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The Winter Skincare Step You’re Probably Overlooking

It’s no secret that our skin needs some extra TLC during the cooler, drier winter months. But while many of us are familiar with the dehydration and irritation that can come with the change in seasons, most of us don’t realize that our skin cell turnover is also impacted by the weather.

Slower skin cell renewal can lead to dullness, flakiness, and clogged pores. Fortunately, the right exfoliating and turnover-boosting ingredients can get your cellular turnover back on track.

What is Cellular Turnover?

Simply put, skin cell turnover is the process by which your skin sheds dead skin cells and makes way for fresh, healthy cells to emerge on the surface.

There are five layers of cells in the epidermis. Each new skin cell is made at the bottom of these layers and slowly pushed up to the top.. As each layer of skin rises, it picks up melanin, loses some of its fluid content, and hardens as it packs more tightly against its neighboring cells.

The cells are dead by the time they reach the top layer of your skin, forming a thickened layer that protects immature skin cells from environmental stressors. Eventually, the bonds between these dead skin cells and the layer beneath them break and the cells then slough off naturally.

The entire process takes about 28 days in youthful skin.

Why Skin Cell Turnover is Important

Skin cell turnover not only helps your body reveal healthy, radiant cells, it also helps prevent pores from becoming enlarged and clogged with dead cells. When cellular turnover slows, concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin texture and tone, acne, and milia can occur as dead skin cells build up on the surface of your face.

Cellular turnover rates can slow due to a number of factors including:

  • Age - Cellular turnover peaks around age 25
  • Environment - Cold weather can slow sebum production, leading to slower skin cell turnover
  • UV Exposure - UV damage drains the skin’s pool of emerging cells, slowing turnover
  • Hormones - Estrogen helps promote healthy skin cell turnover. As estrogen levels decrease, so does cell turnover.
  • Diet + Lifestyle Habits - Smoking, not drinking enough water, and eating a diet low in healthy fats can cause cellular turnover rates to take a nosedive.

Exfoliating vs. Boosting Cellular Turnover

Exfoliation and increasing cellular turnover are similar in that both are aimed at preventing an accumulation of dead cells on top of your skin. However, they have very different processes.

Exfoliation uses a manual scrub, tool or chemical exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and speed the process of skin cell turnover. In contrast, cellular turnover is the skin’s natural renewal process and includes both the production of new cells as well as the sloughing of dead cells.

Ingredients that Speed Skin Cell Turnover

  • Retinoids - Vitamin A derivatives such as retinol and retinal that prompt the skin to produce more basal skin cells while boosting collagen production.
  • Alpha-Hydroxy Acids - Sugar-derived acids such as lactic acid that exfoliate and stimulate collagen production.
  • Beta-Hydroxy Acids - Oil-soluble carboxylic acids such as salicylic acid and white willow bark extract that work deep inside the pores.
  • Vitamin C - A powerful antioxidant beloved by dermatologists for its ability to stimulate cell turnover, boost collagen and elastin production, and help protect skin from free radicals.

Take care when incorporating any of these clinically proven ingredients into your skincare routine. Layering actives that increase cell turnover can prompt your skin to renew itself too quickly, compromising its protective moisture barrier and exposing vulnerable, immature skin cells to environmental stressors. The result: inflammation, dehydration,  and irritation.

A Turnover-Boosting Layering Guide

Follow this gentle layering guide to increase cellular turnover:


Lather this gel cleanser into a satisfying foam to deep clean pores without over-stripping.

Amino acids dissolve dirt and makeup while aloe soothes and sugarcane-derived squalane delivers a burst of hydration.


Balance and exfoliate with our alcohol-free toner to prepare skin to receive hydration. Naturally-sourced beta hydroxy acids exfoliate dead skin cells unclog pores while squalane mimics your skin’s natural moisture to help strengthen its barrier.


Visibly brighten and fade dark spots with our 10% vitamin C serum. Our non-irritating vitamin C boosts collagen production for increased elasticity while white shitake mushroom visibly improves uneven skin tone.


These two serums are not meant to be layered together. Instead, alternate nights to get the benefits of both clinically proven active ingredients.

On your first night, use our 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Serum to dramatically improve the look of enlarged pores to reveal smoother, more even-textured, hydrated skin.

The next evening, massage a pea-sized amount of our groundbreaking Retinol Night Serum into a completely dry face. To time-release our powerful, encapsulated retinoid blend deep into your skin without irritation.


Our award-winning moisturizer combines Vitamin C and fermented lemon peel to fight free radicals and visibly improve uneven skin tone as well while sugarcane-based squalane deeply moisturizes and plumps fine lines and wrinkles.


Our deeply nourishing moisturizer uses ceramides and beneficial lipids to deliver lasting hydration and strengthen the skin’s natural moisture barrier, keeping it moisturized and healthy while you’re using powerful turnover-boosting Actives.


Lock in moisture with our cult-favorite vitamin C face oil while boosting skin elasticity and the look of discoloration. This formula also includes Damascus rose extract to soothe and nourish, chios crystal oil for bounce, and sugarcane-derived squalane to help active ingredients penetrate while sealing in moisture.


Soothe and moisturize with our 100% Squalane Oil — a molecular match for the moisture naturally found in human skin. It’s also pregnancy-safe and fragrance-free, making it the perfect gift for that mom-to-be who needs deep hydration from head to toe.

Christine Tusher
Christine Tusher Writer and expert
As a lifestyle writer and journalist, I love sharing my passion for ocean conservation and obsession with clean beauty. I’ve tried almost every trend and ingredient, and Biossance’s science-backed formulas are the only ones that consistently calm my reactive skin and make it smoother, clearer, and healthier. I’m so excited to be on this journey of skincare innovation with Biossance, and to share it with you!

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