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How Slow Cellular Turnover Visibly Ages Your Skin?

Cellular turnover plays a significant role in how our skin looks and feels. In the world of anti-aging skincare, it’s the cause behind products like exfoliants, peels, and even more intensive professional medical treatments like microdermabrasion. But, what is cellular turnover, how does it impact your skin, and what can you do about it?

What Is Cellular Turnover?

Cellular turnover describes how quickly skin produces new cells, or how quickly new skin cells migrate from the deepest layers to the top layers of skin. Slowed cellular turnover is triggered by a decrease in collagen synthesis and elastin (the building blocks of healthy, taught skin), which leads to a loss of skin vibrancy, lift, elasticity, and firmness. The natural aging process causes this decrease in collagen and elastin.

It’s not just the natural aging process that slows cellular turnover. Lifestyle choices like smoking, or spending too much time in the sun, a stressful lifestyle, poor diet and nutrient deficiencies can cause cellular turnover to slow a lot earlier than our genetics would determine.

The Skin Cycle

Skin is the largest organ of the body. It consists of three layers of tissues: the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous layer. The epidermis is the paper-thin outer layer of the skin. The outer layer of the epidermis consists of dead cells that are always flaking or washing off. These are replaced by new cells manufactured in the lower portion of the epidermis, which move upward to the outside of the skin. As they do so, the cells harden and die.

This cycle of cell production and replacement slows as we age. When we are babies, cellular turnover can happen in as little as 3-5 days. That is why a baby’s skin looks plump, radiant, and wrinkle free. As we age, cellular turnover slows extending this process by up to 28-45 days by the time we are 30 years old, 45-60 days by the time we are 40, and 60-90+ days as we continue to age.

Age Turnover Cycle
Infants / Children 3-5 days
Teens 10-21 days
20’s 14-21 days
30’s 28-45 days
40’s 45-60 days
50’s+ 60-90+ days

How Does Delayed Cellular Turnover Impact Your Skin?

As cellular turnover slows, dead cells accumulate on the surface of skin causing sagging and collapse of structure or what we see dull dry skin with more lines, wrinkles, and deeper folds. Slower cellular turnover can also trigger pores to enlarge and expand as they become filled, or clogged, with a mixture of dead skin cells and oil. Bacteria can become trapped causing blemishes and breakouts, a contributing factor to adult acne. Discolored and irregular cells can also become trapped causing spots, discoloration, and sometimes more serious skin conditions.

Beyond these visible effects of slower cellular turnover, skin issues like eczema and contact or allergic dermatitis can be more likely and more troublesome. Skin can even become desensitized and be slower to recover from injury.

When the outer surface of skin is made of newer skin cells, skin feels softer and looks more luminous with less lines and imperfections. By maintaining an average 28-day or faster replacement cycle through healthy lifestyle choices and a regular skin care routine that addresses the basics of skin, your skin will appear smoother and more youthful.

What Can You Do About This?


Slowed cellular turnover is addressed by exfoliation, either in the form of physical exfoliation (scrubs and professional services) or chemical exfoliation (peels that rely on Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid available in our Stimulight Facial, Revive (Express) Peel, Revitalizing Facial Peel, and Resurfacing Peel w/Vitamin Infused Mask) and Photobiomodulation in the form of Red Light Therapy.

Whether physical or chemical, exfoliation helps loosen dead skin cells from the surface. This stimulates newer, fresher cells to rise to the surface—and these cells are usually more full of water, which results in an immediate plumping effect and a visible reduction in the depth of fine lines and wrinkles.

Another form of manual exfoliation comes in the form of professional services like Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion. Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion are non-invasive, skin-resurfacing treatments that combines exfoliation, extraction and delivery of solutions to improve skin health, function and appearance. An exclusive diamond tip exfoliator provides uniform, even and precise exfoliation that clears away dry, damaged and dulling skin cells from the surface. When combined with the extraction of debris from the pores and a simultaneous serum infusion, skin shows an immediate improvement in volume, hydration, tone, and texture.

