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 familiar skin predicament arises, 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—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. And although it might not be as well-known or talked about, uneven skin texture is just as common as uneven skin tone.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and the owner of PFRANKMD. Frank has published a book on aging, consults for Madonna's skincare line, and sits on many dermatology advisory boards.
- Ling Chan is a holistic esthetician and the founder of the skincare line Ling New York. She specializes in the mind, body, and spirit connection through her practice and products.
"Uneven skin texture is commonly a result of excess dead skin cells that build up on the surface of the skin," explains Frank. "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 causes.
"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 adds. "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 skin 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 that don't require expensive lasers or having to leave 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.
All that 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 skin damage, 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. The alternative is to ditch scrubs altogether in favor of chemical exfoliants, a gentler option that allows for more consistent results.
We're partial to this mask, which doubles as a gentle scrub and smells like the Pacific Northwest.
Try a Chemical Peel
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 the time (or the funds) to get a peel at your dermatologist's office, use an at-home mask to do the trick. Look for an option that is gentle and nonabrasive to prevent the chance of damaging your skin.
This nonabrasive exfoliating mask helps remove dull skin and rough texture and will leave your complexion looking radiant.
Apply Oil to the Area
If the texture of 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. 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 will smooth out with the rest of your skin.
We recommend Herbivore Botanicals' Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil, which contains kukui nut oil (to balance oil production) and blue tansy (an antibacterial).
Stock Up on Vitamin C
One key ingredient for evening out skin tone also works to smooth out uneven texture. As skincare guru Chan explains, "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 recommend SkinCeuticals's C E Ferulic, 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.
Ferulic acid, or hydroxycinnamic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free-radical damage from pollution, ultraviolet light, and infrared radiation, all of which accelerate skin aging. It's found in the cell wall of plants like oats, brown rice, peanuts, apples, and oranges.
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. Add this to the endless laundry list of reasons that protecting your skin from the sun should always be your first priority.
We like Tatcha's Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen because it doubles as a primer and works for all different skin types.
Address Your Existing Scars
Part of tackling uneven skin texture is 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. Patience is key here, and you have to be diligent to see results. Use a product that is geared toward scar treatment, follow the directions carefully, and you'll likely notice an improvement over the next few months.
With regular use, Derma E's refreshing, oil-free Scar Gel, which is filled with good-for-skin botanical extracts, actually helps soften, smooth, and diminish the appearance of scars.
Get a Microneedling Treatment
Microneedling is a favorite among beauty editors because of its 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 microneedling treatment, which uses an oscillating dermapen 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 dermarolling.
To use a dermaroller, 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.
We recommend trying the StackedSkincare Micro-Roller. Use it at home once a month and work up to a couple of times a week, based on your skin type and your skin's needs.
How can I tell if my skin texture is uneven?
Gently run your finger across your skin. If it's rough or bumpy to the touch, that indicates your skin has an uneven texture.
What determines skin texture?
Anything that can impact your skin's surface condition is what will determine the texture. For example, dry skin from winter months or sun-damaged skin in the summer.
Can my skin's texture change as I get older?
As we age, the epidermis starts to thin. This makes it easier for the layer to become damaged and more textured.
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