How to Get Smooth Skin, According to to Dermatologists
Now that beauty filters on social media can smooth skin without detection and full-coverage makeup does its job without looking like pancakes, it’s easy to believe that some people have managed to completely hide all traces of acne scars, pores, and imperfections to eliminate skin texture. But to celebrate real skin, TikToker share clips of themselves with a full face of makeup in perfect lighting – in other words, their skin looking flawlessly smooth – which then causes them to zoom in on their bare, unfiltered skin. It turns out they have pores, peach fuzz, fine lines, bumps and scars because we all have them.
“Everyone has textured skin, and it’s perfectly normal,” he says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic in NYC. However, certain factors (read: genetics, extreme dryness, or loss of collagen) accentuate texture and make it more noticeable. To get you back to baseline, you want to find out the root cause. It – and the treatment you might want to turn to – is different: someone with acne who wants to get rid of bumps and scars will need a very different routine than someone with eczema who is trying to smooth scaly and rough skin. “Even so, a little skin care will help smooth skin, no matter what your concern or skin type,” says Vanessa Coppola, APN-C, FNP-BC, skin expert and founder of Bare Aesthetic MedSpa. Before you begin, discover five tips that skin experts say can help achieve smoother skin from head to toe.
What Causes Rough, Textured Skin?
Fine lines, wrinkles, pores, scars, pimples, and dryness all contribute to uneven skin texture, says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology.Anything from your genetics to the climate you live in can cause these problems. And pollution and UV exposure can make them worse, Garshick says. In fact, “90 percent of the visible signs of skin aging come from daily, unprotected exposure to UV light,” they say Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and partner of Dove. UV rays poke holes in the skin’s collagen, which tightens the skin and is a big part of keeping it looking smooth.
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Genetic conditions such as acne, eczema, or keratosis pilaris can cause the skin on your face or body to feel rough or uneven. “Keratosis pilaris is a very common condition that causes small rough bumps on the skin. It’s usually on the backs of the arms, thighs and cheeks,” he says Jennifer Herrman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “We don’t know the exact cause or trigger, but it does have a genetic component as it tends to run in families.” Hormonal changes like menopause also play a role. “As estrogen decreases with age, skin becomes thin, dry, and more textured,” says Herrmann.
Due to the multitude of factors and the potential need for prescription formulas, the best way to fix uneven texture is to see a dermatologist. However, derms agree that there are some universal steps to achieve smoother skin:
Apply SPF daily
All the experts we spoke to say that if you want smooth skin, SPF is non-negotiable. “Wearing sunscreen every day is key to keeping skin soft and smooth,” says Garshick. “Cumulative UV exposure can cause collagen breakdown, contributing to structural changes such as fine lines and wrinkles.” Apply a broad-spectrum formula with SPF 30 or higher. COOLA Full Spectrum 360º Refreshing Water Cream Organic Face Sunscreen with SPF 50 blends into skin without leaving a white sheen, moisturizes and doesn’t feel sticky, sticky or sticky.
“Gently exfoliating is a wonderful way to shed dry, dead skin cells, which helps keep pores clear and skin smooth,” says Coppola. You can choose between a physical scrub, e.g Renee Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub, which uses biodegradable jojoba pearls to remove dead skin cells, or a chemical peel that contains AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid). “AHAs are great for treating general texture issues, resilience and dryness. BHAs are very good for skin texture and rough spots caused by acne or sun damage,” says Coppola. Ingredients to look out for include lactic acid, glycolic acid, fruit enzymes, or salicylic acid. The Kinship Self Smooth Resurfacing Serum with 10% Glycolic Acid contains glycolic acid helps minimize the appearance of large pores.
If you’re looking for smoother skin on your body, the same rules apply. An exfoliating formula, like AmLactin Moisturizing Lotion, can help shed dead skin cells, Garshick says. It’s made with lactic acid, which Engleman says is a great chemical peel for sensitive skin types because it’s the most hydrating AHA. Speaking of:
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
A hyaluronic acid serum, e.g Farmacy Filling Good Plumping Serum, is a must-have in your morning skincare routine, says Gohara. All skin types can apply it on clean skin and then apply a moisturizer. You may see an immediate smoothing effect, as hydrated skin tends to look a bit plumper and smoother as it reflects light more evenly, but there’s a more long-term, preventive reason to bother: using a moisturizer for your skin type will improve texture, because it repairs the skin barrier, Herrmann says. Essentially, a strong skin barrier means you are better protected from external factors that cause uneven texture.
You should also use a moisturizing body wash, such as Dive deep into the moisture, says Gohara. This next-gen formula “deposits millions of hydrating micro-droplets that fit into the crevices of dry skin to boost and maintain moisture levels.”
Use a retinol
Retinol is “a great ingredient for textured skin because it increases cellular turnover, which helps shed dead, uneven skin cells,” explains Engleman. It’s similar in purpose to a chemical peel, but retinol targets the deeper levels of the epidermis rather than removing surface dirt, oils, and dead skin, Coppola adds. (You may be able to incorporate both an exfoliant and a retinol into your routine, but do so carefully. Skin cycling is one way to get it right.) Give it a try Babor Retinol Smoothing Facial Toner because it is gentle yet effective in reducing the appearance of lines, blemishes and redness. After cleansing your face, you should apply the formula to a cotton ball and sweep it all over your face before moving on to serums and moisturizers.
Try treatments at the practice
If you find that topical skincare formulas aren’t giving you the results you want, ask your dermatologist about in-office treatments. Typically, fractional lasers, chemical peels, and microneedling are good solutions for smoother skin because they help stimulate skin regeneration and collagen production, Engleman says. Again, “the best way to know what you’re looking at is to have a proper evaluation and diagnosis with a dermatologist,” she says.
Genesis Rivas is the beauty editor at Oprah Daily, where she covers hair, makeup, skin, nails and more. Before joining the Oprah Daily team, she wrote for several publications including InStyle, Real Simple and Shape. When she’s not testing, researching, and writing fun and educational beauty content, she can be found dancing and eating around New York City. Follow her on Instagram or TikTok