Here’s What Derms Want You To Know About “Dead Skin Cleansers”

Here’s What Derms Want You To Know About “Dead Skin Cleansers” featured image
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As lovers of beauty, we’re always consulting the internet for all the newest trends from skin care to hair care and everything in between. In recent years, keeping up with all things skin care has been all the rage for celebrities and influencers and everyone in between. We’re all looking for the best of the best products to give us glowing skin, and a recent Spate study has shown that the latest skin-care trend taking over the internet search bar is that of “dead skin cleansers”.

Spate revealed that the term “dead skin cleanser” yields an average of 14.9k searches every month and has seen an 112% increase in search volume over the last year. Though the study did acknowledge the similarity between dead skin cleansers and classic exfoliants, we consulted some of our expert dermatologists to get the inside scoop on what we should know about the “new”, viral product category before we add to cart.

In the age of social media and online shopping, it’s overwhelmingly easy to find ourselves drawn to purchasing new, trending products, oftentimes without fulling knowing what we’re getting in to. With the rise of “dead skin cleansers,” this could likely be the case. When we presented the concept to our dermatologists, the overarching consensus is that the term “dead skin cleanser” is essentially another way of saying exfoliant, but its implications are more complicated.

As Houston dermatologist Jennifer Segal, MD explains, “exfoliation removes the outermost layer of skin, which is comprised of dead skin cells,” but that there are certain cleansers that contain microbeads and provide mechanical exfoliation and removal of dead skin cells while cleansing, which is where she hypothesizes the term “dead skin cleansers” might come from. Furthering Dr. Segal’s idea and also highlighting an important distinction in cleansing and exfoliating, New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD explains that “though there are exfoliating cleansers which exfoliate the dead skin and then cleanse, normal cleansers will not help the shedding of the dead skin.”

“As a dermatologist, I would never use the term ‘dead skin cleansers,'” says New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD. Dr. Peredo’s opinion is one many of our derms share as the term “dead skin cleanser” moreso refers to the process of exfoliating the skin, not cleansing it, which could lead to confusion on the end of the patient or consumer. For Dr. Peredo, what’s most important for patients to understand in the ever-changing jargon of social media and skin care is that of the differences between cleansers and exfoliants.

“A cleanser helps to remove dirt, makeup and impurities by cleaning the skin, while an exfoliator removes dead skin cells that can clog pores,” she begins. “Using an exfoliator is a more efficient way of cleansing your skin and helps with absorption of other products.” Dr. Peredo continues on to further emphasize the benefits of exfoliating in terms of acne prevention and creating radiant looking skin, but she does caution that, as in all things, moderation is key. “Exfoliators can cause skin irritation, redness, bumps and dry skin. It is important to moisturize after and if you have sensitive skin, use a gentle exfoliator. Make sure not to over-exfoliate; exfoliating a few times a week is ideal.”

If we’ve learned one thing from years of watching trends come and go on social media, it’s that you shouldn’t always jump on board with everything you see or hear, especially when it comes to something as sensitive as your skin. Thankfully, we can always count on our trusted doctors to help guide us through the ever-changing world of skin care in the age of social media.

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