How to Improve Skin Texture
15 minutes read
For most people, the perfect skin texture is smooth and supple without lumps or bumps. But textured skin on cheeks, faces, and bodies is incredibly common, leaving many of us searching for the secret to seriously smooth skin.
Ranges in texture and tone are perfectly normal, and chasing a perfectly poreless complexion is an impossible dream. However, there are several reasons your skin texture may be rough to the touch, bumpy or coarse-looking, and getting to the bottom of the cause of your skin texture issues means you can start addressing the problem and improve the appearance.
Textured skin can make some people self-conscious, so we give you the tips and tricks to understand this phenomenon and fix and prevent lumpy, bumpy skin.
What causes uneven skin texture?
There are many reasons your skin texture may be uneven. It’s just as common as uneven skin tone, and common complaints include bumps, scars, ‘orange peel’ skin, dry or rough patches, and enlarged pores. It doesn’t discriminate and can be an issue for skin types across the spectrum.
Skin types and skin conditions
Certain skin conditions, including those brought on by hormonal imbalances and genetics, can contribute to texture changes. Understanding common skin conditions will help you know whether your uneven skin texture is normal or not.
In oily skin, pores can become enlarged and clogged because of the increased sebum (oil) production, leading to the appearance of blackheads. Acne will often leave blocked pores, bumpy scars and hyperpigmentation in its wake. It’s best to know how to balance oily skin, so you can settle it down before any treatment plan begins.
Dry skin lacks lipids, so the protective barrier atop your skin is compromised, leading to a rough, coarse texture. The problem with drier skin is that it won’t absorb the products as well – so you’d benefit from a dry skin regimen to address the underlying issues.
More serious skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis can cause the skin to become inflamed and scaly with dry patches, while rosacea may cause little bumps and skin thickening. Therefore, sufferers should always seek out the advice of a dermatologist who can tailor a treatment to your specific need.
Other causes of skin texture changes
Besides these above-mentioned skin types and conditions, most people will experience textured skin at once in their lifetime, but for various reasons:
Dead skin cells that can build on the skin’s surface are significant culprits in uneven skin texture, causing it to feel rough or coarse to the touch.
Slower skin cell turnover as we age can cause our skin to look dull and coarse.
Environmental stressors — such as UV damage from sun exposure, pollution and exposure to cigarette smoke — wreak havoc on skin texture. UV light can damage its DNA and hinder its ability to repair. This can accelerate skin ageing and result in textured skin. Free radical damage can also stress the skin, resulting in uneven skin texture. This is a problem for people who live in polluted, city environments – so arming yourself with the pollutants you should watch out for is key to smooth, healthy skin success.
In most cases, textured skin is painless and harmless, but it can be a symptom of something more serious, so, always reach out to a medical professional if concerned.
12 ways to improve skin texture
1. Cleanse thoroughly
Regular cleansing helps improve skin texture by promoting cell turnover and removing dead skin cells. It clears dirt, oil, sweat, and other impurities from the skin’s surface. Keeping pores clear helps to prevent congestion and clogging with sebum and dead skin cells, which can lead to acne and other skin issues.
When to cleanse
Be sure to cleanse each evening thoroughly before your head hits the pillow so you remove make-up, sunscreen, pollution and other impurities that have accumulated throughout the day.
And cleanse in the morning to remove any oil or sweat accumulated on the skin overnight. Then apply your skin treatments.
How to cleanse
Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that is appropriate for your skin type. Harsh cleansers can strip the skin of natural oils and cause dryness and irritation. It is also important to avoid over-cleansing, as this can lead to skin sensitivity and inflammation.
Our recommended cleansing routine:
PM: For best results, we recommend a double cleansing method. Start with an oil-based cleanser or balm cleanser to properly break down make-up and sunscreen, then follow up with a water-based cleanser.
AM: Use your water-based cleanser to remove the night’s residue.
