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The skin continuously loses dead skin cells and replaces them with new cells. However, sometimes these dead cells accumulate on the skin surface, making it appear dull.
As the dead skin cells pile up, they inhibit the absorption of nutrients and block sweat glands, often leading to the formation of acne, blackheads, and whiteheads.
A persistent problem of dead skin cell accumulation can also cause flakiness, dry patches, and premature aging. Therefore, it is essential to exfoliate your skin regularly to help clear the skin of dead cells, dirt, and oil. It also enables the efficient absorption of skin products.
Home Remedies to Remove Dead Skin Cells
Exfoliation is the key to the removal of dead skin cells, allowing the skin to regenerate. The following are some home remedies that can aid in sloughing off the unwanted dead skin cells.
Note: The remedies mentioned below are based on anecdotal evidence and have little to no scientific support. However, these remedies are generally safe to use, and many users report their effectiveness.
Disclaimer: It is essential to conduct a patch test before using any home remedy to check for any allergies or sensitivity reactions. Consult your doctor about the use of these remedies if you have skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.
1. Perform dry brushing
Dry brushing your skin is an effective method to remove the dead skin cell buildup from your skin. Moreover, dry brushing helps tighten the skin and improves its texture.
How to use:
- Brush your whole body with a coarse, natural-fiber-bristled brush while standing upright. Start from the legs and move upward to the thighs, chest, back, and shoulders. This can take from 10 to 20 minutes.
- Take a shower after dry brushing.
- Pat your skin dry, and apply a moisturizer.
- Perform dry brushing a few times a week.
2. Use a coffee scrub
Coffee grounds are coarse in texture and thereby work as natural exfoliators. Additionally, the caffeine in coffee boosts circulation and prevents photoaging. (1) You can make a scrub by mixing coffee grounds with any oil that moisturizes and nourishes the skin.
How to use:
- Mix 3 tbsp of coffee grounds with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of honey.
- Gently massage this scrub on your neck, face, elbows, knees, and foot.
- Wash your skin with warm water after 5–10 minutes.
- Pat your skin dry and apply a moisturizer.
- Use this remedy once weekly.
3. Make a buttermilk and oatmeal scrub
Topical use of buttermilk is popular for fading dark spots, blemishes, suntan, etc. It also helps cleanse the skin of any impurities and dirt. Being a milk product, buttermilk contains lactic acid that acts as a mild exfoliator and helps lighten the skin.
Oats, on the other hand, are natural exfoliators that soothe, moisturize, and rejuvenate the skin.
How to use:
- Mix ½ cup of buttermilk with ½ cup of oatmeal, and allow it to soak for some time.
- Once the mixture turns into a thick paste, apply it to the skin and massage in circular motions.
- Rinse the skin with fresh water.
- Repeat this remedy twice a week for best results.
4. Use a sugar and coconut oil scrub
Sugar is a popular and effective ingredient for scrubs due to its gentle exfoliating action. It is also safe in case of accidental ingestion.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, deeply hydrates and nourishes the skin. (2) You can also add lavender essential oil to the scrub for a soothing effect.
This scrub is especially useful to achieve smooth, supple lips. However, it is advised not to use this scrub on the face as the sugar granules can damage the sensitive facial skin and cause irritation.
How to use:
- Mix 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil with 1 tbsp of sugar.
- Add 2–3 drops of lavender essential oil and mix well.
- Massage the mixture on the skin gently.
- Wash after 5 minutes.
5. Prepare an almond and milk scrub
Moreover, almonds contain moisturizing properties that nourish the skin from within and improve its health. Milk contains lactic acid that cleanses and exfoliates the skin.
How to use:
- Soak 10–12 almonds in milk and leave it overnight.
- Peel the almonds in the morning and grind them.
- Mix the granules in 2 tsp of honey.
- Apply this paste to your face and neck. Massage gently for a couple of minutes and allow it to dry. Wash the skin with lukewarm water.
- You can use this remedy two to three times a week.
6. Use orange peel powder
Orange peel is another highly effective natural exfoliator. The vitamin C in orange peels helps in the removal of dead skin cells (5) and dirt and rejuvenates the skin at the same time.
How to use:
- Dry orange peels in the sunlight for a few days and grind them to form a fine powder. Store the powder in an airtight container.
- Mix orange peel powder with equal amounts of yogurt.
- Apply the paste to the affected areas, and allow it to dry for 20 minutes.
- Wet your hands and rub off the paste from your skin in circular motions.
- Use this remedy once a week.
7. Try Epsom salts
Epsom salts boost blood circulation, especially to the feet, thus helping remove dead skin cells. They also contain magnesium, (6) which can help detoxify the feet.
How to use:
- Mix 1 cup of Epsom salt with 1 cup of coconut oil. Add 1–12 drops of lavender essential oil to it. Apply the paste to the affected areas and scrub. Rinse with lukewarm water. Repeat this remedy regularly for best results.
- Add Epsom salts to water and soak your feet in it. Apply petroleum jelly after drying your feet. Use this remedy for 3 days continuously.
Self-Care Measures and Lifestyle Changes for Dead Skin Cells
It is essential to update your self-care routine and make some changes to your lifestyle habits in order to take better care of your skin. Follow these tips to resolve the buildup of dead skin cells:
1. Exfoliate regularly
It is essential to exfoliate the skin regularly to clear the skin surface of dead skin cells and other impurities that can clog the pores.
You can either use mechanical exfoliation methods, such as scrubs, or chemical methods, such as the use of alpha hydroxy acids, which do not require scrubbing. (7)
2. Scrub the skin gently
Since scrubbing the skin can cause micro-tears on the surface, make sure to use mild exfoliators. Massage the scrubs on to the skin in circular or upward motions with a light hand. Do not exfoliate your skin more than thrice a week.
3. Use the right tools
You can use beauty tools to exfoliate your skin while reaping other skin benefits. These tools include:
- Facial exfoliating brush. This tool helps remove dead skin cells and dirt from the skin surface. Dampen your skin, apply a cleanser, and gently rub the brush on your skin.
- Washcloth. Gently rub a clean washcloth on your face in circular motions to help remove dead skin cells.
- Microdermabrasion kits. This is generally a medical procedure that helps treat persistent dead skin problems, but various at-home microdermabrasion kits are also available.
- Waxing. Primarily used for removing hair from the skin, waxing also helps exfoliate and cleanse the skin and hair follicles. It can be performed every 2–8 weeks.
It is essential to apply a moisturizer after exfoliation to help keep the skin hydrated and soft. Moreover, proper hydration helps boost the skin renewal process, thus preventing dead skin cells to accumulate in the first place.
5. Improve your diet
Including antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet aids in the prevention of photoaging. It also gives a glow to your skin. Sugars and carbohydrates, on the other hand, give your skin a dull appearance.
6. Avoid sun exposure
Apply sunscreen and use protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to help protect your skin from the sun. The harmful UV rays of the sun can dry out your skin cells and cause premature aging.
7. Cleanse your skin
Wash your face twice a day using a mild cleanser to help remove dirt and dead skin cells.
8. Quit smoking
It is important to stop this harmful habit as cigarette smoke can contribute to skin aging and increase cell death frequency.
The natural skin cell cycle results in the production of thousands of dead skin cells every minute. It is essential to prevent these dead cells from accumulating on the skin surface as it can cause dull and dry skin.
In some cases, dead skin cell accumulation may result from skin conditions, but most cases are caused by improper skin care. Therefore, it is advised to exfoliate and cleanse your skin regularly to remove all impurities from the skin surface. Doing so helps maintain your skin health, giving it a smooth and supple appearance.