1. Less is more
According to Dr. Jessica Krant, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Dermatology, the first step to smoother skin is to stop doing everything you’re doing now.
“Remember that sometimes less is more. With all the constant marketing of anti-aging products and systems now, sometimes we think the more we do, the younger we’ll get. Sadly, sometimes that can work against you. Too many anti-aging products or procedures can actually make the skin more irritated, red, and flaky and produce the appearance of more fine lines due to deep dryness and microscopic swelling. So first, stop everything.”
2. Wash less
You may think the key to smooth skin is a super clean face, but that’s not true. In fact, too much washing will probably do more damage than good. “It’s important to gently remove makeup and actual dirt from the skin, but it’s a bit of a myth that we have to scrub ourselves squeaky clean two or three times daily,” says Krant. “Sometimes overwashing can produce the same overdryness and irritation that anti-aging products can create. When we wash too much and strip away the skin’s natural, healthy, moisturizing oils, we create redness and flakiness, and the skin actually gets a counterproductive signal to start producing more oil to keep itself protected. This is how we can end up both dry and oily at the same time. Reduce the amount of cleansing and let the skin relax.”
3. Don’t squeeze
We know it’s tempting to squeeze and pick at any zits that happen to show up on your face, but don’t. “Manage acne gently, with help from your dermatologist, not your fingertips,” says Krant. “Anything you pick and and try to solve yourself will only last much longer and risk being permanently scarred. The right dermatologist can help you with an easy, ongoing preventive regimen that will help more.”
4. Exfoliate (but not too much)
If you really want smooth skin, get rid of the dead, flaky skin on the surface. “It’s a myth that exfoliation can dry or thin the skin,” says healthy skin care expert and Skin Authority CEO Celeste Hilling. “Regular exfoliation speeds up the cell turnover process, allowing the body to produce moisture-bearing properties like hyaluronic acid. Exfoliation also helps to plump the skin by churning up elastin and collagen production.”
Hilling recommends using a natural resurfacing agent such as glycolic acid to gently dissolve dead surface skin cells so they can be replaced with new, plump ones. Dr. Schultz agrees, saying, “Yes, exfoliating is important, but it must be with a glycolic exfoliant gentle enough to be able to use daily (yet still effective!) because the dulling dead cells re-accumulate each day.”
5. Clean your brushes
How often do you clean your makeup brushes? Probably not often enough. Dirt, grime and oils left in the brushes can cause breakouts, leaving your skin far from smooth. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to clean them yourself using a simple bar of soap.
Note: Steer away from scented body soaps and go for a natural soap like those offered by South of France Natural Body Care to remove the gunk without leaving anything behind. They’ve got all the steps for proper brush cleaning laid out on their blog, The Soap Dish.