Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/21/2021
Developing a solid skincare regimen takes time, but once you’ve got it locked down all you have to do is stick to it.
By now you have a good understanding of your skin type — maybe you’ve even gotten your breakouts under control. Now it’s time to tackle the issue of skin texture.
The goal of any skincare routine is to keep your skin looking and feeling its best.
For many, that means minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while keeping other skin concerns like redness, puffiness and hyperpigmentation at bay.
A daily routine of cleansing, toning and moisturizing can help keep your skin soft and supple, but even if you do everything right you may still struggle with oversized pores, uneven skin tone and rough skin texture.
Below we’ll delve into the details of what causes uneven skin texture and what you can do to address it.
We’ll cover everything from exfoliation to laser treatments to help you achieve the smooth skin of your dreams. Keep reading for a 6-step guide to smoothing out uneven skin texture.
When a pimple pops up overnight, all it takes is a quick dab of concealer to mask the problem. Uneven skin texture is harder to hide and even harder to treat.
The first thing you need to do is find out what’s causing your complexion issues. Here are some of the most common culprits:
The skin is the largest organ in the body, and it is constantly going through a process of regeneration called skin cell turnover.
This is the process through which new skin cells grow to replace dead cells on the surface of the skin.
As we age, skin turnover slows down, which can lead to the accumulation of dead cells, resulting in dull complexion and uneven skin texture.
Aging also leads to changes in collagen levels which impacts your skin’s ability to maintain its youthful fullness. Collagen and elastin are proteins that provide structure for the skin.
As production of these proteins slows with age, the skin starts to wrinkle and sag.
Over time, fine lines can develop into deep wrinkles and creases which affect the texture of the skin.
Hydration is essential for skin cell turnover. Then the skin lacks sufficient moisture, it has a harder time properly shedding dead cells.
As a result, dead skin cells can build up on the skin’s surface, making it look dull, rough and flaky.
Dry skin is a genetic skin type, but it can also be impacted by harsh skincare techniques, environmental factors, and drying skincare products.
Normal skin is soft and supple in texture due to its moisture content.
The skin produces a natural oil called sebum that helps lubricate the skin and supports its protective moisture barrier.
When that moisture barrier becomes compromised, the skin has a tough time keeping in moisture which can lead to issues with uneven skin tone and texture.
Blemishes are some of the most common causes of uneven skin texture.
Acne is a common skin condition that develops when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells.
Though most common among teenagers and adolescents, it can occur at any stage of life. Adult acne is becoming an increasing issue, affecting up to 15 percent of women.
Acne blemishes range from clogged pores and small raised bumps, to large nodules under the skin and even painful cystic lesions.
Even if acne isn’t a frequent concern for you, acne scars can mark your complexion for years after the blemishes themselves have disappeared.
Acne blemishes can damage the tissue on and beneath the surface of the skin. As they heal, a combination of inflammation and increased collagen production sometimes leads to formation of raised tissue on the skin’s surface — these are known as hypertrophic or keloid acne scars.
Acne can also result in atrophic or depressed scarring, which can leave small holes or even large, depressed areas in the skin.
Skin type is largely determined by genetics.
Not only do genetics play a role in determining how much sebum your skin produces and how well it retains moisture, but they also determine your pore size.
Large pores are more visible than small pores and can give the skin a pitted texture.
Pores can also become enlarged due to congestion, sun damage and increased sebum production.
In most cases, uneven skin texture can be linked to numerous factors. Unfortunately, that means fixing uneven skin texture may require a multi-pronged approach.
The good news is there are steps you can take to support cell turnover, improve hydration, and reduce the negative impact of acne and aging.
In many cases, uneven skin tone is a cosmetic issue. Unless you’re dealing with skin cancer or a chronic skin condition like rosacea, you should be able to improve or even eliminate the issue with a combination of over-the-counter skincare products and professional skin treatments.
Dull, rough and flaky skin texture is often the result of dead skin cells accumulating on the surface of the skin.
The solution? A little bit of physical exfoliation.
Exfoliation is simply the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and it can be done with a variety of tools ranging from cleansing scrubs to dry brushes, pumice stones and exfoliating mitts.
The key to physical exfoliation is to avoid products that are too abrasive and to limit it to two treatments per week, depending on your skin type.
Using a product that is too abrasive or exfoliating too often could damage the skin or trigger excess oil production which may lead to acne breakouts.
If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, physical exfoliators may be too harsh.
Instead of physically scrubbing dead skin cells away, chemical exfoliants rely on enzymes or acids to remove dead skin cells and other impurities.
Chemical exfoliators often incorporate alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic or lactic acid, or beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid.
