The Regimen

Youthful Skin is All About Cellular Turnover

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The way we in the skin care industry go on about cellular turnover, you’d think it was the holy grail of healthy skin, the key to radiance, the fountain of youth. Oh wait, that’s because it is.


But cellular turnover is one of those terms you get so used to hearing that you don’t even think about what it really means. It’s worth examining and underscoring the meaning and relevance of these ever-present buzz-words. In case you’ve ever wondered, here are the details related to the all-important process known as cell turnover.




Cellular turnover describes the process of shedding dead skin cells and their replacement with fresh, new, younger, healthier cells. Cells start out plump and full of moisture in the bottom layer of the epidermis (the outer layers of skin from the stratum basale through the stratum spinosum and stratum granulosum, to the stratum corneum). As skin cells mature, they rise through the compact layers of the epidermis becoming flatter and drier until they reach the surface of the skin. By this point, the cells are nothing more than dry flakes of keratin protein waiting to be shed.


How quickly or slowly this process occurs has to do with several factors, including age, environment, UV exposure, hormones, the foods we eat, whether or not you smoke (don’t!).


Age is the biggest factor. Babies are cell turnover factories completing a cell turnover cycle in under two weeks, hence their amazingly soft, smooth, endlessly smoochable skin. By the teen years, the process takes three to four weeks. Then things start to slow. By your forties, it’s taking about 45 days to complete the skin cell cycle. By your fifties, it can be as long as 60 days.




The longer the cell turnover cycle takes, the more dead cells are left to build up on the surface of the skin. This proliferation of cellular debris makes skin look heavy, dry, and dull. The dead cells clog and stretch pores, making them appear larger and more pronounced. They trap oil and bacteria in the pore, which can lead to breakouts. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see acne well past your teen years. Lines and wrinkles appear deeper as the dead skin cells buildup around them. Patches of excess pigment (age spots or hyperpigmentation) appear darker.


By increasing cell turnover, you remove dead skin that has accumulated on the surface. You reduce the appearance of pores. You clear impactions and reduce breakouts. You diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You also reduce excess pigment. Increasing cell turnover is the way to smoother texture and a more even tone, the prerequisite to radiance, and essential to maintaining healthy, vibrant skin.




Exfoliation is the key to boosting cell turnover. Whether physical (scrubs) or chemical (acids), exfoliation removes dead skin cells and encourages the generation of new cells. A combination of both is best.


Use an exfoliating scrub a few times a week to physically loosen and lift dead skin cells.

Vivant’s Buffing Grains Exfoliating Cleanser is good for all skin types and can be used on its own or added to a targeted cleanser for maximum radiance.


For acne-prone skin, try Vivant’s BP 3% Exfoliating Cleanser, which combines buffing granules with benzoyl peroxide to fight acne above and below skin’s surface. Mandelic Acid 3-In-1Exfoliating Cleanser is an excellent choice for dark skin tones prone to hyperpigmentation.


An acid-based toner will aid the exfoliation process and optimize the absorption of your regenerative serums. With their sloughing and hydrating formula of mandelic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acid, plus ceramide-boosting niacinamide, Daily Repair Pads are an excellent choice. The textured pads act as a micro-peel lifting cellular debris and clearing the way for corrective serums to be optimally absorbed by your skin.


If you have sensitive skin or rosacea is an issue, try our Skin Nourishing Toner, an alcohol-free cocktail of exfoliating acids and skin nourishing botanicals including mandelic acid, rosehip oil, and green tea extract.


The other factor to address is cell proliferation. Cell turnover slows with age because the cells simply aren’t regenerating as quickly as they did when we were young. That means fewer new cells pushing toward the surface. This is where retinol comes in. Vitamin A works to speed the process of cell turnover, but it also acts as a cell regulator, signaling the production of collagen and elastin.


Not all retinols are the same, however. Vivant’s patented Vitamin A Propionate is the most effective non-prescription retinoid available. Because of its small molecular size, it’s more readily absorbed by skin so it can reach the lower levels of skin to effect change. Vitamin A Propionate has been shown to cut the average cell cycle in half to rapidly rejuvenate the complexion.


If you’re new to vitamin A, Vivant’s Derm-A-Gel® Daily Vitamin A with brightening kojic acid, lactic acid, and nourishing niacinamide is your starting point. If your skin is already acclimated to vitamin A, you may want to try a more advanced formula like Exfol-A™, which pairs Vitamin A Propionate with glycolic, kojic, and lactic acids to accelerate cell renewal and promote a youthful, radiant glow. See the entire line of Vivant’s Vitamin A Propionate therapies here.


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