When it comes to skincare, knowledge is power. Now more than ever, everyone—from beauty editors and gurus to the average consumer—is seeking more information about skincare, including education around different skin types, clean product formulations, and supplements and elixirs that promote beauty from within. Whether it’s understanding which products best reduce redness caused by rosacea or how and why you should use a facial serum, we’re becoming our own beauty gurus, educating ourselves and taking the steps toward a glowing complexion. When beginning your skincare journey, your skin is often categorized as one of the following: oily and acne prone, sensitive, combination, dry, or normal. Because I’ve been in the beauty industry for several years and am a self-proclaimed skincare guru, I know my skin type in and out. My skin is the epitome of combination skin (meaning I err on the oiler side in my T zone and am normal to dry in other areas of my face). I also know my skin is paying the price of countless hours spent in the sun. Currently, however, my uneven skin texture is my biggest skincare concern.
A subtle yet noticeable skin condition, uneven skin texture is often seen as an afterthought—it’s not as obvious as a pimple per se. There aren’t many products on the market that directly address the issue, and uneven skin texture is often a result of an amalgamation of stressors. While there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to healing uneven skin texture, I’ve been researching over the last several months to uncover the best practices for treating and preventing rough skin that actually make a drastic difference. I consulted some of my trusted sources to better understand the intricacies of uneven skin texture: Amy Peterson, licensed medical esthetician and founder of Skincare by Amy Peterson, and Jason Emer, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Emerage Skin and Cosmetics.
What is uneven skin texture?
First and foremost, let’s clarify what “skin texture” means and ultimately what constitutes uneven texture. According to Peterson, skin texture is often confused with skin tone. “Uneven skin texture is very different from skin tone, which deals with the pigmentation of your skin,” she says. “The two are often confused. Skin texture is the feel or smoothness of your complexion. A lot of people don’t discuss it, but it is a common problem.” Simply put, uneven skin texture refers to the skin’s surface being rough, bumpy, dull, and dry or having irregular grooves and scars. Emer adds, “Uneven texture can be due to scarring from previous acne or trauma but also from excess dead skin cells that build up on the surface and clog pores or increase oil production. When the pores are clogged, there is increased oil, or there is a build of debris, and if the skin has environmental damage like sun exposure, the skin is less hydrated. The protective barrier gets inflamed and damaged, and this leads to poor production of collagen and elastin.”
Our surroundings play a major role in our skin’s surface, as we are exposed to dirt, chemicals, pollution, and the sun, which wear on the skin over time. Peterson adds, “Rough skin texture is an issue I usually point out in a consultation that clients don’t even know they have.”
Though I am wearing makeup in this photo, if you look closely at my cheek, forehead, and chin, you will see the small bumps or enlarged pores that make up my uneven texture.
Can you fix uneven skin texture?
While uneven skin texture can be genetic, especially if you have hereditary acne, eczema, or rosacea that compromises your skin’s natural barrier, there are remedies to smooth the skin. Of course, there is no one universal solution, but there are multiple steps you can take in the right direction.
“If you want to improve skin texture, you must remove the dead skin cells, and there are plenty of efficient ways to do so. Exfoliating is the classic way, but don’t be too harsh in exfoliation,” Peterson says. Emer adds that the skincare products being used are a great place to start reversing the surface. “Skincare products and routines are essential to keeping the skin texture smooth, clear, and radiant. My normal protocol to keep the skin healthy, radiant, and smooth year-round is to have a daily medical-grade regimen with a vitamin c, glycolic cream in the a.m., a double cleanse (foaming and exfoliating), and a growth factor and stem cell product for barrier repair and collagen production/anti-aging as well as spot treatments for acne or brown spots if you have them.”
Important tip: Remember that the treatment stems directly from the cause of uneven texture. For example, if the cause is dead skin cell buildup, exfoliating is a great place to start. If it’s dryness, a hyaluronic serum would be a smart addition to your routine.
