How to Improve Skin Texture, According to Derms
Bumpy skin and rough patches can be improved with a variety of different treatments.
Regardless of what season it is, there are always reasons why you could be battling skin texture issues. Drier months lead to flaky patches, more humid months lead to oily breakouts, or you could just be battling a weird round of allergies that's leading to unevenness. No matter what, you should be armed with a variety of ways to improve your skin's overall texture so that you can pinpoint the issues and solve them as they arise.
We consulted three of the leading voices in dermatology to advise on how they treat patients with uneven skin texture: Joshua Zeichner, MD, board-certified dermatologist and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at The Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology; Caroline Robinson, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology; and Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, cosmetic dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer and Founder of the PFRANKMD Brand.
Here are their tips for helping combat uneven skin texture on both your face and body.
"Whether it is a physical or chemical exfoliator, these ingredients help remove dead cells from the surface of the skin to brighten the complexion and improve texture," says Dr. Zeichner. He recommends Dove Exfoliating Beauty Bar ($9; target.com) because it contains ultra gentle exfoliating particles that won't disrupt the outer skin layer. Tatcha's The Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser ($38; sephora.com) uses fibers from the Japanese luffa fruit to gently lift impurities from the skin, or you can test The Things We Do's Gly Glow Scrub ($47; thethingswedo.com), which has jojoba beads, lavender, and seaweed extract to help balance skin.
"I prefer gentle chemical exfoliation over physical exfoliation because it creates less friction and inflammation and it has more uniform results," says Dr. Robinson. She recommends Philosophy Microdelivery Dream Peel ($60; sephora.com) because it has a sophisticated blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids that work to gently exfoliate the skin overnight. Freck Beauty Cactus Water Lactic Acid Toner ($24; urbanoutfitters.com) has the texture of an essence but works to balance and gently exfoliate your skin with lactic acid, or you can use an overnight mask like Glow Recipe's Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask ($45; sephora.com) to repair and exfoliate your skin while you sleep.
"We know that skin hydration levels start to decline during the second half of the day, leading to dryness, flaking, and rough texture," says Dr. Zeichner. "Stick to moisturizers that contain calming ingredients like niacinamide to even tone and texture." He recommends Innbeauty Project Next Level Daily Moisturizer ($19; innbeautyproject.com) because it contains antioxidant-rich botanicals in addition to niacinamide. You can also try out Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask ($48; sephora.com), which is a multitasking mask that can be used as a moisturizer and eye cream, or Paula's Choice Oil-Free Moisturizer ($29; paulaschoice.com), which is perfect for acne-prone skin.
Similar to your face, your body skin's texture can suffer if it isn't properly moisturized. Dr. Robinson loves Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion ($8; target.com) because it contains glycerin, fatty acids, and microdroplets of Vaseline Jelly to help support the skin barrier. You should also try out Necessaire's The Body Lotion ($25; shop.nordstrom.com), which is a clean body lotion perfect for sensitive skin. For extra moisture that your skin will totally drink up (especially after exfoliating), Mutha Body Butter ($95; violetgrey.com) is totally worth the splurge.
"Retinol is perhaps the best-studied ingredient we have to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," says Dr. Zeichner. "I recommend a retinol serum in the evening before bed to help stimulate cell turnover and collagen production while you sleep." He likes Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum ($18; target.com), which has a stable form of retinol that minimizes potential irritation. Celebrity esthetician Shani Darden has Retinol Reform ($88; sephora.com) in her eponymous line that is beloved by celebs like Jessica Alba, Shay Mitchell, and many others. And if you want to use retinol that's just as powerful as a serum but is better for sensitive skin, try out a cream like Drunk Elephant's A-Passioni Retinol Cream ($74; sephora.com).
"Chronic exposure to the sun can cause many issues, including dullness, uneven tone, fine lines, textural changes, and an increased risk of skin cancer, which is why sunscreen is so important." says Dr. Robinson. "I recommend sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum, and water resistant." Her favorite is Isdin Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion SPF 50+ ($60; walmart.com), which has blendable broad SPF coverage in a water resistant formula and contains DNA repairsomes, naturally occurring enzymes that help to repair existing sun damage. For a reef-safe option that layers well with makeup, try Versed's Guards Up ($22; versed.com), which is broad spectrum and suitable for all skin tones. And of course, your body needs sunscreen too; look for one that comes in a continuous spray bottle to ensure even application, like Sun Bum's Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 ($16; target.com), which is ultra-hydrating and also contains antioxidant properties for extra protection.
"For more powerful and long-lasting results, in-office resurfacing devices like Fraxel can target deeper textural problems like acne scars and sun damage," says Dr. Frank. Ask your dermatologist about devices and treatments that they can administer to help improve your skin's texture, including microdermabrasion, microneedling, stronger peels, or even laser treatments.