Uneven, rough or bumpy skin texture can come from dead skin cells that have built up on the skin’s surface. Exfoliation will effectively slough away this build-up and increase cell turnover. But don’t rub yourself up the wrong way – it’s key to learn how to exfoliate your skin like a professional.
Avoid harsh, physical scrubs. Instead, look for gentle exfoliants that won’t irk your skin. Follow usage instructions, but most people with normal skin should use scrubs about twice a week.
Alternatively, opt for a chemical exfoliant containing glycolic acid, or lactic or malic acid (AHAs). Rather than physical exfoliation, these ingredients dissolve the bonds between the dead skin cells and living skin, causing them to flake off.
If you have acne-prone skin, look for ingredients like blemish-busting salicylic acid (BHA) to help unclog pores.
Caution: Remember that over-exfoliating can strip away your protective skin barrier, irritating the skin and leading to dehydration. This can, in turn, cause rebound oil overproduction as the skin tries to rebuild the barrier. So please don’t overdo it.
If you’re looking for something more potent than an at-home exfoliator, then perhaps it might be time to try a peel. The new gentle, professional peels powerfully slough away dead skin cells without too much downtime and they are individually tailored to your skin type and age.
Use a moisturiser suitable for your skin type for best results. Oily skin types, for instance, should use lightweight, oil-free formulas that hydrate the skin (remember, oily skin still needs water!) without clogging pores or causing breakouts. Those with drier complexions can reach for creams packed with richer, more emollient ingredients that nourish and comfort the skin.
Look for moisturisers that contain thirst-quenching ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water in your skin. We’d suggest opting for a light-weight textured moisturiser, suitable for all skin types.
4. Wear sunscreen
Sun damage is among the most common causes of skin damage and premature ageing, including textured skin. This is because UV light penetrates the skin, causing damage to skin structures such as collagen and elastin and keratinocytes (skin cells), leading to dryness and roughness.
You can help prevent these skin changes by avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen. Always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to wear daily to protect against UV rays and five types of pollution. Studies have shown that daily sunscreen use can slow visible signs of ageing. And remember to cover up when you step out into the sunshine.
5. Vitamin C
A firm favourite amongst dermatologists and skincare enthusiasts, this powerful ingredient is proven to slow early skin ageing. Numerous studies have also shown vitamin C to help to even-out skin tone, reduce hyperpigmentation, and improve skin texture. It does this by:
· Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. The potent antioxidant action tackles free radicals such as air pollution and their damaging effects on the skin.
· Boosting collagen production in the skin.
· Increasing cell turnover.
The result? A smoother texture and reduced fine lines, reduced scar tissue and pigmentation.
Use your vitamin C product in the morning for optimal efficacy, as it can help to protect the skin from environmental stressors like pollution and UV rays. It will also help boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen against sun damage and give your skin a radiant glow.
Caution: Some skin types may experience mild irritation or sensitivity when first using vitamin C, so do a patch test before using it. Use it every second day until it has become accustomed to the ingredient.
6. Retinol or retinol alternatives
Many professionals consider retinoids (vitamin-A derivatives – the most well-known being retinol) the gold standard for treating skin texture. It complements the action of vitamin C but should not be used simultaneously (use retinol at night and vitamin C in the morning).
This wonder ingredient works by increasing cell turnover, boosting collagen production in the skin, and helping regulate oil production. And the result of continuous use of retinol? A smoother texture, reduction in fine lines, improved skin tone, diminished dark spots and normalised oil production.
Caution: When introducing retinol to your routine, tread lightly and only use it once or twice a week not to irritate the skin. Build up use as your skin becomes acclimatised.
Use it only at night, and daily use of sunscreen is a non-negotiable, especially if your skin is sensitive, as retinol makes it photosensitive. It’s not advised to use retinoids while you’re pregnant.
For those who have sensitive skin, are pregnant, or prefer to use gentler but just as effective ingredients, there are alternatives, such as harungana and bakuchiol. These have excellent skin tolerance.
