It's no secret we all desire even, radiant skin, but there are many factors that go into this goal and it is not always a smooth ride. The good news is we know how to get you there. Whether you prefer a lightweight tonic, silky serum, moisturizing cream, or device, there are multiple ways to get rid of dry patches and texture. When you’re finished with this list you will be on your way to fresh, glowing, and dewy skin.
When it comes to products that help smooth skin, you’ll want to look for ingredients like salicylic acid, which helps refine pores, AHA’s to exfoliate, hydrating oils, and retinols to improve texture. These active ingredients are formulated to deliver quick results and can easily be incorporated into your skincare routine.
In order to get our routine in tip-top, skin-smoothing shape, we called on a few skincare experts, as well as team Byrdie, to offer their absolute favorites for the purpose of exfoliation, hydration, retexturizing, and evening skin tone.
Below, what to look for plus the best skin-smoothing products on the market now.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Cleanser
Can be drying
Dermatologist Dr. Corey Hartman likes cleansers designed for acne to target smooth skin. You still get the fighting powers (read: actives) but it is on the skin for less time, meaning less chance for irritation. This cleanser from La Roche Posay has two percent salicylic acid to clear blackheads, whiteheads, and breakouts as well as LPA, lipo-hydroxy acids, which are a super gentle exfoliant.
Keeping skin clear of active breakouts is the first step to achieving that smooth, radiant skin you’re after. A daily cleanser is a great tool to both target current acne, but also prevent new breakouts from forming. The downside of a product like this is it can be drying. Be sure to follow up with a hydrating serum or moisturizer, plus SPF in the morning.
Price at time of publish: $19
Size: 6.76 oz | Key Ingredients: BHA
La Prairie Cellular 3-Minute Peel
This spa-worthy peel is just as fun to apply as it is effective. Using a salon-type brush, apply the product to your skin to exfoliate and uncover refreshed skin in just three minutes. This peel is formulated with AHA’s and BHA’s such as Salicylic acid. Rather than cause irritation, it's meant to stimulate the skin's natural repair process, leaving your face silky and velvety smooth. Best results are when applied weekly. We recommend using this peel at night and applying sunscreen in the morning.
Price at time of publish: $285
Size: 1.4 oz | Key Ingredients: AHA, BHA
Undefined R&R Sun Serum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen
No white cast
While a sunscreen may not help in the treatment of texture, it is important for the overall health of your skin. Afterall, you can’t show off your glow, if you’re nursing a sunburn or dark spots. A broad spectrum SPF 30 is the goal, extra credit for the SPF 50 in this formula. The slight tint to the formula prevents leaving a white cast and the texture is like milky consistency, one that’s super easy to spread. This sunscreen also made our list of the best black-owned sunscreens.
The all-zinc oxide formula is great for sensitive skin, plus it is fragrance and dye-free. The addition of niacinamide can help with brightening, too. We love products that are easy to buy—this one is sold at Target, however the price is a bit more of a splurge for the size (compared to what you may be used to spending at the drugstore). We love the formula and think it’s worth every penny.
Price at time of publish: $28
Size: 1.7 oz | Key Ingredients: Zinc oxide, niacinamide
Rose Ingleton MD Retexturing Retinol Booster Serum
Great for all skin types
Very sensitive skin will need to incorporate slowly
If you're new to retinols or usually reactive, try this retexturing booster made with encapsulated retinol to avoid irritation. This light-weight serum contains Rose Ingletons signature Jamaican Superfood blend formulated to deliver key nutrients and antioxidants to skin, while Aloe Vera and watermelon hydrate skin. A little goes a long way with this gentle retinol serum. Apply at night only to cleansed skin and follow with a moisturizer. For very sensitive skin use this 1-2x a week until skin can tolerate it.
Price at time of publish: $70
Size: 1 oz | Key Ingredients: Jamaican Superfood Blend, Retinol, Watermelon Extract
Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream
Comes in a travel-friendly tube
This Skin Smoothing Cream may effectively maintain your skin moisture balance while improving its texture. It contains hyaluronic, mallow, cucumber meant to restore suppleness, deeply hydrate, and leave you with softer, healthier skin for 48 hours. It gets better, grape seed extract, Vitamin C and E are added to protect skin against environmental stressors. This moisturizer is suitable for all skin types and can be applied both morning and night to lock in moisture to avoid trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL).
Price at time of publish: $74
Size: 1.7 oz | Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Complex, Mallow, Cucumber Extract
Best Physical Scrub
Derma E Microdermabrasion Scrub
May be too aggressive for sensitive skin
This super-fine facial scrub mechanically exfoliates skin by buffing away any dullness (while smoothing fine lines, roughness, and acne scars). This formula includes Dead Sea salt as well as lime and lemon peel, grape seed, and vitamin E that may help to retexture skin while leaving it soft, smooth, and thoroughly nourished. Apply to damp skin and massage in circular motions for 1 minute. Gently rinse and reveal a smoother complexion. Use 1-2x a week to maintain supple, glowing skin.
