If you’ve ever had to deal with rough, bumpy, or dry skin, you’ll know first-hand how frustrating it can be. When skin issues feel out of our control, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong and how to take care of it. To help you find the answers, we tapped an esthetician and a dermatologist for their tips on how to improve skin texture.
But the quest for how to get smooth skin is not without its complications. There are a lot of reasons why our skin’s texture can be rough, making it confusing when trying to figure out the best way to fix it. Diet, genetics, medications, aging, hormones, and more can all lead to changes in skin texture. Personally, I am prone to seasonal allergies, and when they kick up my skin is generally an absolute mess. I’m talking hives, acne, rashes, rough, scaly, dry skin—you name it, it happens. And it can be really demoralizing.
Featured image of Elizabeth Mathis by Michelle Nash.
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Your Expert-Approved Guide to Getting Smooth Skin
Luckily, there are some greatsolutions at hand, and the options keep improving for effective ways to improve your skin’s texture. I spoke to dermatologist Dr. Rafaeloff of Le Jolie Medi Spa and esthetician Kasey Boone of Glow Skincare LA about the causes and treatments for poor skin texture.
Keep reading for their insights on how to improve skin texture and some root issues that can cause problems.
What causes poor skin texture?
Dr. Rafaeloff notes that poor skin texture is often the result of dry skin, a buildup of dead skin cells, nutritional issues, dust, and dirt, as well as a lack of exfoliation—all these can lead to rough or textured skin.
Environmental Versus Genetic Factors
Both Dr. Rafaeloff and Boone say that genetics plays a huge role in our skin’s appearance, but environmental factors also play a part. You aren’t in a prison of skin texture issues, even if it does appear to run in the family. They pointed to stress, diet, lack of sleep, the weather, hormones, and even potentially using the wrong skincare products as reasons for poor skin texture. The good news is, you can definitely work with what your mama gave you to improve your skin texture.
The Link Between Diet and Texture
As we all know, what we put on our insides affects our outsides. Both Boone and Dr. Rafaeloff mentioned the importance of a balanced diet that is rich with colorful vegetables and lots of nutrients to help all manner of skin issues, including texture. Lean proteins, high-quality amino acids, fiber, and healthy oils all contribute to glowing, smooth skin.
11 Tips for How to Improve Skin Texture
1. Use a retinol
There’s simply no denying the effectiveness of retinol. This vitamin A derivative is used mainly to treat anti-aging concerns, but Boone reminds us that using it regularly can make a huge difference in the quality of your skin’s texture. If you’re ready for the big time, you can ask your dermatologist for a prescription-strength cream. I began using one last year to help with my seasonal skin issues and I’m never turning back. Not quite ready to go so hardcore? There are plenty of retinol creams available at varying strengths at drugstores and Sephora.
2. Adjust your diet
Loading up on skin-friendly superfoods will do wonders for your skin, and don’t forget to drink lots of water!
- leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula)
- cruciferous veggies
- sweet potatoes
- chia seeds
3. Use SPF
As if we needed another reason for loading up on sunscreen, even on gray days! Both Dr. Rafaeloff and Boone stressed the importance of using a sunscreen every day to help protect the skin not just from UV rays but to improve skin texture as well. Blotchy, damaged skin can definitely make your skin feel drier and rougher, as well as affect the visible appearance. Knock those concerns out with a great SPF and you’re good to go.
4. Reduce stress
I know, easier said than done, but both of our experts noted that stress and trauma can negatively affect the texture and appearance of your skin. Do your best to get eight hours of sleep, pop on a meditation app, and take some time to nurture yourself. Not only is it good for your skin, but your mental health as well. Everyone wins!
5. Exfoliate regularly
Boone recommends exfoliating one to three times a week for maximum results and mentioned that her favorite way to exfoliate is with an enzyme mask and exfoliating cleanser. However, she was quick to remind us that it’s important not to over-exfoliate since that can actually make skin texture must worse. Once your skin’s natural moisture barrier is compromised due to over-exfoliation, it can lead to issues like breakouts, hives, and more. Start slowly incorporating it into your routine and see how your skin reacts before you up the ante.
6. Hydrodermabrasion facial
If you feel like you’ve tried all of the above already, then step it up with a hydrodermabrasion facial which exfoliates the top layer of dead dry skin. Boone loves this treatment because it uses vacuum extraction, exfoliation, hydration, and a serum infusion to resurface the skin. She suggests using this kind of service every four to eight weeks as regular maintenance, which can cost anywhere from $100-$300, depending on your provider.
7. Double Cleanse
If you’re not doing this already, then it’s time to start double cleansing your skin stat! This two-step cleansing routine ensures you’ve removed makeup, dirt, and grime. Use gentle cleansers that won’t strip the skin and potentially cause breakouts or other texture issues. Start with a cleansing oil or balm to remove makeup and dirt, then go in with anexfoliating cleanserto gently polish and brighten.