Harungana, a Madagascan plant ingredient, is shown to be 40% more effective than retinol, and it is found in Clarins’ Super Restorative Range. It helps cells regenerate and accelerates skin cell turnover – hence the shedding – revealing a brighter complexion and reduced appearance of hyperpigmentation.
If you are pregnant, this dedicated list of pregnancy-safe skincare will help you weave through the myriad of products and formulations out there.
Dermarollers entered our beauty vocabulary and arsenal in the 1990s, and these needle-covered-roller tools are excellent for refining skin texture.
Professional dermarollers are the more heavy-duty version. When rolled over the skin, they puncture the surface (a bit like aerating your lawn), causing mild, controlled injury in the skin. This jump-starts the healing process, causing collagen induction.
Essentially, it’s a turbo boost for skin regeneration, as it lights a fire underneath your collagen and elastin production. It is particularly recommended for those with acne scarring, and it is great for targeting fine lines. The minute holes it creates allow your products to penetrate the skin more deeply.
At-home dermarollers have shorter, finer needles for home use for safety reasons. They’ll be used without professional supervision, so they only penetrate the skin superficially, so results may take longer. Follow usage instructions meticulously and be very gentle when using your roller. It’s your delicate skin you’re working with, after all.
Caution: If you have active acne or a skin condition that can spread quickly, you should steer clear and seek professional help. Be sure to retire your retinol for at least five days before embarking on a dermarolling session. And clean your roller every time you use it.
8. Professional treatments
While many at-home treatments are brilliant at tackling milder cases of uneven skin texture, those with more significant issues can take it to professionals.
Laser and light therapy
Treatments that use both heat (thermal devices like laser) and LED light (such as IPL, blue light and red-light therapy) can help to improve skin tone and texture. Like the dermaroller, they cause minimal and controlled damage to your skin and stimulate your body’s natural healing process.
Fractional resurfacing devices like Fraxel are ideal for treating deeper textural problems, such as acne scars and sun damage.
IPL targets the deeper layers of the skin, stimulating collagen production and improving skin texture. In addition, if you don’t know the benefits of red-light therapy, here are the basics: blue light therapy effectively treats acne, while red and near-infrared light has anti-inflammatory, collagen- and elastin-stimulating effects.
If you’re looking for something more potent than an at-home exfoliator, it may be time to try a peel. The new, gentler, professional peels have a strong action that sloughs away dead skin cells without too much downtime, and they are individually tailored to your skin type and age.
A skincare professional will determine the type and strength you should have, depending on your problem, the results you want, and your skin type. Each will have different downtime associated with it. Some of the peels you can expect to find include:
Superficial Peels: the mildest type, which address fine lines, mild acne, and uneven skin tone. They typically use AHAs or BHAs and are safe for most skin types. There’s little to no downtime.
Medium Peels: these typically use trichloroacetic (TCA) or glycolic acid. They are used for deeper wrinkles, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation. Downtime may include redness, swelling, and peeling for about a week, and skin may appear pink or brown for several weeks.
Deep Peels: these are used for deep wrinkles, significant sun damage, and scarring. Phenol or high-concentration TCA are used mainly. There is substantial downtime with redness, swelling, and peeling for a couple of weeks, and skin may appear red or brown for several weeks.
Or… you could achieve the power of a professional-grade peel at home, which is suitable for all skins except sensitive types. It contains highly concentrated AHAs/BHAs, but unlike a professional peel, it is designed to be used as a 30-day course, so the effect is gentler and cumulative. Usage instructions should be followed strictly.
9. Seasonal skincare
Seasonal changes can affect our skin’s hydration, oil production, and overall texture. This means it’s important to adjust your skincare routine to suit your skin’s seasonal needs:
Winter: Studies have shown that winter conditions can cause the skin to dry out and become more textured. Blame it on colder, dry air, windchill and central heating, which can lead to dry, itchy, and irritated skin.
