From pores & spots to dry patches, skin texture is totally normal. Here’s our guide to understanding what’s going on beneath the surface
We believe that real skin texture should be celebrated. After all, the skin is an important organ with its own functions that help our body work as it should. While apparent discrepancies in skin texture might feel like a problem to solve for many wishing for smooth, wrinkle-free, pore-free, blemish-free skin, the truth is, skin texture isn’t something that needs to be fixed at all – it’s simply a part of our skin’s natural function and healing process.
That said, it’s also OK to want to minimise the appearance of uneven skin texture and improve upon what you have. And although no skincare product is going to deliver a filter-like, airbrushed complexion, whether you’re wondering how to minimise pores or how to bust breakouts, there are things that can be done to help even things out a little, should you want to.
Here’s everything you might want to know about some of the most common skin texture concerns and the sorts of products that you may like to consider adding into your routine.
Pores are a very important part of our skin’s natural function, and they’re visible by nature. “Everyone has pores. They’re the epidermal openings connected to the pilosebaceous unit where a hair follicle and sebaceous gland reside. Sebum and skin oils can be excreted through pores,” explains Dr Anthony Rossi, NYC dermatologist, pioneering researcher and clinician.
And while all pores are visible, they can appear larger or more obvious in certain places and on those people with oilier skin types. However, visible pores don’t equal large pores. “Pores can’t open, close or shrink, but they can appear larger or more apparent when sebum gets trapped in them,” adds Dr Rossi.
How to minimise the appearance of pores
If you’re wondering how to reduce the appearance of pores on your face, tackling excess sebum is the way to go. “First, a great face wash that’s oil-based will help dissolve sebum and dirt that accumulates on the skin and in the pores,” says Dr Rossi.
Look for alpha-hydroxy acids and salicylic acid to break up pore-clogging sebum. “An exfoliating polish will physically remove dead cells from the skin’s surface, further reducing the appearance of large pores,” reveals Dr Martin Nimmo, Clinical Director of The Nimmo Clinic.
Post-breakout scarring happens to many of us and while some spots can leave slightly raised, red scars, more severe cases of acne can leave deep indents in the skin. Remember: a scar is simply your skin’s healing process from a wound.
How to minimise the appearance of acne scarring
The appearance of surface-level post-breakout scarring, such as slightly raised pigmentation, can be improved by speeding up surface cell turnover with at-home retinoids and retinols. However, when it comes to deep scarring that’s resulted in indents in the skin, or ‘ice pick acne scars’, it’s important to limit expectations.
“Ice pick acne scars are caused when the body tries to repair the site of an acne breakout by laying down new collagen. However, when it doesn’t make enough, it can leave a v-shaped depression in the skin,” explains Dr Nimmo. “Due to the depth of these scars, improvements generally require professional intervention.” Speak to your doctor, dermatologist or aesthetician who can recommend further treatments or prescriptions. In the meantime, the below products can help with more general uneven skin texture.
Try: Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream (£62)
• Size: 30ml
This retinol cream from Drunk Elephant comes highly recommended by beauty editors and insiders. Start off by applying a pea-sized amount in the evening, once or twice a week, and increase application to every other night as your skin gets more tolerant. This will help curb irritation.
Try: No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate (£34.95)
• Size: 30ml
If you’re concerned about the potentially irritating side-effects of retinol, this concentrate is a great place to start. Utilising a slow-release system, as well as bisabolol to help soothe and calm the skin, the risk of irritation is substantially reduced when used once a week to begin with.
If you’ve noticed your skin looking more crepey than wrinkly lately and it’s getting you down, it’s likely your skin is dehydrated. “Dehydrated and dry skin can lead to uneven skin texture, and this is commonly caused by an impaired skin barrier function,” says Dr Nimmo.
The skin barrier is a natural defence mechanism that works to keep harmful substances out and moisture in. When the skin’s natural moisture barrier is disrupted, either through over-exfoliation, dehydration or sun damage, it can appear crepey and dry.
How to minimise the appearance of dry skin
To counteract dry patches and crepey skin, it’s important to get your skin barrier back in check. “To restore the barrier function, it’s essential to use skincare products that promote a healthy balance of epidermal protein, lipids and hydration, and stimulate a healthy production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid,” reveals Dr Nimmo. Look for products that contain nourishing ceramides, plumping hyaluronic acid and firming peptides.
And it’s important to be applying SPF every single day (especially if you’re using retinol and acids to treat uneven skin texture already, as these make the skin more sensitive to UV rays). “UV exposure causes collagen in the dermis to thin out and become inelastic, leading to thin, coarse and dull skin,” says Dr Rossi. It’s therefore imperative that you apply a separate SPF product every morning, rain or shine.
Try: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Age Correct SPF50+ (£25)
• Size: 50ml
This SPF contains impressive UV protection to protect skin against ageing, UVA rays and skin-damaging UVB rays. On top of that, it also contains hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid, as well as pigmentation-reducing niacinamide.
One of the most obvious causes of uneven skin texture is congestion. “Acne and ingrown hairs can cause common problems with bumps and blemishes,” says Dr Rossi. If it’s breakouts and stubborn spots that you’re dealing with, there are plenty of blemish-busting skincare products around that can help.
How to minimise the appearance of congestion
The best way to reduce the risk and appearance of pore congestion and breakouts at home is by using a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) (most commonly known as salicylic acid). By sloughing away at pore-clogging dirt, dead skin cells and sebum, salicylic acid can help reduce existing spots and prevent new ones from forming.
However, if you have a bump or blemish that’s proving particularly stubborn or seems out of the ordinary, be sure to seek expert advice. “Many things cause bumps and blemishes. However, overactive sebaceous glands and other growths should be seen by a dermatologist,” advises Dr Rossi.