Light Therapy

LED light therapy, or LED photo rejuvenation provides a mechanism for Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) or “Photo Bio-stimulation” – also called ‘Phototherapy’ and “Photobiomodulation”. First developed by NASA for plant growth experiments in space, LED lights were quickly discovered to have the ability to deliver light deeper into the tissues of the body and promote wound healing and human tissue rejuvenation. NASA’s final results included: an increase of cell tissue and fibroblast growth of 140-200%, increases in growth of normal human epithelial cells by 155% -171%, and wound healing time decreased by up to 50%.

LED works by sending energy-producing bursts of light into the deep, nutrient rich dermal layers of the skin. The therapy works on a cellular level emitting low-intensity light wavelengths through different colored LED lights much the same way that plants use the sun for photosynthesis, but without the harsh and damaging effects caused by UV rays. Our skin’s tissue has the ability to absorb this light as a source of energy which stimulates and causes a greater cell turnover.

Light Therapy is a risk-free, non-invasive procedure that helps to regenerate skin cells (increase cellular turnover), cleanse and nourish the skin, and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Both of collagen and elastin are critically important when it comes to your skin’s structure and appearance. Collagen is responsible for how smooth and firm your skin is, while elastin takes care of its tightness and elasticity. Again, your skin produces both of these proteins in large amounts when it is young, with this rate declining rapidly as you age.

The effects of Phototherapy and LLLT are photochemical. When the correct intensity and frequency are used, the light energy photons, generated by the LED light sources, are absorbed by selected chromophores in the tissue. This process stimulates mitochondrial and Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) production; promoting blood circulation and tissue oxygenation, leading to a reduction in inflammation, increased lymphatic flow and cell proliferation, while also facilitating the creation and extension of the anti-aging enzymes ultimately resulting in skin rejuvenation that includes: a reduction in wrinkles, toning, tightening and texturing while also addressing conditions such as age spots, sun damage, oily and dry skin, large pore size, acne, scarring, cellulite, Psoriasis, Rosacea, Eczema, and more.

Learn more about the benefits of light therapy at How Does Red Light Therapy Actually Work, Improve The Health Of Your Skin With Red And Near Infrared Light Therapy, Can You Overdo LED Light Therapy Treatments, Can You Use Retinol With Light Therapy Devices.


Because slower cellular turnover plays such a critical role in the way skin ages, cosmetic scientists and chemists have been actively researching ingredients that can restore a more youthful cell cycle and accelerate it to mimic that of a younger skin. A Vitamin A compound (Retinol) has been a key ingredient in anti-aging strategies. Vitamin A helps speed up cellular turnover by first stimulating the sloughing (or removal) of dead skin cells from the surface, and then acting as a cell regulator, directly effecting collagen production and producing collagen and elastin fibers. Retinol can be a challenging ingredient for mature skin types struggling with a decline in moisture because it can be drying and irritating. For this reason, PLEIJ Salon+Spa relies on Environ’s Medical Grade Skincare Line and it’s patented Vitamin Step-Up System™. Our skin needs to acclimate itself, and adjust to extra vitamins being applied to it, particularly vitamin A which is vital for it health, radiance and youthfulness. Environ’s range of moisturizes in the Essential Skin Care segment contain a series of products with increasing amounts of vitamin A as well as other vitamins and antioxidants. Retinol has demonstrated amazing efficacy on the visible signs of sun damage, lines, and wrinkles, while improving overall skin texture and tone.

Use the following links to Learn More About Environ Skincare and it’s product offering, take the brand’s Skin Profile Test Product Finder, or Schedule A Free Consultation.

Glycolic Acid

Another trusted and well-established ingredient that actively encourages cellular turnover is Glycolic Acid. Commonly obtained from sugar cane, this Alpha Hydroxy Acid is often recommended by dermatologists and medical professionals because it is highly efficacious and delivers dramatic rejuvenating results without intense downtime or recovery time. Glycolic Acid works by dissolving the “glue” between surface skin cells so they can be sloughed off. By sloughing off old skin cells, the skin cellular turnover process is activated to bring fresher, younger lower-level cells to the surface. Glycolic Acid is also a favorite amongst dermatologists because it is highly effective at visibly minimizing a multitude of skin issues including oily-prone skin, clogged pores, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles.

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At PLEIJ Salon+Spa, we are committed to sharing health and beauty tips to enrich your life. Everyone deserves to live an empowered life and we want to help you get there.

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