Our personal perception of what defines a perfect skin type varies from one person to the next, however there is one common characteristic that we all seem to chase and that is smoother skin.
Polished, unwrinkled skin displays an aura of youth and good health, of agelessness, in a world obsessed with not looking its age. We all want smoother skin. As an aesthetician, I quick understood early in my career that even the most flawless of men and women, still yearn to be even more beautiful and unblemished. Is this an impossible fantasy we are all chasing, or a dream that can actually become reality? Keep reading this post to find out how you can achieve (realistic) smoother skin at home, the causes of uneven skin texture and the most common skincare mistakes.
1) Be more specific about your skin concern
Skin texture refers to the condition of the surface of the skin. When the skin’s barrier is compromised, reacting from a variety of internal and external influences, it can cause a few noticeable changes in the quality of the skin. Skin texture can refer to a variety of common symptoms, including:
Dry, flaky skin
Fine lines and wrinkles
Acne (including milia, blackheads and small lumps under the skin)
Loss of laxity and volume
Everyone wants smoother skin, that’s an easy ask. But to achieve that, you first need to define what features truly bother you. Do you always have blackheads, and want to get rid of them? Have you got a dry skin type, and wish to improve the tight, irritated feeling? Do you want to reduce the appearance of pores? Ask yourself these questions, before you move to the next step.
2) Understand the influences of your uneven skin texture
There can be many underlying factors to the development of uneven skin texture, depending on what kind of specific skin characteristic is causing this.
For example, fine lines and wrinkles, and loss of skin laxity is a result of the ageing process that all of us experience no matter what we try and do to stop it. The older we get, the more our collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid levels deplete which is the fuel that keeps our skin looking supple and youthful.
The perfectly natural, ageing process slows everything down. The natural cell turnover gradually becomes sluggish, which leads to poorer wound healing, a duller appearance and fine lines and wrinkles appear.
Dead skin cells
Quite often, uneven skin texture is a result of a build-up of a dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. By managing this safely but regularly with skincare and professional treatment, it will result in instantly smoother-looking skin.
UV skin damage
Exposure to UVA and UVB rays also have a negative impact on how healthy our skin is. Repetitive exposure not only heightens our risk of skin cancer, but also an increase in skin pigmentation, a thickened, rough epidermis and premature ageing. All of these aspects contribute to the appearance of uneven skin texture.
Genes, which are made up of DNA, have a permanent, uncontrollable influence over your skin and its appearance. Genes are made up of proteins, and collagen (the basic structure and strength of the skin) is a protein. Genetic factors are thought to be passed down from parents, but more study needs to be done in this area to understand the full scope of this topic. Some examples of how genes influence the skin are skin cancer and albinism.
Our ethnic group also defines our skin texture and how it changes as we grow older. Europeans, Asians and Americans all differ in skin characteristics and aging. For example, Caucasians show noticeable signs of aging faster compared to other ethnicities. In one study, Chinese women displayed more wrinkles around the eyes compared to Japanese women, and Caucasian females showed more wrinkle formation in the lower parts of the face.
Of course, our health also has a massive impact on how our skin behaves. The skin is the human body’s largest organ and therefore is a powerful reflection of certain health conditions (like diabetes) and even the medication we consume.
Countless amounts of research have shown us how nutrition has a direct impact on how healthy our skin is, and therefore how ‘smooth’ it appears. The link between our gut and our skin is profound, for example some studies have shown us how having a high glycemic diet can induce symptoms of inflammatory conditions like acne and psoriasis.
Lifestyle factors and habits
Many other lifestyle habits and factors can affect the condition of the skin and its texture. The quality of sleep you’re getting, stress levels, alcohol and caffeine intake and exercise influence the skin. Smoking, skin touching and picking, cosmetics and other personal products and hygiene plays a part.
The one thing that these factors are have in common is that they are in our control, so once we identify and act on what areas need improving, our skin may change accordingly.
3) Manage uneven skin texture with skincare
The global skincare industry may be valued at $140 billion in 2020 however there will always be debate about whether or not over-the-counter skincare actually has any positive, long-term effect on the skin. Skincare is always a personal choice but I have an obligation to say that I see better results with my clients that take care of their skin at home. If you want to improve your skin texture, skincare is a must.
The main reasons of having a skincare routine in place, is to clean the skin, manage certain conditions like blemishes and dull skin, aids exfoliation, maintains moisture and most importantly of all, protects the skin from UV and harsh environmental exposures. Certain ingredients can help to improve the appearance of an uneven skin texture, such as:
Free radical formation in the skin can cause DNA damage, accelerating the aging process, causing uneven skin texture. Antioxidants in skincare can have a positive impact in neutralising this reaction. You can read more about introducing antioxidants in skincare here.
