have no way of keeping moisture, and exposure to the atmosphere dehydrates them," explains Lutrario. "It takes 28 days from the birth to the death of a cell. Dead skin cells then stay on the surface for two weeks, and two weeks after that are pushed from the surface of the skin by newly dead cells."
Nice to know not all deadbeats are useless, huh?