Life Extension Magazine®

Woman admiring skin after exfoliating with salicylic acid

Remove Dead Skin Cells

Dead cells and impurities on the skin’s surface clog pores, create blemishes, and cause a dull, uneven appearance. A facial mask containing zinc, sulfur, camphor, and salicylic acid provides unique exfoliating and deep-cleansing effects.

Scientifically reviewed by: Andrew Roberts Jr., MPH in Global Health, MS in Medical Health, in August 2023. Written by: Robert Goldfaden and Gary Goldfaden.

With age, dead cells accumulate on our skin’s surface.

As time passes, they build up and clog pores, contribute to inflammation, and cause blemishes that create a dull and uneven outward appearance.

Some people go to dermatogists for aggressive microdermabrasion to remove dead cells on the skin’s surface, or use topical fruit acids as exfoliants.

A new approach utilizing four compounds—zinc oxide, sulfur, camphor, and salicylic acid—gently exfoliates and deeply purifies clogged pores, clearing them of stubborn dirt, excessive oils, and cellular debris.

When applied to blemish-prone skin as a mask, the result is a soothing and calming effect accompanied by a clearer complexion.

Concept of Skin Detoxification

Woman having face cleaned

Every day, our skin is exposed to environmental toxins like soot, exhaust fumes, and cigarette smoke. When you factor in the increased use of cosmetics with synthetic chemicals, our skin is absorbing toxins at an alarming rate that overloads its own detoxification system.

As toxins accumulate, the skin begins to lose its youthful, vibrant glow and becomes dull and lifeless. Toxic buildup imposes an unfavorable environment of inflammation and oxidative stress in the skin that impairs cellular rejuvenation, forms blemishes like blackheads, and clogs tiny hair follicle openings, known as pores. This is noteworthy since clean and healthy pores produce an oily substance called sebum that protects, softens, and moisturizes the surface of the skin.1-3

Chronic sun exposure can exacerbate clogged pores. Ultraviolet rays also accelerate the breakdown of the structural proteins collagen and elastin, causing pores to lose elasticity and become enlarged.4,5 This provides more areas for additional debris such as dust, dirt, and pollen to accumulate.

Researchers have zeroed in on four compounds that exhibit exfoliating and detoxifying actions to remove deeply embedded impurities trapped in clogged pores, resulting in improved skin appearance.

What you need to know

Facial Mask Reveals Rejuvenated Complexion

  • Accumulation of dead cells and impurities on the skin’s surface combines with excess sebum (oil) to cause clogged pores, inflammation, and unsightly blemishes like blackheads.
  • Environmental stressors such as sun exposure stimulate excess sebum output that enlarges facial pore size.
  • Zinc oxide eases inflammation, thereby healing blemishes and calming redness associated with clogged pores, as well as suppressing sebum production to help eliminate oily skin.
  • Sulfur exhibits exfoliating properties that decongest clogged pores, reducing their size, to improve the tone and texture of the skin.
  • Camphor significantly increases blood flow to skin to aid in the removal of deeply embedded impurities and toxins, while enhancing the delivery of beneficial nutrients like zinc oxide and sulfur.
  • Salicylic acid exfoliates the outer layer of the skin, clearing the buildup of dead cells and impurities.
  • These compounds have been formulated in a newly designed detox facial mask with a pleasant mint-like smell. When applied to flawed skin, it leaves a smoother, cleaner, and rejuvenated complexion.

Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is a mineral well-known for its role as an essential component of superoxide dismutase—an enzyme that combats oxidative stress in the skin to diminish swelling, calm visible redness, and ease inflammation associated with clogged pores.6-8 By exerting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, zinc oxide protects and repairs the structural integrity of the skin from sun damage, preventing and healing blemishes.9,10

Other research indicates that zinc oxide suppresses excess production of sebum by reducing the activity of sebaceous glands, thereby helping to eliminate oily skin and minimize the appearance of facial pores.11


Woman cleaning face

Sulfur can help in exfoliation by acting on keratinocytes on the outer layer of the skin.12,13

This interaction helps shed the dull, devitalized skin cells from the surface, to reveal newer, smoother skin underneath.12,14

By sloughing off these dead skin cells, the sulfur decongests clogged pores and significantly reduces their size, to improve the tone and texture of your skin.


Camphor is derived from the wood of the camphor tree.

It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its strong anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-nociceptive properties.15,16

When topically applied to the skin, camphor improves blood flow, which may enhance the delivery of vital nutrients like zinc oxide and sulfur, while removing toxins and extracting difficult-to-reach impurities to cleanse clogged pores.17 Additionally, camphor induces a cool, soothing sensation that makes for an ideal feeling after exfoliation.

Salicylic Acid

Woman touching her neck

Salicylic acid is a safe and effective ingredient used to treat various skin conditions. Its ability to exfoliate the outer layer of the skin makes it a good peeling agent.18 Applied topically, it clears the buildup of dead cells and impurities, leaving you with a more radiant complexion.


Impurities and dead cells accumulate on the skin’s surface despite our best efforts to remove all of them. They combine with excess oils and air pollutants to deeply clog pores and create a flawed complexion marked by unsightly blemishes.

A nutrient-rich detox facial mask with a pleasant mint-like scent has been formulated with zinc oxide, sulfur, camphor, and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the skin, regulate oil production, and deeply cleanse clogged pores to leave a smoother, cleaner, and rejuvenated complexion.

Gary Goldfaden, MD, is a clinical dermatologist and lifetime member of the American Academy of Dermatology. He is the founder of Academy Dermatology in Hollywood, FL, and Cosmesis Skin Care. Dr. Goldfaden is a member of the Life Extension® Medical Advisory Board. All Cosmesis products are available online.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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