Feature Image by Amanda Dalbjörn

When your skin becomes dry and rough overnight, it’s hard to resist the urge to panic Google the causes behind your sudden skin texture changes.

However, before you start jumping to conclusions, it’s important to keep in mind that not all skin changes are worth worrying about. According to Dr. Ife J. Rodney, a board-certified dermatologist, aging and genetics are some of the biggest influencing elements behind texture changes (which we have absolutely no control over).

At the same time, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other concerning factors that influence skin texture changes. Dr. Rodney suggests that sun exposure and lifestyle habits play a big part as well. So we asked her to shed some light on what causes texture changes, and what skin care products (and smarter skin habits!) can help improve skin appearance going forward.

What causes changes in skin texture?

First, skin texture changes can vary in appearance
According to an article published from Stanford Health Care, uneven skin texture can be characterized by a buildup of dead skin cells that make the skin appear bumpy, rough, and dull-looking overtime. Initially, these changes may be subtle, however, as we continue to age, the pores become enlarged, and fine lines, wrinkles, and roughness appear, she explains.

Aging, without a doubt, is one of the biggest factors influencing skin texture changes. “As infants, our skin becomes more defined, and as children, we start to develop skin lesions called moles. As an adolescent, and after puberty, our sebaceous glands enlarge and become active, leading to the most common skin condition at this age, acne. This starts wearing off in our early ’30s, as we start to enter the aging process,” Dr. Rodney tells FabFitFun.

Once the aging process has started, Dr. Rodney suggests that the skin’s sebaceous glands shrink and the skin becomes dryer. Similarly, as our skin’s fat atrophies, we begin to lose volume, and the thickness of our skin becomes thinner over time, she adds.

“A variety of different genes and internal processes determine how an individual’s skin will age,” Dr. Rodney explains. She says that those who have a family history of premature aging are more predisposed to experiencing skin texture changes throughout their lifetime.

While we can’t control genetics or aging, there are some factors that are within our control. This includes ultraviolet light exposure with sunlight being the main source. Yale Medicine states that long periods of time spent under the sun can cause wrinkling, as well as rough and uneven skin texture.

To protect your skin against photoaging, Dr. Rodney says that the single most important thing you can do is to consistently use a broad-spectrum physical sunscreen every day. And, yes, this extends to the days when you plan to stay at home, as the harmful rays of the sun can also penetrate window glass, she adds.

Lifestyle choices
One lifestyle choice that definitely leads to rough, damaged skin is smoking, according to Dr. Rodney, as the toxins present in cigarette smoke further degrade the skin’s collagen and elastic fibers, accelerating the aging process as a result.

How can you help improve your skin’s appearance?

Incorporate vitamin C and retinol
Although there are plenty of in-office treatment options that can be administered by a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Rodney tells FabFitFun that you can improve skin texture by incorporating ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol, which prevents collagen loss and promotes new skin growth.

Dr. Rodney adds, “Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help to reduce oxygen free radicals that damage skin’s collagen. Retinol works differently by stimulating collagen growth and speeding up cell turnover of the top layers of the skin. This helps get rid of rough and dry skin to reveal smooth, new skin.”

Be mindful of exfoliation
Sometimes, in an attempt to achieve smoother and younger-looking skin, people may exfoliate the skin too aggressively with scrubs, skin brushes, or at-home chemical peels. When used incorrectly, these products can actually do more harm than good, as your skin may become thickened and rough in response to over-exfoliation, she explains.

However, that does not mean you can’t use exfoliating products at all. Dr. Rodney advises using an exfoliating cleanser once a week, and then gradually increasing your use to two or three times a week, as long as your skin can handle it.

When in doubt, seek out guidance from a dermatologist
Although skin texture changes happen gradually over time, if you begin to notice a sudden change in your skin’s texture, you should probably see a dermatologist, as this may be an indicator of something more serious, according to Dr. Rodney.

“Sometimes, instant skin changes could be due to an allergic reaction, or they could even be an early sign of an internal disease like diabetes mellitus,” she says. “If the changes that you notice are due to normal aging or sun exposure, your dermatologist will help you figure out the best skin care routine for your needs, and can also discuss treatment options like chemical peels, laser skin resurfacing, or micro-needling.”

xx, The FabFitFun Team