Price at time of publish: $33
Size: 2oz | Key Ingredients: Dead Sea Salt, Volcanic Sand, Lemon Peel
Kiehl's Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion
Easy to use
Not great for sensitive or acne-prone skin
For an immediate skin-smoothing effect, this one's for you. This manual exfoliation is made with micro micronized shells from the Ocean to slough off dead skin cells revealing fresh, renewed skin. According to the brand, with regular tri-weekly use, this formula will visibly minimize discolorations and small marks on your face, hands, and décolletage. Over time, though, facial lines are reduced and your skin's texture will be significantly smoother and clearer.
Price at time of publish: $46
Size: 2.5 oz | Key Ingredients: Micronized Shells, Shea butter, Willow Herb
Best Facial Oil
Herbivore Phoenix Facial Oil
Sits well under makeup
We wish it came in a larger bottle
This vegan, gluten-free, fragrance-free facial oil contains moisture, vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids to support your skin's natural lipid barrier (which helps to lock moisture in and protect against dryness and heat).12 Plus, it absorbs easily and softens, smoothes, and soothes upon contact. Formulated with certified organic oils such as Rosehip, Seabuckthorn, Neroli and Meadowfoam Oil, it is gentle to use both morning and night.
Price at time of publish: $88
Size: 1.7 oz | Key Ingredients: Rosehip Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Chia seed
Best with Lactic Acid
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment
Great for all skin types
A Byrdie-editor favorite, this serum (which feels like a watered-down moisturizer) helps deliver an unreal glow. With lactic acid to speed up cell turnover and exfoliate away dullness and licorice root (an all-natural anti-inflammatory) to fight hyperpigmentation,13 smooth and radiant skin is just a few applications away. Formulated to be your all-in-one skincare treatment you can apply it every night to cleansed damp skin. If your skin is sensitive, apply it as a face mask 1-3 times a week for 10–15 minutes, rinse and moisturize.
Price at time of publish: $122
Size: 1 oz | Key Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Licorice, Aloe Vera
Dermaflash MINI Precison Peach Fuzz Removal Device
Easy to use
It only comes with two refill blades
One way to achieve smooth skin without applying a serum, cream or exfoliant is to use the Dermaflash tool. A gentle and safe at-home device that reveals your smoothest skin in seconds. This tool uses a sonic vibration to assist in exfoliating the top most layer of dead skin cells simultaneously removing peach fuzz. The result is fuzz- free, velvety soft skin. It doesn’t stop there, flip the device over and use the cooling stainless ball to depuff tired eyes and soothe skin. This mini device is great for the full face and can cover small areas such as the lip, eyes and around the brows. Not to worry, your hair will not grow back darker, thicker, faster.
Price at time of publish: $69
Key Ingredients: Stainless Steel, Plastic
MS Skincare Santal Dual Action Cleanser
Gentle for all skin types
Can be a little messy
This anhydrous skin smoother is made with finely milled powder to both cleanse and exfoliate skin. Formulated with oat flour and walnut shells to mechanically exfoliate while papaya and pineapple enzymes slough off dead skin cells, revealing softer fresh skin. Suitable for daily use, this dual action cleanser can be used in a few ways. Pour a small amount of powder into the palm and add a few drops of water making a gentle lather. For a deeper cleanse, add water to make a paste consistency and apply to skin as a mask and rinse after 10 minutes. This exfoliant can also be used as a spot treatment as well.
Price at time of publish: $48
Size: 2 oz | Key Ingredients: Oat Flour, Walnut Shells, Fruit Acids
January Labs Daily Brightening Tonic
Easy to use
Great for all skin types
Can feel a slight tingle in the beginning
This all-in-one tonic is a simple and effective step to bright, smooth skin for every budget. Formulated with lactic acid to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and retain moisture. This tonic consists of witch hazel to remove impurities, aloe to soften and hydrate skin and glycerin to lock in moisture. After you’ve cleaned your skin, add a few drops of this brightening tonic to a cotton pad and gently swipe along the full face and neck. Follow with a moisturizer. This tonic can be used once or twice a day.
Price at time of publish: $32
Size: 2 oz | Key Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Witch Hazel, Fruit Acids
Skin-smoothing products can be found across every category of skincare, and the ingredients that will help deliver glass-like skin vary tremendously. Though that sounds like it could be confusing, it’s actually a good thing—it means that there’s something out there for everyone, regardless of your budget or skin type. Our all-time favorite skin-smoothing formula was La Roche Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser, because the daily face wash can deliver skin clearing benefits without irritating the skin further. Other faves included the iconic Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Peel Pads and Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One AHA Lactic Acid Treatment.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Corey L. Hartman is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama.
- Dr. Geeta Yadav is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Facet Dermatology in Toronto, Canada.
What to Look For in Skin-Smoothing Products
A Variety of Product Types
Don’t limit yourself to just one kind of skincare product—there’s a wide range of options out there to help you achieve your goal of smoother skin. “You can find skin-smoothing products in nearly every format, from cleansers, to serums, moisturizers and more,” says Dr. Hartman.
