How To Improve Your Skin Texture, According to Dermatologist

Having texture skin means you may struggler with skin issues acne breakouts, bumps, clogged or visible pores, flaky skin, and fine lines. "Although most people strive for that airbrushed finish, almost everyone has texture to some degree, whether it's caused by skin conditions, facial regimes, environmental factors, or even genetics," Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, told Health.
Improving skin texture typically involves a mix of chemical exfoliation, retinol, moisturizer, and diligent sunscreen application.

Keep reading to find out what three dermatologists find are the best methods to improve skin texture, and their top products and treatment recommendations to add to your skincare routine.
Use a Chemical Exfoliant
"Chemical exfoliation assists in removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin," Anna Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami, told Health. "This encourages cell turnover and reveals smoother, fresher skin underneath." Tempted to grab a facial scrub? Gohara warns that physical exfoliation can be extremely rough on the skin and cause micro-tears. 

When choosing a chemical exfoliant, look for products with glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid. These exfoliating acids help improve skin texture by removing dead skin cells, unclogging pores, and boosting collagen production.1 Both glycolic and lactic acid are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), but lactic acid is mild and ideal for dry and sensitive skin types.2 Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that reduces oil production—making it suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.1
"In general, it is best to exfoliate one to two times per week to avoid risks of over-exfoliation, which can lead to sensitivity and irritation of the skin," Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell, told Health. 

Use a Vitamin C Serum
"Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that's been proven to help with skin texture and brighten the skin," said Gohara. "You can use this daily—just make sure to use it with sunscreen." (Vitamin C can make your skin sun sensitive.) 

Thanks to its antioxidant properties, Vitamin C serums are ideal for addressing texture issues related to sun and environmental damage.3 Vitamin C serums can also help fade dark spots and stimulate collagen production to firm the skin and reduce fine lines.4

Apply Sunscreen Every Day
Wearing sunscreen daily prevents skin texture issues and sun damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. "Sunscreen helps to improve skin texture by helping to prevent UV-induced collagen breakdown," said Garshick. "Exposure to the sun can lead to loss of collagen, which can contribute to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as skin laxity." Skin laxity refers to stretched or loose skin.

"You should be incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine even during cloudy days or if you are working from home, as the sun from the window can affect your skin," added Gohara. Pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and apply it to your face, ears, neck, and chest.5

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Apply Retinol or Retinoid Treatments
Retinol and other retinoids can smooth textured skin caused by acne, congested skin, or fine lines. "These vitamin A derivatives can stimulate cell turnover and collagen production, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing the skin," said Chacon. Retinol (a type of retinoid) and retinoids also help unclog pores to help reduce acne breakouts.6 
Retinoids can be irritating, so test a small patch of skin to see how you react. If everything is good, introduce retinoids slowly to your routine and stick with low concentrations. Gohara recommends using a retinoid two to three times a week at night—since it can make your skin sun sensitive. You can find over-the-counter (OTC) retinoid treatments with retinol, retinyl palmitate, and retinaldehyde. More potent retinoids require a prescription, with the exception of OTC Differin (adapalene).7

Moisturize Daily 
"Keeping your skin hydrated can significantly improve its texture," said Chacon. Using a moisturizer twice a day helps increase your skin's water content and repair the skin barrier, revealing smoother skin.8 When choosing a moisturizer, Garshick recommends key ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides—which naturally occur (and become depleted) in the skin.

Hyaluronic acid attracts water and retains it. Moisturizers with hyaluronic acid help hydrate, lock in moisture and plump the skin. Hyaluronic acid also won't worsen breakouts and clogged pores.9 Ceramides are fatty acids that hold in moisture and protect the skin. Adding a moisturizer with ceramides helps repair the skin barrier to smooth, flakey, dry skin and retain moisture.10 

Try Microneedling
Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure where a dermatologist punctures the skin's surface with tiny needles. Also called "collagen induction therapy," microneedling helps boost collagen and encourages cell turnover to improve skin texture.11
Microneedling can help with texture issues related to fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, visible pores, and acne scars. "Most people need multiple microneedling treatments, usually about three weeks to eight weeks apart. It can take three to six months to see results," said Gohara. You can also combine microneedling and platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which has growth factors in it that can helps improve collagen production and fade acne scars.11

Get a Chemical Peel
Professional-grade chemical peels involve a dermatologist or dermatologic surgeon applying a chemical solution to remove layers of skin. Treatments can vary in intensity, with deep peels requiring a surgical setting. Similar to other exfoliating treatments, chemical peels get rid of dead skin cells, stimulate cell turnover, and stimulate collagen production to improve skin texture, said Garshick.1213

A light peel can take up to a week to heal, while a medium peel can take one to two weeks. Deep peels can take up to 21 days to heal and require several follow-up visits. Garshick recommends medium-depth peels for people with a lot of sun damage. If you have a darker skin tone, be careful with chemical peels. They can increase your risk of hyperpigmentation.12

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Try Laser Resurfacing
Laser resurfacing is a more intense professional treatment that uses light energy to stimulate collagen production and remove the outer layer of skin, said Chacon. Garshick recommends scheduling laser resurfacing treatments in the fall and winter since it can make the skin more sensitive to the sun. This procedure also takes time and money. You may notice results 30 days after your appointment, noted Gohara. 

What Causes Poor Skin Texture?
"Usually, textured skin is a cumulation of dead skin cells on the surface or a condition such as acne or eczema," said Gohara. Genetics, sun damage, dehydration, diet, and smoking can also contribute to poor skin texture. 

"Skin texture may be related to genetics as some people may be more likely to experience breakouts or dry or rough, flaky skin," said Garshick. "Sun exposure can also contribute to textured skin as it limits the natural oils and deteriorates natural hyaluronic acid production," said Gohara. As a result, too much sun can make skin feel rough and uneven. Garshick adds that UV exposure and pollution also cause collagen loss, making fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. 

Dehydration can make the skin feel tight and appear dull, making fine lines more noticeable, said Chacon. People with sensitive skin may also experience reactions to skincare products, environmental factors, or food.