How to Get Rid of Dead Skin on Your Face

How to Get Rid of Dead Skin on Your Face

There’s nothing more irritating than flaky and dry skin. But before you grab the pumice stone and scrub away, take a breath. There are easier (and safer) ways to solve flaky skin.

To refresh your skin, you need a two-prong approach—one that sloughs off dead skin cells and improves skin texture.

DO: Use Chemical Exfoliants

First things first—if you’re trying to achieve brighter-looking skin, you need to get rid of those accumulated dead skin cells. Wondering how to remove dead cells on the face and soothe rough skin? Your safest bet is with chemical exfoliants.

A collection of acids, a chemical face exfoliator weakens the bonds between skin cells to help shed dead skin and leaves you with glowing skin.1 Some pack a powerful punch, but gentler varieties actually work better for dead skin removal. More powerful acids can end up drying out the skin, leaving you with even more flakes and dull skin.

For healthy-looking skin, start with an alpha-hydroxy acid (or AHA). A few types of exfoliating solutions to consider for your bathroom shelf include:

  • Lactic acid – One of the most gentle AHA’s, lactic acid is a humectant and exfoliant.2 This molecule draws water to the skin while encouraging dead skin cells to shed through chemical exfoliation. It’s safe enough to use during the day, which is why we include lactic acid in our glow-boosting Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic. Be sure not to use it on the same day as another exfoliator, however, and ensure you apply SPF if used in the morning.

  • Glycolic acid – A popular chemical exfoliant choice, this powerful AHA not only exfoliates dead skin, but it can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and blemishes. If you prefer weekly over daily exfoliation (or a more powerful formula), look for a glycolic acid mask to help brighten the look of your skin.

DON’T: Use Mechanical Exfoliants (Mostly)

When you think “exfoliant”, you might imagine scrubs, beaded cleansers, and even rough towels. That’s what we call mechanical (or physical) exfoliants. Mechanical exfoliation works by physically removing dead skin, rather than dissolving it.

Common types include:

  • Microbeads
  • Natural granules (crystals, sugars, etc.)
  • Textured fabric
  • Blades
  • Brushes
  • Sponges & loofahs

While this can be effective, physical exfoliants can pose skin risks, especially if you have sensitive skin. Large crystals, sharp edges, or rough surfaces can micro-tear the skin and invite irritation, even infection.3

DO: Moisturize Thoroughly

The next best thing you can do after exfoliation? Moisturize.

Moisture is the crux of healthy-looking skin in any skin care routine. By attracting and sealing moisture into the skin, you help bolster your skin barrier (the precious top layer that guards against environmental pollutants, UV damage, and allergens) and decrease the likelihood of dry patches.4

To prevent future flakiness and other skin concerns, you need a daily moisturizer and hydrating skincare ingredients like:

  • Hyaluronic acid – The holy grail of humectants, hyaluronic acid is renowned for its water-attracting properties. This molecule sponges up water to boost skin moisture and is also known for its anti-aging powers.5

  • Glycerin – Another humectant, glycerin draws water to the skin to moisturize and hydrate the skin.

  • Squalane – A variant of natural squalene, squalane seals moisture into the skin. For peak moisture, try a squalane-humectant formula like our Overnight Glow Dark Spot Cream. With squalane and glycerin, your skin can look smoother and feel more supple.

DON’T: Carelessly Cleanse

Even more dry skin types need daily cleansing. But to keep those flakes at bay, you should adopt soothing face washing techniques into your skin care routine. Ditch that “squeaky clean” feeling and try these dermatologist-approved face wash tips instead:6

  • Use lukewarm water – Hot water can strip your skin’s natural oils, which can leave you with drier skin. It’s best to stick with warm water when cleansing your face.

  • Gently cleanse – Harsh cleansers and scrubbing can dry out your skin, so avoid products that include ingredients like alcohols, sulfates, and cleanse gently. Be sure to also use gentle formulas with hydrating ingredients (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin).

  • Choose microfiber cloths – Put down the terrycloth. Rough washcloths can over-exfoliate your skin. Microfiber cloths are the best tool for drying your face after cleansing.

Call on REN to Help With Your Skin Renewal

From dehydration to damage, skin dryness can leave you with dull, irritated skin. But by using these tips for how to get dry skin off your face, you can achieve and maintain brighter-looking skin all year long.

Want to take that inner glow to the next level?

REN Clean Skincare has you covered. From daily face exfoliators to body scrubs, our clean products can help keep your skin feel more hydrated while keeping the environment safe. Join our journey towards healthy-looking skin and a healthier planet by exploring our collections today.

About the Author

Camille Poggi is a doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD.) and is passionate about skincare and how the skin works in general. She specializes in the cosmetic industry and worked for renowned companies in France like L’Oréal and Chanel before moving to London. After being a training manager for 4 years, Camille is at ease with explaining how products work in the skin and how to adapt her speech according to the audience.

She joined REN in January 2020 as International Training Manager and moved to the Research & Development team earlier this year to be the new Scientific Education Manager. A tailored-made role where she assesses and leads all technical communication and ensures scientific compliance is always met. She’s also involved in new product development from the earliest stages. Finding a way to create sustainable skincare products and making sure the message is properly delivered and understood is definitely a big challenge but also her favorite part working for REN.


  1. Healthline. A Guide to the Confusing World of Face Acids and Which Ones to Use.
  2. Verywell Health. Lactic Acid Skin Care: Benefits and Side Effects.
  3. Insider. How to Exfoliate Your Face and Body Safely, According to a Dermatologist.
  4. NCBI. Skin barrier function.
  5. NCBI. Efficacy of a New Topical Nano-hyaluronic Acid in Humans.
  6. American Academy of Dermatology. FACE WASHING 101.
  7. Australian Government: Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment. Plastic microbeads - DAWE.
  8. Byrdie. Here's Why Dermatologists Say Alpha Hydroxy Acids Are the Best Exfoliant.
  9. Healthline. Is Glycerin Good for Your Face and Skin?