AHAs & BHAs
One of the biggest contributions to uneven skin texture is a build-up of dead skin cells, and Alpha Hydroxy and Beta Hydroxy acids help to dissolve the glue that binds these to the surface of the skin. From glycolic and lactic acid to salicylic and mandelic acid, find one that suits your skin type, and gradually work them into your skincare routine. The gradual exfoliation will help to stimulate cellular turnover and smooth the skin’s surface.
These use of retinoids in skincare have been studied for years and are common treatment for photodamage and signs of aging. One randomised clinical study showed that all 24 Korean women who took part, noticed decreased skin roughness and skin wrinkles after 24 weeks of using a retinoid product.
As retinol becomes increasing accessible, it also remains a popular acne treatment and will continue to well into the future, experts say.
All these factors explain why a retinoid product are an effective treatment for improving features associated with an uneven skin texture.
A lot of the characteristics that create an uneven skin texture can be accelerated through daily exposure to UV rays. Wearing an SPF will help to minimise the development of hyperpigmentation, reduce the risk of skin cancer and may even help to slow down the ageing process.
4) Have regular skin treatments with a professional
Once you have your skincare routine in check, consider booking in regular facials to help boost your cellular turnover and improve your skin health. Simple exfoliation treatments like microdermabrasion or mild skin peels can help to improve skin texture, and microneedling, laser, IPL, LED and radiofrequency facials will help to stimulate collagen and elastin, resulting in a smoother-looking surface.
5) Avoid these skin mistakes for smoother skin
Over-exfoliation of the skin Using too many exfoliating skincare products, too high percent of certain ingredients, and also combining the wrong things can lead to over-exfoliation of the skin’s barrier. What happens next? Sensitisation of the skin, which can display a number of symptoms from broken capillaries and redness to unwanted breakouts or irritated, flaky skin, all of which contributes to the appearance of uneven skin texture. No matter how resilient we think our skin is, we need to remember it is a delicate organ that needs to be nourished and fed rather than stripped and shocked out of its essential natural oils.
Relying on manual exfoliation for smoother skin We’ve all been there – using a super grainy product to aggressively scrub at our skin, hoping it will eradicate all of our blemishes, pores and fine lines. This process certainly helps with removing dead skin cells however I personally would recommend using active chemical exfoliating ingredients in your skincare regime instead. Ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid or lactic acid will help to exfoliate the skin on a deeper level, which you can read more about here.
Not wearing SPF Not wearing an SPF every day, is an easy and common mistake to make, especially in the process of trying to improve skin texture. Maybe not all cases of uneven texture are directly caused from UV exposure, however it is one of the biggest influences. Repetitive exposure to UV rays degrades collagen and elastin, accelerating the ageing process, and even heightens our risk of skin cancer. Wear an SPF.
Buying by influence Just because a product is trending, or an influencer swears by it, this does not promise it is going to work for you in the same way. It’s difficult to not be influenced by the Cult Beauty marketing emails, the Instagram skincare ads and the touching stories of beauty editors fixing their pores with yet another hero product. But just bear in mind there is no guarantee that you will see improvements in your skin texture, just because an advert says so. Do your research, identify your skin type to understand what ingredients will benefit you...which leads me to my next point.
Going it alone
Having access to more information as technology develops, isn’t always a good thing, especially when it comes to debunking the world of skincare. It doesn’t have to be over complicated. If you need some guidance then book in with an aesthetician, and if that doesn’t work out, find another expert that can guide you down the right path. The professional experience and open discussion will benefit your skin for the future.
Skin texture can mean different things for each individual person. Texture can refer to blackheads and scarring, or to the appearance of large pores and fine lines. Our skin’s surface and condition reflect our age, our health and lifestyle habits, and because of this, it remains a common challenge amongst many men and women to keep it looking smooth and supple. Because our skin is influenced by so many factors that are in control (for example exercise, stress management, diet and nutrition, skincare) many of us can smooth our skin texture following 5 simple rules. By specifying simply what bothers you about your skin (is it pores or acne or ageing or dullness or scarring or hyperpigmentation?) and establishing the triggers for these concerns, by incorporating antioxidants, vitamin A, SPF and hydroxy acids into your routine, booking in regular facial treatment and finally avoid the common skincare mistakes I have listed above.