If you’re a skincare devotee, you probably have your regimen down to a science and have found a good groove with your skin routine, finally. After years of familiarizing yourself with your complexion, you know which products and treatments to rely on when any of your usual skin predicaments arise, be it breakouts, wrinkles, discoloration, or something else entirely. But sometimes skin has a way of presenting new issues you didn’t even know existed, let alone something you might currently be experiencing. For instance, uneven skin texture. Nope, we’re not talking about uneven skin tone, which deals with the pigmentation of your skin, but rather the feel or smoothness of your overall complexion. Although it might not be as well-known or talked about, uneven texture is just as common as an uneven tone.
"Uneven skin texture is commonly a result of excess dead skin cells that build up on the surface of the skin," explains cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, MD. "This can make areas of the skin feel rough or bumpy to the touch and can also give the skin a dull appearance." As for how it happens, there are a number of potential factors.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and owner of PFRANKMD. Frank has published a book on aging, consults for Madonna's skincare line, and sits on many dermatology advisory boards.
"In addition to dead skin cell buildup, chronic sun exposure can also play a big role in uneven skin texture and pore-size irregularity," he says. "Natural aging of the skin will also make the skin look duller. Factors such as smoking may also contribute, and other skin conditions such as eczema and dry skin can severely affect skin tone and texture."
Frank guesses that the reason uneven texture isn't as buzzy as uneven skin tone comes down to the ability to treat it—those who deal with chronic texture issues will see the best results with laser treatments. But there are a few ways to get a more even skin surface without expensive lasers or even at the comfort of your own home. Keep reading for a seven-step guide to smoothing out your face once and for all.
Exfoliate to Smooth It Out
If skin cell buildup is the issue, remedying the situation could be as simple as sloughing those dead cells away. Make sure you're exfoliating twice a week with a dedicated scrub, sonic cleaning brush, or chemical exfoliant, and target the areas that feel uneven.
This all being said, it's worth noting that physical exfoliation products that are too abrasive—or using them too often, for that matter—can cause oil overproduction and micro-tears in your skin, which will only exacerbate your texture issues. Stick with formulas that use spherical particles (no jagged edges) and make sure you abide by that twice-a-week rule. We're partial to the Kypris Deep Forest Clay Mask ($105), which doubles as a gentle scrub and smells like the Pacific Northwest. The alternative is to ditch scrubs altogether in favor of chemical exfoliants, a gentler option that allows for more consistent results.
Try a Chemical Peel or Exfoliant
As you get older, your body has a harder time than it once did shedding dead skin cells. When your skin hangs onto those dead skin cells, you're left with a dull, uneven tone and, yep, uneven texture, too. One easy and effective way to quickly shed the top layer of skin is with a chemical peel. There are many different types and strengths depending on the results you want and your skin type, so when it comes to a chemical peel, schedule an in-office treatment and leave it in the hands of a professional to prevent any mishaps or accidental chemical burns (ouch).
If you don’t have time (or the funds) to get a peel at your dermatologist’s office, use an at-home mask to do the trick, such as the European Wax Center Reveal Me Face Exfoliating Gel Mask ($21). Not only is this formula naturally derived from fruit extracts, which eliminate dry skin, but it’s also lightweight and gentle. The non-abrasive exfoliating mask helps remove dull skin and rough texture and will leave your complexion looking radiant.
Apply Oil to the Area
If the texture on the majority of your face is smooth, but the area around or on the sides of your nose is a little rough due to blackheads, you might consider an oil treatment. As counterintuitive as it might sound, the more you strip your skin of its natural oils, the more your skin will produce oils to compensate. In keeping with the philosophy that oil-based products are best for regulating sebum production, your textured, blackhead-speckled nose would experience less buildup with the regular use of facial oil. We recommend the Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Balancing Facial Oil ($72), which contains blue tansy (an antibacterial) and kukui nut oil (to balance oil production). Dab a bit of the oil on your T-zone, paying particular attention to your nose area, and over time the texture of your nose with smooth out with the rest of your skin.
Stock up on Vitamin C
One key ingredient for evening out skin tone also works to smooth out uneven texture. As skincare guru Ling Chan explains it, "adding vitamin C to your skincare routine will help improve skin texture by providing a powerful antioxidant to repair and defend the skin from environmental damage and restore suppleness while reducing pigmentation, scar tissue, and age spots." That defense is key if you want to avoid more texture problems down the line. We love SkinCeuticals's C E Ferulic ($166), which uses a blend of L-ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C), alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), and ferulic acid (an antioxidant) to improve the texture of fine lines and wrinkles.
Meet the Expert
Ling Chan is a holistic esthetician and founder of the skincare line Ling New York. She specializes in the mind, body, and spirit connection through her practice and products.
Always Wear SPF
As Frank explained, sun exposure can cause uneven skin texture and pore-size, so taking the proper precautions to protect your skin with a minimum of SPF 30 when you're outside can prevent further damage down the line. We like Tatcha's Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen ($65). Add this to the endless laundry list of reasons that protecting your skin from the sun should always be your first priority.
Address Your Existing Scars
Part of tackling uneven skin texture is all about maintenance. Whether you have a new or existing scar, it’s important to diminish its appearance—especially those pesky ones that have a raised, discolored texture. With regular use, this refreshing, oil-free Derma E Scar Gel ($20) that’s filled with good-for-skin botanical extracts actually helps soften, smooth, and diminish the appearance of scars—but you have to be diligent to see results. Use a small amount two to three times a day and you’ll notice an improvement in as little as two months.
Get a Micro-Needling Treatment
Micro-needling is a favorite among beauty editors because of the quick and noticeable results for scarring and general uneven texture. Just like the name says, the process requires the use of small needles to create tiny punctures in the skin. These micro-injuries cause your skin to go into repair mode, which increases its collagen production and reduces the appearance of pores, acne scars, and fine lines for a smoother texture overall. It also allows for better absorption, which means your skincare products will work more effectively following a treatment, too. Though you'll see greater results from an in-office micro-needling treatment, which uses an oscillating derma-pen that allows for deeper penetration of the epidermis (the outer layer of skin), you can also try using an at-home device in a similar process called derma-rolling.
We recommend trying the Stacked Skincare Micro-Roller ($30). Use it at home once a month up to a couple of times a week, based on your skin type and your skin's needs. To use a derma-roller, gently glide it across your skin in all directions to cover the entire area. Follow it with hydrating serums, and your complexion will be noticeably smoother and plumper than before.
This post was originally published on an earlier date and has been updated.