Understanding Exfoliation: Removing Dead Skin Cells

Removing Dead Skin Cells

When your skin undergoes the process of natural skin turnover every 30 days, the upper layer of the skin is shed which reveals the middle layer of your skin. However, What Is Exfoliation?

When you first hear the term exfoliation, it sounds like an extremely complex procedure that alters the skin entirely. However, it is not as complex as it sounds. Exfoliation is the process of removing the oldest dead skin cells present atop the skins’ outer most surface. Exfoliation can be done in many different ways, however, different exfoliation treatments tend to different skin types. Therefore, before beginning any exfoliation treatment, know your skin type for better and effective results.

Learn your skin type

There are five major skin types. Once you identify your skin type, it’ll make it easier to narrow down the exfoliation method. However, it is important to keep in mind that your skin type can change with age, weather, and lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol consumption or smoking. Therefore, re-identify your skin type immediately before choosing your exfoliating treatment.

The five major skin types are:

Dry skin

Dry skin often has white dry patches. Scratch marks are left when you itch. Dry skin requires more moisture. Most people tend to get dry skin during winter.

Oily skin

Oily skin often has an excess production of sebum which are the natural oils released by the sebaceous glands beneath our pores. Oily skin is more prone to acne and clogged pores.

Combination of dry and oily skin

A combination is when you have features of both oily and dry skin. You might have zones where the skin is drier such as around your cheeks and jawline, and oily around certain areas such as the nose, forehead, and chin.

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is irritated easily when it comes in contact with foreign substances such as perfumes, fragrances, chemicals, and other synthetic materials such as regular soap. Sensitive skin can also be oily, dry, or combination of the two.

Normal skin

Normal skin

Normal skin is the rarest skin type and is oil-free. Naturally moisturized, normal sensitivity. This is a rare type of skin as most people have at least a hint of oily or dry skin.

Chemical Exfoliation Treatments

Hydroxy Acids

There are two major kinds of hydroxy acids – Alpha Hydroxy Acid, and Beta Hydroxy Acid.


Alpha hydroxy acids are best when treated on dry skin. They are plant-based acids that dissolve dead skin cells that appear on the surface of the face.

A Few Common Alpha Hydroxy Acids Are:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Malic Acid
  • Lactic Acid

Be sure to test these acids individually using a patch test as it will be easier to identify if your skin is allergic to any of these acids. Once you are accustomed to the alpha-hydroxy acids, you can try experimenting with different combinations.


Beta Hydroxy Acids are the best solution for oily skin types. Beta hydroxy acids work to remove dead skin cells that are deep in the pores. This helps reduce breakouts, acne, or sunspots.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels contain enzymes that are usually derived from fruits that help remove dead skin cells. Unlike the hydroxy acids, chemical enzyme peels do not stimulate cellular turnover, therefore, they do not expose a fresh layer of the face. It makes them the best option for those with a more sensitive skin type.

Mechanical Exfoliation

Rather than dissolving the dead skin cells, mechanical exfoliation forcefully removes dead skin cells. Since it uses force, most mechanical exfoliation devices are to be avoided by those who have dry or sensitive skin.

Exfoliation Through The Use Of Powders

Exfoliation powders remove dead skin cells by absorbing them along with any excess oil. The general procedure to use exfoliation powders is by dissolving them in water and applying the paste over your face. For stronger results, use less water and form a thicker paste.

Dry Brushing

Dry brushing uses a brush equipped with soft bristles to brush away the dead skin cells that are present on the surface of the face. Before using the dry brush, be sure to wet your face with water, and whilst brushing, use small circular motions for 30 seconds. Avoid using this method on the skin that has cuts or skin that is easily irritated (sensitive skin).

Wash Cloth

Washcloth is a method that is applicable for the select few with normal skin. By simply drying your face with a washcloth using small circular motions, you are able to get rid of all dry skin cells.

Zorro Nano Ionic Portable Steamer

Ionic Portable Steamer

The Nano Ionic Portable Steamer by Cocconby known as Zorro is a great mechanical exfoliation device for any type of skin. This is because of it’s gentle yet efficient nature. If you have sensitive skin you can use just water to exfoliate and remove the dead skin cells as the steam gently opens the pores. If you have a non-sensitive skin type, you can add additional essential oils to reap more benefits. This portable steamer also comes with many strength settings, therefore, you can further customize it to match your skin. This facial steamer is also a great tool for those with sensitive skin to use as a blackhead removal treatment. The facial steamer opens your pores and drains the clogged pores of the substances that are trapped within them.

What To Avoid Whilst Exfoliating

There are many ingredients that are present in exfoliating products that could often work against you when it comes to removing dead skin cells.

Stay away from products that contain:

  • Sugar
  • Beads
  • Nutshells
  • Microbes
  • Coarse Salts
  • Baking Soda

These ingredients are too harsh on the skin and could often get trapped within pores and cause inflammation.


The key to safe exfoliation for any skin type, in general, is using the gentler treatments such as the ones presented through facial steamers. Our facial skin is fragile, therefore, we need to handle it with extra care. After the process of any type of exfoliation, our skin is left drier, therefore, it is important to treat the skin immediately with a good quality moisturizer. In addition, do not exfoliate the skin regularly as it is a harsh process on the skin and always rinse your face with cold water after the treatment to close the pores that have been exfoliated.


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