The Regimen

What the Flake? How to Deal With Your Accelerated Cell Turnover

Piece of yellow construction paper torn off


Accelerated cell turnover is a good thing. So why does it sometimes feel so wrong? Your skin is dry and as flaky as a freshly baked croissant. Put your panic on hold. Flaking is necessary, but it doesn’t mean you have to look and feel like a crackle paint DIY project in the process. Allow us to walk you through the finer points of flaking to help you minimize the awkward phase and get on to the glow.


Why is my skin flaking?


The cell turnover cycle takes about thirty days. Advanced dermatological products contain ingredients that speed cell turnover. That means dead cells are reaching the surface faster than they can naturally be shed away. At the same time, the active ingredients are encouraging the regeneration of healthy new cells, which are trying to emerge, putting further pressure on those dry surface cells to peel away.


Case in point: Vitamin A propionate, the key ingredient in Vivant’s patented vitamin A therapies, accelerates the cell cycle from its average 30 days to an average 14 days. Only Retin-A® is more aggressive. And aggressive is not always good. That level of performance ensures a certain level of flaking. Vitamin A propionate was developed by Vivant formulator Dr. James Fulton as a less irritating alternative to Retin-A®. The flaking you will experience with Vivant’s vitamin A therapies is less than you would experience with a prescription retinoid, but more than you’d experience with other retinols.


Why don’t all skin care products cause this flaking?


Not all skin care products are formulated with ingredients that encourage rapid cell turnover even though they may claim to do that. For instance, retinyl palmitate, the ingredient in a majority of non-prescription retinol products, has a large molecular structure that keeps it from getting to the lower levels of the dermis. It works mainly on the surface and is slow to produce change in the skin. You won’t find your skin flaking with palmitate.


How long will the flaking last?


The dry, flaking phase you experience when starting with a new product lasts 30 to 45 days, depending on the condition of your skin. If you regularly exfoliate your skin, this phase will be shorter for you. If you haven’t been using active skin care products and don’t regularly exfoliate, the flaking phase will be at the longer end of the scale, closer to the 45 days. The period where your skin is showing signs of change, i.e., the flaking and dryness, is known as the acclimation period. It will be most apparent in the first couple of weeks, and will lessen as skin acclimates. Once your skin fully acclimates, the flaking will stop, but the benefits will continue.


What can I do to minimize the appearance of flaking?


Exfoliation will help reduce the signs of acclimation. Use one of Vivant’s exfoliating cleansers like Buffing Grains Exfoliating Cleanser or Mandelic Acid 3-In-1 Exfoliating Cleanser. The physical exfoliation helps to clear the cellular debris that’s been brought to the surface.


The next step is chemical exfoliation. This is what toners live for. Alpha hydroxy-based formulas dissolve the cellular glue that binds dead skin cells together to sweep them away, revealing the healthy new layer of skin.


If your skin is generally a bit dry or sensitive and you’re looking for a bit of hydration, choose Skin Nourishing Toner. If your skin could do with a bit more refinement, choose Daily Repair Pads. The textured surface gives added exfoliation, and the nourishing ingredients leave skin feeling hydrated and soft.


If you want to add moisture, use Day Treatment Lotion SPF 15 in the morning, and healing Allantoin Sedating and Hydrating Lotion at night.

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Flake It Till You Make It: Why Flaking is Necessary for Rejuvenation

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