The natural process of skin renewal involves the outer layer of skin, or epidermis, shedding old cells and replacing them with new ones. This process helps the skin stay healthy, but sometimes dead skin cells can accumulate on the skin, making it look dull, dry, and flaky. Excess dead skin can also clog the pores and cause acne, blackheads, and other skin problems.

In this article, we will explain what might cause a buildup of dead skin, how to recognize the signs of dead skin, and how to safely and effectively remove it.

What is dead skin?

Dead skin is the term used to describe the old, worn-out cells that make up the epidermis, the top layer of skin. These cells are constantly being shed and replaced by new ones from the deeper layers of the skin. This whole process takes about a month, depending slightly on the individual.

Dead skin cells usually fall off naturally through regular daily activities, such as washing, rubbing, or changing clothes, and especially if you use an exfoliating scrub or soap. However, sometimes, a thin layer is left on your skin, clogging your pores.

What causes dead skin to accumulate?

1. Aging

As we age, our skin becomes thinner, drier, and less supple. This slows down the cell turnover process and makes it harder for the skin to shed dead cells. Aging also reduces the production of natural oils and collagen, which help keep the skin hydrated and firm.

Most dead skin simply rubs off as you go about your everyday business. However, as you age, you become less active, which gives you fewer chances to rub away the dead skin.

2. Not maintaining a proper cleansing routine

Cleansing the skin is essential to remove dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities that can clog the pores and trap dead skin cells. However, over-cleansing or using harsh soaps can strip the skin of its protective barrier and moisture, leading to dryness and irritation. Similarly, not washing regularly can also lead to dead skin building up, especially on the face.

3. Adverse environmental conditions

Exposure to extreme temperatures, low humidity, wind, pollution, and other environmental factors can dry out skin and make the cells die faster. To protect the skin from environmental damage, you should wear sunscreen when going outside and use moisturizer regularly.

4. Sun damage

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can penetrate the skin and cause various types of damage, such as sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Sun damage can also reduce the skin’s ability to heal and regenerate itself. To prevent sun damage, limit your exposure to the sun and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 every day, even on cloudy or rainy days.

5. Using chemically-enriched skincare products

Many skincare products contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin, cause allergic reactions, remove moisture, and disrupt the natural PH balance. Look for skincare products that are natural, organic, or hypoallergenic.

If your skin is sensitive, try doing a patch test before using a new product. You can do this by applying a small amount on your inner arm and then waiting 24 hours to see if you react to it.

Signs or how to know you have dead skin buildup?

1. Dull complexion

Dead skin cells can make the skin look dull, lifeless, and uneven, and can also prevent the skin from absorbing the benefits of skincare products, such as moisturizers, serums, and masks, reducing their effectiveness. They reflect light poorly, making the skin appear darker or more yellow than it is. If you notice a difference in the color and tone of your skin compared with other parts of your body that are not exposed to the sun, such as your inner arm or thigh, you may have dead skin build-up.

2. Dry, rough skin

Dead skin cells can prevent the skin from retaining moisture and oils, making it dry and flaky. If you run your fingers over your skin, you may feel rough patches or bumps, and it could appear uneven. Dry skin usually itches and can crack or bleed, which can increase the risk of infection and scarring, and will often make your skin look older than it is as well as increasing its sensitivity.

3. Congested pores

Dead skin cells can clog the pores and trap dirt, oil, bacteria, and other impurities. This can lead to the formation of acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of blemishes. Congested pores can also make the pores look larger and more noticeable, affecting the skin’s smoothness and clarity. If you’re using a pore strip or a comedone extractor to remove the impurities from your pores, you may also see dead skin cells.

How to remove dead skin from face?

Removing dead skin from the face is simple. However, it is important to do it gently and carefully, using the right methods and products for your skin type. If you aren’t sure what to use, look for a skin care regimen by skin type.

Start by cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser that suits your skin type. Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry with a soft towel. Avoid using hot water or rubbing your skin too hard, as this can cause irritation and damage.

Next, exfoliate your face with a product that contains either physical exfoliants — rough-textured materials like sugar, salt, or oatmeal — or chemical exfoliants, usually mild acids. A great example is Glowpeel Dermal Exfoliation And Skin Resurfacing Repair Serum, which is a chemical exfoliant that gently refreshes your skin.

Physical exfoliants require gentle rubbing to remove dead skin cells while chemical exfoliants simply need to be applied to the face and left on for a few minutes before rinsing off. If you want to know how often you should exfoliate your face, once a week is usually sufficient — more than that can lead to dryness and irritation.

For the third step, you should tone your face. Toning products are usually liquids with ingredients like witch hazel, rose water, aloe vera, or green tea. They’re designed to soothe, hydrate, and refresh the skin. Avoid using toners that contain alcohol, as these can dry out and irritate the skin. You can also make your toner at home.

Next, moisturize your face with a product that can replenish the skin’s moisture and oils and protect it from external factors. Moisturizing products nourish, hydrate, and soften the skin. They often include natural oils, which are good if you have dry skin. If you have oily skin, you’ll need to look for moisturizers designed not to make your skin oilier.

At the end of your skincare routine, apply sunscreen to protect your face. Make sure your sunscreen is at least SPF 15, and reapply it every two hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is good for dead skin?

Some of the best natural remedies for dead skin are honey, lemon, and olive oil. Honey and olive oil can moisturize skin, and lemon juice brightens up your skin, tightens the pores, and can even kill bacteria.

Why is removing dead skin good?

Removing dead skin is good for the skin. It not only makes skin look brighter and smoother, but it also can improve the skin’s ability to breathe, grow new cells, and fight infections, as well as help prevent acne.

What happens if dead skin is not removed?

Dead skin can make the skin look dull because it doesn’t reflect light as well as living skin. It also makes the skin drier and rougher and can clog pores, leading to acne and other blemishes.


Dead skin is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the outer layer of the skin sheds old cells and replaces them with new ones. But when dead skin cells accumulate on the surface of the skin, it can look dull, clog pores, and cause acne and other skin problems. Make sure to remove dead skin regularly and gently.

Look for a skincare regimen that suits your skin, and find the best moisturizer, best toner, and best exfoliator for face. Use the products that work best for you, and you can achieve healthy, glowing, and beautiful skin. Remember to also protect your skin from the sun and moisturize it daily.