To combat this, develop a winter skincare routine containing rich, emollient formulas for when temperatures drop. Ingredients to seek out include nourishing shea butter, jojoba oil, and squalane.
Combine hydrating and protecting ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerine, which help to lock in moisture and keep the skin hydrated. Facial oils are also great for nourishing and protecting your skin.
Spring: This is a time of transition, with milder temperatures and increased humidity. Time to switch to lighter, more hydrating products with antioxidants, which help to protect the skin from environmental damage and brighten the complexion.
Summer: Heat and humidity (depending on where you live), can lead to increased oil production and breakouts. Choose lightweight, oil-free products that won’t clog pores or contribute to acne. Don’t forget to use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Autumn: This season’s cooler temperatures and lower humidity means you can switch to more moisturising products again but continue using broad-spectrum sunscreen.
10. Stay hydrated
This is a piece of advice that we can’t repeat enough. Keeping hydrated is essential to good health, studies have shown that people who drink less water report dryness and roughness in their skin.
Hydration is vital for skin cells to be able to function optimally. If we don’t drink enough water, dehydration can lead to dry, flaky, rough skin, increased wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and a dull complexion. It can also exacerbate issues like eczema and psoriasis.
On the other hand, maintaining properly hydration, keeps our skin hydrated and supple, with improved skin texture and appearance. Compare a fresh, plump prune and a dried prune – it’s a pretty good analogue for what’s happening in your skin when dehydrated. So, make a refillable water bottle a handbag staple, and, more importantly, use it.
11. Supplement support
Good health starts from the inside out. Several nutrients are especially important for our skin’s health and texture, so ensuring we keep the skin in adequate supply will help us to achieve a smoother, more even and radiant complexion.
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A deficiency can lead to dry, rough, and scaly skin. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, and it’s important for skin firmness and elasticity.
Tip: Combine vitamin C with vitamin E. When used together, they help to enhance each other’s antioxidant properties by recycling one another, so you have continuous antioxidant activity in the skin.
A lack of vitamin A can contribute to thin skin and prone to wrinkles. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is an important skin nutrient as it helps to improve its texture and overall health. In addition, it strengthens the skin barrier function, has anti-inflammatory properties, boosts the production of collagen, helps to normalise sebum production, and more.
As we age, our body’s collagen production slows down, and this protein is essential for maintaining skin elasticity, plumpness and overall skin texture. Collagen supplements are designed to support the body’s production of collagen. Other vitamins and minerals are also crucial for healthy skin. Zinc, for instance, helps with wound healing and reduces inflammation.
Try to maintain a healthy, varied diet with plenty of colourful fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fats. If this is difficult for you, incorporate a good-quality nutritional supplement into your daily nutrition.
12. Manage stress
Often much easier said than done, managing stress is an integral part of staying healthy, and studies have shown a correlation between stress and the health of our skin. There’s even a term for it — inflammaging!
Our skin also detects heat, cold, pain, and external stressors, such as pollution, UV radiation, and harsh skincare products, which can damage the skin and contribute to premature ageing, hyperpigmentation, and other issues.
Internal stressors, such as anxiety, depression, or hormonal imbalances, can affect the body’s natural processes. For example, it can trigger the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can lead to inflammation, contributing to a range of skin issues, including dryness and irritation, acne, rosacea and eczema or psoriasis flare-ups. And the body redirects resources away from the skin to cope with the stress, so the skin is short-changed when it comes to nourishment. Stress can also compromise the barrier function, causing the skin to become dry, dull, and flaky.
Take time for self-care, research strategies, and coping mechanisms to help you handle the pressure and better manage your stress. For example, practising mindfulness techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. Engaging in regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy, balanced diet can also help to reduce stress levels and promote overall skin health.
There are also various skincare products and treatments that can help protect the skin from the effects of stress. Use gentle, non-irritating skincare products to help to minimise inflammation and irritation.
Once you’ve determined the source of your textured skin, implementing the right advice should set you on the road to a smoother complexion.