There’s nothing worse than being SO close to your skincare goals…then pesky dead skin cells decide to clog your pores and ruin it all. We’ve all been there. Clear-ish skin. No acne. Minimal scarring. But the texture…is still there. For as far back as I can remember into my childhood, I’ve always had issues with texture. I recall being 10 years old and visiting my doctor every other week because my forehead looked like a crunch bar and I constantly felt really, really ugly. It wasn’t fun. It still isn’t fun. She prescribed every acne medication there is, even steroids, and my texture refused to budge.
Now into adulthood, I rarely experience texture, but, it’s a concern I’ve accepted will never permanently disappear. Texture is normal. It’s not harmful in any way. It’s beautiful, even. I wish we’d stop aiming for
photoshopped Instagram perfect skin and love REAL skin. Real skin has texture and scars. Real skin isn’t perfect skin. Healthy skin is perfect skin. Aim for healthy skin. But, let’s treat this texture now.
The few times I did experience texture, I typically did a peel such as The Ordinary’s AHA 30% BHA 2% Peeling Solution, but recently, my goal was to be more proactive than reactive. The routine that’s been working wonders for my texture not only treats it but also prevents it. It’s been months of testing this routine with these products, and I’m certain they work. I’ve also had a few clients that were generous enough to test them out for me, too, and they, too, experienced incredible results.
First, what is texture?
You notice it on your face and it’s not quite a pimple, it’s the same color as your skin, it’s not painful, and can occasionally be itchy…but it never secretes pus. Well, that’s because texture isn’t acne. Texture is simply a build-up of dead skin cells in your pores. Your skin is constantly creating new cells and shedding old ones, it’s called your cell turnover rate or cell renewal factor. It can occur anywhere from 14 days for babies and 84 days for seniors.
Most adults with no skin conditions experience cell renewal every 28 days, though there is a debate in the scientific skincare community about how possible it is to accurately calculate skin cell renewal because of the various types of cells found in our skin and their individual renewal rates, but 28-30 days is the generally accepted and researched number for most adults.
For many, the dead skin cells on the surface are naturally removed through contact with clothing and other objects (yes, your clothes manually exfoliate your skin and your dead skin cells are chilling on your clothes and everything around you. Right now. LOL), but, this form of exfoliation isn’t enough. This is where texture happens. When you’re producing more dead skin cells than you’re removing from your skin. Texture gets even worse in the summer because of the heat and sweat.
How do you treat texture?
One word. Exfoliate. That’s the key to treating texture. Seriously. There’s no big secret, it’s simply all about how frequently you exfoliate and with what. Exfoliation works by promoting cell renewal and getting rid of the glue-like substance that holds your skin cells together, which then allows your skin to let go of those dead skin cells that are trapped. Salicylic acid and glycolic acid are really the best for texture, but nearly any form of chemical exfoliation will treat it. Those two will just be quicker and are more effective for texture because of their molecular size that allows them to penetrate deeply. A mixture of chemical exfoliation and occasional physical exfoliation to slough off the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin will yield the best results.
After exfoliating, you need to hydrate, moisturize, and protect to promote a healthy barrier and allow your skin to renew cells as it should. Attempting to treat texture while your barrier is dry and damaged will not work. Hydrate, exfoliate, hydrate again, moisturize, and protect. Below are products (in no specific order) I swear by that have treated and been consistently preventing my texture for over 8 weeks, some for over a year. Every single product listed here can be purchased through clicking its respective title.
Full disclosure: I received this product as a press sample, but this is not a paid review. Now, I normally don’t get all excited about products without giving them at least 3-4 weeks to work, but this is an exception. I kid you not when I say the results were visible with just one use of the Régénérer Night Creme. I woke up with the softest and firmest skin I had ever felt in months and my texture was quite literally gone.
About 6 days into using the night creme consecutively, I noticed my skin begin to peel and flake, which, according to the owner of the brand, is expected and normal. Mostly comprised of oils high in essential fatty acids, when my skin began to peel, I gave it about a day off from the night creme and then went in with my next texture holy grail product, the Delish Condish Microdermabrasion-In-A-Jar to slough all those dead skin cells off.
Delish Condish Microdermabrasion-In-A-Jar, $25 USD
Full disclosure: I received this product as a press sample, but this is not a paid review. Microdermabrasions are treatments done by estheticians that provide instant results for texture. They also treat a few other concerns such as fine lines and hyperpigmentation. They are often costly and can have some downtime with redness. But they are absolutely worth it if you need instant results that are also long-lasting.
For those who can’t afford to get a microdermabrasion treatment done at a spa, Delish Condish, also a black-owned indie skincare line like Epanouie, made it possible for you to safely do it yourself at home. I really liked this scrub because it’s formulated with kojic acid, which is a powerful hyperpigmentation-fighting ingredient. It’s one of maybe 3 scrubs that I’ll use on my face, ever. You can also use my affiliate code ‘Caveofbeauty’ to receive a discount when you purchase from them!