He’s especially a fan of cleansers for those with acne-prone skin: “They’ll deposit some of the [active] ingredient on the skin to be effective, but are washed away quickly so there is less chance of irritation,” he says.
Serums and leave-on peels are also effective options; often, the molecule size of the ingredients is very small, so they can better penetrate the skin to effect real change in your complexion.
The term “exfoliants” covers a lot of ground. Two of the most familiar exfoliant categories are physical or manual exfoliants—which is just a fancy word for “scrub.” Scrubs can be made of salt, sugar, crushed seeds or shells, or man-made beads, and work by physically sloughing off dead skin.
The most popular type of exfoliant amongst dermatologists are chemical exfoliants, which are usually acids that fall into two categories: Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA). AHAs work at the surface level to remove dead skin cells, while BHAs go into the pore to do the same thing (which is ideal if you have congested pores). “If you have dull skin, products with AHAs like glycolic and lactic acids can be great options,” says Dr. Hartman. “Salicylic acid is a BHA that works well for smoothing skin with acne as it minimizes irritation.” Both are found in the La Prairie Cellular 3-Minute Peel.
You may also come across a term known as “enzymatic exfoliation,” which is basically a chemical exfoliant, but uses enzymes, typically from fruits like papayas and pineapples, to help dissolve the bonds that keep dead cells stuck on the skin’s surface.
Retinoids, which you may have heard of in the form of retinol, are derivatives of vitamin A. Retinol is one of the most multi-talented ingredients in all of skincare: “Retinols regulate cell turnover, promote effective exfoliation, prevent acne, even discoloration, control oil, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, unclog pores, hamper the breakdown of collagen, thicken the deeper layer of skin where wrinkles get their start and stimulate production of collagen and elastin,” lists Dr. Hartman. “My opinion is that nearly everyone should be using a retinoid or a retinol—it is one of the most studied and effective skincare ingredients available.” Try the Rose Ingleton MD Retexturizing Retinol Booster Serum.
What causes bumpy skin texture?
There are a lot of conditions that can cause bumpy skin, including keratosis pilaris, but one of the most common causes is infrequent exfoliation, explains Dr. Yadav.
“Skin needs regular exfoliation to facilitate the cellular turnover process,” she says. “The cellular turnover process is what causes your skin to naturally shed dead cells that build up on the surface, causing roughness, dullness, discoloration, and pore congestion.”
As we age, that process slows down—and by removing those dead cells from the surface yourself, you can help your skin produce new collagen and skin cells for a brighter, firmer, smoother and healthier look.
How can I treat rough and bumpy skin?
A curated skincare routine full of products designed to help you achieve your skin goals will go a long way towards treating rough and bumpy skin. As mentioned, exfoliants are key. “Exfoliants help break down the bonds that keep dead skin cells from shedding and decongest pores,” says Dr. Yadav. Similarly, you need retinoids, as they promote new collagen production.
You may notice that your skin feels drier and tighter—and even appears flaky—when using exfoliants and retinoids, especially at first. That’s normal—just support your skin health with humectants and emollients, which are ingredients commonly found in moisturizers that help rehydrate and soften. “Maintaining moisturized skin while using these potentially dehydrating ingredients is essential to smoother skin,” Dr. Yadav says.
It’s also worth looking for antioxidants, which fight off the free radicals responsible for damaging your skin. Common antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin B3 (aka niacinamide), ferulic acid, and green tea.
How can I improve my skin texture?
Beyond using the ingredients we’ve outlined, there are a few further steps you can take to maintain smooth skin going forward. First of all, never skip your cleansing step. “Cleansing helps keep pores clear and tight in addition to washing away blemish-causing bacteria,” says Dr. Yadav.
Dr. Hartman recommends washing your face twice daily (morning and evening), especially when wearing sunscreen or makeup. “If you feel you need to, you can double cleanse, first by using an oil-based cleanser, and then cleansing again with a water-based cleanser,” he suggests.
Another tip: Drink plenty of water. You’ve heard it before, we know, but it bears repeating. Beyond being important for your body’s function, it helps keep your skin moisturized from the inside out, which makes it look healthier. “Hydrated skin reflects more light and appears smoother,” says Dr. Yadav.
Lastly, wear sunscreen every single day, no excuses. “Sun exposure is the dominant cause of early skin aging,” says Dr. Yadav. “That includes fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores and discoloration, all of which can contribute to a bumpy or rough skin texture.”
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Emily Orofino has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry working across editorial, marketing, product development, and more. She is a major proponent of glycolic acid and sings the praises of chemical peels to anyone who will listen.
Lauren Hackney Behringer has over 10 years of experience as a celebrity aesthetician, laser specialist, health coach, writer, and beauty industry expert. As an aesthetics professional, Lauren has a comprehensive understanding of the latest trends and what is best in beauty. Her expertise includes anti-aging, and acne skincare, beauty devices, supplements, and how nutrition impacts skin health.