“Ultimately, if you want the fullest reversal possible, it’s going to take an office procedure such as Clear & Brilliant,” reveals Peterson. Emer also suggests regular micro-needling and laser treatments (lighter lasers like the new Sciton Moxi with BBL help remove sun and environmental damage) to exfoliate the skin’s surface and improve texture, scars, color, and tone.
What are the best products for remedying uneven skin texture?
When it comes to uneven skin texture (trust me because I’ve tried everything), it comes down to three things: a strategic skincare routine, consistency, and protecting your skin from environmental stressors when you can. Ahead, discover 18 expert-approved products to use throughout your skincare regimen to improve skin texture and ultimately feel good in your own skin.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser ($75)
Not all exfoliators have to have a rough texture to properly exfoliate. For instance, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s gentle foaming Enzyme Cleanser leaves my skin feeling purified and smooth.
ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish ($71)
According to Peterson, “ZO Skin Health’s Exfoliating Polish works very well, as it is infused with microfine magnesium crystals.”
Emerage Skin Enzymatic Polish ($45)
Formulated by Emer, this enzymatic cleanser is my latest discovery and is now my go-to. Infused with papaya enzymes and five natural AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), this cleanser instantly exfoliates and cleanses the skin without disrupting the skin’s natural moisture—combination skin’s must-have.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel ($38)
I’ve recently gravitated toward cleansing gels as my night cleanser to completely remove dirt and makeup from my face, and I naturally trust all things Dr. Dennis Gross.
SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser ($35)
A simple rule: the purer the pores, the better the texture.
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 Original 1970 ($30)
A year later, I still swear by this miracle in a bottle. There are different formulations of P50 that cater to specific skin types, so be sure to do your research to determine which category you fall under.
Summer Fridays Soft Reset AHA Exfoliating Solution ($54)
I love how crisp and clean my skin feels after I use this toner. It’s definitely less intense than the P50, but it still gives my skin that fresh feeling that I look for in a toner.
SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator ($82)
Another one of Peterson’s recommendations, if you had to buy one serum to integrate into your skincare routine to help heal texture, it should be SkinCeuticals’s Retexturing Activator.
I discovered Emer’s skincare line in April and have used this consistently every single day since, and my skin has never been healthier.
NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex ($60)
Expert tip: When investing in hyaluronic acid, be sure to look for highly concentrated formulas to ensure the acid is in its purest form and is not diluted.
Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum ($88)
If you don’t have a vitamin C serum, start with this one—it’s never too late. Vitamin C serums go beyond aiding in skin texture. They are collagen boosters, are anti-inflammatory, thicken the dermis, minimize fine lines, and are great if you suffer from acne.
Melanie Simon Skincare Serum C ($200)
Though this errs on the expensive side, my golden rule in skincare is that sometimes indulging in a product is the best thing you can do for your skin.
Marie Veronique Vitamins C+E+Ferulic Serum ($90)
Consider this serum your ultimate skin protector.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 ($34)
By now, I’m sure you know everyday sunscreen wear is critical. I love Supergoop!’s Unseen Sunscreen for my face, as it goes on clear and matte and is odorless. Because my skin can skew oily (especially toward the end of the day), the matte look and feeling of this formula really works for me.
IS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30 ($78)
Introducing every dermatologist’s favorite sunscreen for the face.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 ($34)
If I’m looking for a multipurpose product, which I almost always am, I opt for a tinted sunscreen that offers full coverage and protection from the harmful UV rays.
Whimsy Official Glow Getter Collagen Blend ($49)
To say I’m obsessed with Whimsy’s Collagen Blend (and Ceremonial-Grade Matcha) is an understatement. It’s pretty seamless to introduce into your daily wellness routine. I blend it with my morning matcha and continue about my day while it heals my skin from within.
Reserveage Collagen Booster Skin and Joint Supplement ($34)
This product is the ultimate testament to being consistent with your wellness rituals for optimal results. I started taking this every single day back in May and have seen significant changes in my skin’s suppleness, texture, and overall look.