A review of The Ordinary is long overdue, but I’ll soon be reviewing the entire line. I wanted to make sure I went through at least a full bottle of each product before reviewing. This was just to make sure my opinion wasn’t clouded by the fact that their products are ridiculously cheap. When I first used this peel, I felt the tingling but it wasn’t anything major compared to other peels I’ve done. I’d like to say right now that when you are using acids, just because you don’t “feel” it, does not mean it’s not working.
Immediately after washing the peel off, I applied the Cerave Healing Ointment and went to bed. The texture that was on my forehead was completely smooth by morning. The Cerave was crucial in helping my texture because of the ceramides which were repairing my skin post-peel all night long. Peels are more of a drastic treatment as they literally peel your skin (not always visible). So I really only recommend them to supplement your routine, but don’t depend on them to treat your texture. Your daily routine should do that and peels should only amplify and enhance those results.
Warning: Do NOT use a peel without an established and healthy routine. It will burn your skin and damage your moisture barrier and set you back on achieving your results. Also, if you’re a beginner, see an esthetician for a peel. Don’t do it at home. Peels are acids that can burn right through your skin the same way any other non-cosmetic acids can.
I’m not the biggest fan of clean and clear and I’ve sworn them off for years, but this product right here? It’s never leaving my side for as long as I care about my skin. So, forever. You’ll have to pry this out of my cold, dead hands LOL. It’s one of the main products that’s contributed to me not breaking out for over 6 weeks straight. Not a single pimple or clogged pore. It’s also what I now use every other day to prevent my texture. It has 2% salicylic acid which is perfect to keep your pores unclogged every day, without excessively drying your skin. It dries down clear and it’s super lightweight, so you can wear it under makeup.
This is another product you’ll have to pry from me. Differin gel was previously available only via prescription, but recently, the 0.1% version only was made available over-the-counter. It’s a retinoid, and retinoids work by increasing your skin cell turnover rate which is exactly what treats texture. I prefer Differin because it’s an adapalene solution and although it’s a retinoid, it’s not as harsh as other retinoids.
A study found adapalene to be more effective than tretinoin, the most popular retinoid, but cause significantly less irritation. With retinoids, it’s really easy to experience retinoid dependency or retinoid dermatitis, so it’s best to only use them if your concerns are severe. I use Differin about 3 times a week just for continuous prevention of texture and acne, but even then, I’m slowly beginning to stop using it because it’s done its job fully now.
The Nip and Fab brand has been a favorite of mine for years now. I’ve reviewed their Glycolic Fix range and their Dragon’s Blood Fix line in previous posts. They simply never fail to amaze. This is one of the few products on the market that claim to work overnight, that *actually* work overnight. You’ll see instant overnight results with this mask, granted your skin’s barrier is healthy. If you’re a beginner to acids, I would not recommend it as it can easily irritate your skin. Along with treating your texture, it will also treat your hyperpigmentation (not overnight, let’s be real).
When using it, I would recommend oil cleansing, following up with a hydrating micellar water, and using a hyaluronic acid serum prior to applying this mask. I specifically oil cleansed with avocado oil, followed up with the Cerave Hydrating Micellar Water, then The Ordinary’s Marine Hyaluronics, and applied a decent layer of the mask and went to bed.
If you need more proof for how awesome this mask is, read this text my client sent me the morning after using it. The redness you see is scarring, not texture or acne. I have her full permission to publish this and include her images.
Another Nip and Fab product. Shocker! They really are one of my favorite skincare brands because of their consistency with how effective their skincare products are, and their emphasis on chemical exfoliation and hydration. This mask has hyaluronic acid to hydrate and salicylic acid to exfoliate. It’s another one that gives instant overnight results. the morning after using it, my skin was incredibly smooth and my texture was also nonexistent. It’s my favorite lazy night product to use because I simply oil cleanse, apply it, and go to bed. It hydrates and exfoliates, two crucial steps for treating texture. I love it for lazy nights because I know I’m still taking care of my skin without really doing much.
Last, but definitely not least, CosRx Blackhead Power Cream. Most people have heard of their Blackhead Power Liquid, which is a godsend for many people with blackheads, but their Blackhead Power Cream is rarely discussed. I purchased it on Amazon after a friend recommended it and it’s also become a staple in my routine. It’s formulated with betaine salicylate, which is essentially a really gentle form of salicylic acid derived from beets. This makes it perfect for daily use for all skin types as an exfoliating moisturizer for preventative care. Because of how gentle it is, you’ll see results but they’ll take a few weeks.
According to this study by Arch Personal Care Products, it takes a 4% betaine salicylate solution to get the same or similar results as a 2% salicylic acid solution. Though CosRx does not disclose the percent of betaine salicylate used, it was definitely effective for preventing and treating my texture over time. This also has niacinamide and honey which help with hydration and product absorption.