8. Chemical Peels
Dr. Rafaeloff states that we can’t go wrong with a chemical peel. And no, it’s not like Samantha from Sex and the City. There are so many options at varying strengths so you can easily find a peel that’s effective with practically no downtime. I recently got the light chemical peel at my local Ject in New York City and was shocked at the immediate and long-lasting results. My skin was glowing and smooth for a full two months afterward. I’m hooked for life.
Another good option for resurfacing, according to Dr. Rafaeloff, is the Morpheus8 treatment. This is a micro-needling device that uses radiofrequency energy to remodel and contour the face. It is a fractional treatment that penetrates deep into the skin helping to resurface and tighten. There is some discomfort during this treatment and the downtime varies per patient but expect about 2-3 days and up to two weeks for full results to appear. Generally, it will run you around $1300 per treatment.
If you want to invest in an effective treatment that is great for texture, acne scars, tone, and fine lines, then Dr. Rafaeloff recommends looking into micro-needling. The procedure involves tiny needles that are used to create controlled micro-injuries to the skin in order to produce collagen and elastin. Treatment usually starts at around $600 depending on your provider.
11. PRP Micro-needling
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, and you’ve maybe seen it being referred to as the “vampire facial.” This kind of micro-needling involves taking a blood sample, separating the PRP from the blood, and then using it during a micro-needling service. Since plasma is vital for healing wounds and injuries it can increase the efficacy of the treatment by helping the skin tissue to repair itself.PRP micro-needling can run you up to $1000, so it’s definitely an investment!
The Best Products for Improving Skin Texture
Cosmedix Pure Enzymes
Boone recommends this nourishing, gently exfoliating mask for polishing away dull skin cells and pore-clogging impurities. It’s made with cranberry enzymes and lactic acid, leaving skin soft, plump, and smooth.
Olga Lorencin Skincare Red Carpet Facial in a Box
Long considered a beauty secret for many a Hollywood star, this pro-grade peel gets your skin glowing in just a few minutes. Boone recommends using it anytime you need a little boost or are looking to consistently refresh your complexion.
Elemis Resurfacing Peel Pads
Boone recommends these dual-action pads to help reduce the appearance of uneven skin texture, pores, and dark spots. They’re super convenient and easy to use, and work to lift away dead cells and gently exfoliate the skin so it’s bright and smooth.
Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask
This three-in-one skin resurfacing mask has rave reviews on Sephora, and it isn’t hard to see why. It exfoliates, peels, and visibly polishes skin thanks to a combination of powerful ingredients. Pumpkin enzyme is an incredible exfoliant that helps to smooth skin surfaces, the AHA chemically peels the skin to make it look more radiant, and aluminum oxide crystals polish the skin’s surface to improve the look of uneven texture.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Exfoliator
If you prefer to use a physical exfoliant, check out this gentle, rice-based powder. It visibly brightens, improves skin texture, and clears pores. This exfoliant works to draw out excess oil while also hydrating and reducing the appearance of redness. The fact that you can use it daily is a huge bonus. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I give bottles of this to my beauty product resistant-brothers and tell them to use it as a face wash in the shower and their skin has never looked better. It seriously works.
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream
This effective retinol cream tackles multiple texture issues and much more, including dark spots, wrinkles, dryness, and dull skin. It blends retinol, peptides, and vitamin F. Retinol improves the look and feel of uneven skin tone and texture while also fighting damage. Peptides firm and strengthen the skin, which helps to boost the benefits of retinol. The fatty acids in vitamin F work to improve texture, increase suppleness, and calm skin.
Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum
Dr. Rafaeloff recommended using vitamin C to improve skin texture, and this serum is a cult-fave with good reason. It is quickly absorbed by the skin and instantly brightens, hydrates, and firms. It also provides powerful antioxidant protection and fades dark spots and wrinkles over time.
Nature’s Bounty Zinc Supplements
Along with eating nutrient-rich veggies and using products that are loaded with skin-healthy vitamins and minerals, Dr. Rafaeloff mentioned the importance of zinc in your diet. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help with textural issues like acne, rosacea, eczema, and more. Add a little zinc to your vitamin routine for an added boost of skin goodness.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
Both of our experts stressed the importance of sunscreen, and this is one of our favorite daily options. It’s lightweight, is easily absorbed into the skin, and looks beautiful while also protecting you not just from the sun’s harmful rays, but by enriching the skin with brightening, protective ingredients.
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One AHA Lactic Acid Treatment
Good Genes is one of those products that give visible results in a startling amount of time. Just a few days into trying it I was getting compliments on how bright, smooth, and even my skin looked. The powerful lactic acid formulation is one of the best things you can put on your skin and is worth every penny. It’s a serum that targets hyperpigmentation, texture issues, pores, and more. Don’t just take my word for it, it has been clinically proven to work.
Every product is curated with care by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.
This post was originally published on June 22, 2021, and has since been updated.