As with physical exfoliation, chemical exfoliation can irritate your skin if you don’t do it right.
Start with a gentle product and exfoliate just once or twice a week to see how your skin reacts. Some skin types can tolerate daily chemical exfoliation, but you should still start out slow.
Oily skin types often struggle with acne breakouts. Blackheads, whiteheads and other acne blemishes can affect the texture of your skin, but you may be surprised to learn that the solution is not to strip away excess oil.
In fact, the best treatment may be to start using facial oil. It sounds counterintuitive, but the more you strip away those natural oils, the more your skin will produce.
Rather than fighting oil production, try adding a facial moisturizer to your daily skincare routine to help balance it out.
Dab a bit of facial moisture on areas marred by breakouts, focusing particularly one the T-zone.
Over time, your skin’s oil production will balance out and you’ll notice smoother skin texture as a result.
When you think about vitamin C for skincare, you probably think of its benefits for improving skin tone.
Though vitamin C offers strong brightening benefits to fight hyperpigmentation, it may also help improve moisture retention and boost collagen production.
This powerful antioxidant can help repair free-radical damage and protect the skin against environmental stressors like pollution and UV light.
It may also help heal acne scars and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Whatever else you try to improve skin texture, don’t skip the sunscreen.
Unprotected UV exposure is one of the primary causes of skin damage and can contribute to issues with everything from hyperpigmentation to uneven skin texture.
Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher on a daily basis, even on cloudy days.
Better yet, choose a daily moisturizer that incorporates SPF.
Though over-the-counter skincare products can certainly help with uneven skin tone, sometimes a professional treatment is the best way to get the results you want.
Here are some of the facial treatments that can help repair sun damage, boost collagen production, and reduce wrinkles:
Dermaplaning – This treatment involves scraping a medical-grade scalpel across the skin to remove the top layer of dead cells to improve skin texture affected by aging and acne.
Chemical Peels – Professional-grade chemical peels are more concentrated than over-the-counter versions. They deliver a higher percentage of the active ingredient to help remove dead cells from the skin’s surface.
Microdermabrasion – A form of physical exfoliation, microdermabrasion involves using a special device to buff away the top layer of skin to reveal the smoother, younger-looking skin underneath.
Laser Resurfacing – Using a variety of ablative and non-ablative methods, laser resurfacing treatments help stimulate the production of collagen to improve skin tone and texture over time.
Microneedling – This treatment involves using a roller covered in tiny needles to create microscopic punctures in the skin. These micro injuries prompt the skin to produce more collagen, resulting in a plumper and smoother texture.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your uneven skin tone or you’re struggling to decide how to deal with it, the best option may be to speak to a dermatologist or another skincare professional.
A professional facial is a great way to jump-start a new skincare routine. Not only will your skin benefit from a treatment customized to your skin type and your specific skin concerns, but you’ll be able to ask your esthetician for advice on at-home maintenance.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Though Benjamin Franklin definitely wasn’t talking about skincare when he made this famous statement, the same principle holds true when it comes to maintaining smooth skin tone and texture.
Developing and maintaining an appropriate skincare regimen is the key to keeping your skin looking and feeling its best through all stages of life.
Try the following tips to keep your skin smooth and soft:
Be mindful of the ingredients when choosing skincare products. Antioxidants are a must when it comes to repairing skin cell damage, so look for ingredients like retinol (a vitamin A derivative), green tea extract, and alpha-lipoic acid. Other ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C may help boost collagen production to improve skin texture.
Stop smoking and moderate your intake of alcohol. Smoking and drinking on a regular basis can have a negative impact on skin texture by drying out the skin and slowing collagen production to increase the visible signs of aging.
Focus on hydration with your daily skincare routine. Moisturizing should be part of your daily routine anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check that you’re using a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type. If dry skin is an issue, consider using a richer moisturizer at night and add a hydrating facial mask to your weekly routine.
Give your skin time to adjust to the new routine. When making changes to your skincare routine, it’s important to be patient. It typically takes about 30 days of consistent treatment to see any real change and some treatments can take several months to show the full effect.
Get plenty of sleep to give your skin time to regenerate. There’s a reason they call it “beauty sleep.” Overnight is when your skin rebuilds its collagen stores and repairs damage, so getting enough sleep could help improve skin texture and reduce the visible signs of aging. Individual sleep requirements vary, but most adults do best with seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Your skin is going to change over time, there’s simply no avoiding it. Though you can’t stop the clock on aging, you can take certain steps to help maintain your skin’s supple and youthful texture.
Engaging in a daily skincare routine and employing certain preventive measures to avoid skin damage are key.
If you’re concerned about uneven skin tone, it may be worth talking to a medical professional online to determine whether a prescription treatment might help.