Woman applying lotion on her arm.

If you're a skincare enthusiast, you likely have a specific product just to , such as a peeling pad or scrub, depending on your skin type. Sadly, the rest of your body may not be getting the same level of TLC. Removing dead skin cells is an essential step in , too! Keep reading to learn why.

Dead Skin Cells: Friend or Foe?

The body sheds around 500 million particles of skin every day as the epidermis produces a new layer. As you read this sentence, new cells are traveling to the surface, replacing the old ones, so it’s impossible to get rid of dead skin cells from your epidermis completely. In fact, even in death, "retired" skin still has a purpose: to act as a barrier that keeps the skin moist (gasp!).

Dead skin cells, known as corneocytes, make up the outer layer of the skin. With a larger surface area than new cells, they can store more Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF) – amino acids and humectants that make the skin supple and hydrated. According to the , a lack of NMF and skin barrier can cause . That's why over-exfoliation is just as harmful as not exfoliating at all.

Does this mean buying exfoliating products is a waste of money? Definitely not. An accumulation of dead skin cells can be detrimental to skin health. They can block active ingredients and moisture from permeating the skin, depriving it of essential nourishment. Moreover, an extra thick layer of dead skin, such as a , can be painful and difficult to manage.

What Causes Dead Skin Cells to Pile Up?

Healthy skin renews itself every 28 to 40 days. Within this window, the epidermis naturally sloughs dead skin cells – a cycle called desquamation. However, this process can only occur when the skin is in its best condition. And we all know how fussy the skin can be. With factors like , pollution, an unhealthy lifestyle, and age, your skin could use the help.

Do dead skin cells need to be removed? Yes, and it's pretty easy to tell when your body needs exfoliation. Here's what happens when you don't remove dead skin cells.

How to Remove Dead Skin Cells

Your lola might swear by the power of hilod to get rid of dead skin cells and pesky calluses, but let's be real: rubbing a rock against the skin is unpleasant. This OG exfoliator also creates micro-tears that weaken the epidermal barrier and cause irritation, so you may want to skip it. Instead, follow these simple tips on exfoliating your body safely and effectively.

1. Pick an exfoliation method.

Choose between physical and chemical exfoliation. The former refers to scrubbing the outer layer of the skin with rough particles or a textured tool. While effective, some physical exfoliants can be too abrasive for the skin.

If you like the feel of a solid bar, use Dove Bar Gentle Exfoliating, with exfoliating beads that keep your skin soft, smooth, and polished. Meanwhile, for a more pampering shower experience, use Dove Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash, which uses NutriumMoisture technology that penetrates up to 20 layers deep (within the epidermis), for visibly soft, deeply moisturized skin with regular use.

Meanwhile, if your skin is sensitive, look for chemical exfoliants with low concentrations of an . The acids loosen and lift dead skin cells, revealing a brighter and smoother complexion. If it’s your first time, do a patch test or start with a small amount to avoid side effects like .

2. Scrub gently.

Always use a light touch when working with any exfoliant. Make your own with virgin coconut oil and sugar. Make small, circular motions all over your body using your hands or a sponge. For areas with thick and rough skin, like on the elbows, knees, and heels, use short strokes to smooth the surface. Spend 30 seconds on each area. Skip any body parts with cuts, wounds, or inflamed skin. Check out other .

3. Rinse with lukewarm water.

The recommends washing the body – from start to finish – with lukewarm water. It’s not to preserve electricity but to prevent skin irritation. Hot water strips away the skin’s moisture, making it prone to dryness. Cold water, on the other hand, cannot rinse dirt and bacteria properly. So, keep the faucet in the middle the next time you shower.

4. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

When done correctly, exfoliation makes your skin feel smooth and plump. You want this effect to last for hours, even days. Enter body lotion – a crucial step in any body care regimen. Apply a generous amount right after showering when your skin is still damp. Doing this helps your skin absorb the formula better and seals all that hydration.

Do these steps once a week for the best results. Remember that the key is to be gentle with your skin. The goal is not to eliminate all dead skin cells but to remove any excess.