Human skin is an amazing organ — protective, waterproof, and exceedingly useful. It’s also constantly changing and regenerating itself. That said, what happens to dead skin cells? You might be a little grossed out to find out where they go and just how many you lose each day.
Your skin is composed of several layers. The layer you can see is called the epidermis. It’s composed of cells made of keratin, a hard substance that also forms your hair and nails. In other species, keratin forms hooves, claws, horns, and even the shells of turtles and the spines of porcupines. The individual cells are called keratinocytes [source: National Geographic].
New keratinocytes grow at the lowest level of the epidermis, which bonds with the next layer, the dermis. The new skin cells gradually push their way to the top layer. When they reach the top, they die and are “weathered” by the environment and your daily activities. The top “dead” layer is called the stratum corneum. Eventually, the dead cells break away from the epidermis and fall off, making room for newer cells growing up from below. It takes roughly one month for new cells to get all the way to the top layer, meaning the skin you have a month from today will be completely new compared to the skin you have now.
Continue Reading: How many skin cells do you shed every day? – HowStuffWorks