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Because uneven skin texture can be caused by everything from clogged pores and dry skin to sun exposure, it can strike at any moment. And while there's no one-size-fits-all approach to smoothing things out, Dr. Hadley King previously explained to Elite Daily that there are multiple exfoliating ingredients that can help. When you're looking for the best face washes for textured skin, retinol, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and niacinamide are the key active ingredients that promote a more even texture and tone. It's also helpful to take other skin care concerns into consideration when choosing a daily cleanser. If your uneven skin texture is mainly due to excess oil production or acne, you'll want to look for a face wash that contains salicylic acid. The BHA is able to dig deep into the pores to dissolve the oil, dead skin cells, and debris that can get trapped in there and contribute to textured skin by causing breakouts and congested pores. For combination or drier skin types, go with a face wash that combines gentle exfoliants (like glycolic acid and lactic acid) with moisturizing and calming ingredients like panthenol and aloe.
Dr. Hadley King, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist, Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and founder of Dr. Hadley King Dermatology in New York City. Her research has been published in a variety of medical journals, and she regularly contributes her expertise to countless beauty and health publications.
Before You Get Started
One important thing to note is that most of these exfoliating ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Because of this, you always need to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30 or higher) before going outside when you’re using products with ingredients like retinol and AHAs.
You'll also want to be mindful that there is such a thing as overdoing it when it comes to exfoliating. Your dermatologist can help you create the most effective routine for your skin type and concerns, but if you're integrating a face wash to treat textured skin on your own, always check the back of the bottle to see the recommended usage. If your skin is sensitive or you've never used any chemical exfoliants before, start by using your face wash once every other day and gradually increasing to daily use based on how your skin reacts. You'll also want to follow up with a gentle moisturizer, and be conscious of the ingredients in the rest of your skin care routine, as too many exfoliators can irritate your skin.
Shop The Best Face Washes For Textured Skin
In a hurry? Here are the best face washes for textured skin:
- The Overall Best: SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
- Best Retinol Face Wash For Textured Skin: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum Cleanser
- Best Face Wash For Acne-Prone, Textured Skin: Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser
- Best Face Wash For Dry, Textured Skin: Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash
- Best Dermatologist-Developed Face Wash For Textured Skin: Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
- Best Powder Face Wash For Textured Skin: Tatcha The Rice Polish Classic
1. Writer's Pick: The Overall Best
My skin is already acne-prone, but when the pandemic hit, I noticed more clogged pores than I ever thought possible (something I'm blaming entirely on all that mask wearing). Since I refuse to give up my mask, I started adding this SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser to my nighttime routine a few months back. The gel cleanser has a slightly grainy texture that doesn't feel rough on skin, but its combination of lactic, glycolic, malic, citric, and salicylic acids is powerful enough to help dislodge any gunk that's built up in your pores and polish away rough patches. The formula also contains jojoba oil and panthenol to help moisturize skin, as well as licorice root extract and bisabolol, which are soothing (licorice root extract even helps with evening out the skin tone).
Active Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Salicylic Acid Other Beneficial Ingredients: Jojoba Oil, Licorice Root Extract, Panthenol, Bisabolol Size: 6 oz.
Relevant Review: “One of the few products that actually exceeded my expectations. [It] leaves skin feeling smooth and clean, [and it] seemed to improve the overall texture of my skin after a few days.”
2. Best Retinol Face Wash For Textured Skin
You've certainly heard of the many benefits of using a prescription retinoid or lower strength over-the-counter retinol. But the vitamin A derivative isn't exclusive to serums or creams. If you want to slowly try out a retinol product at home, a face wash is a great place to start because you're rinsing the active (and oftentimes irritating) ingredient right off. In this RoC cleanser, retinol helps to speed up skin cell renewal to remove the dead skin cells that can get trapped in the pores, while niacinamide can further help to minimize the appearance of congested, unevenly textured skin. To counteract any drying effects from the retinol, the drugstore brand has included soothing and hydrating ingredients like grape seed oil, allantoin, and aloe leaf extract in the cleanser, which only needs to sit on skin for 30 seconds to work effectively.
Active Ingredients: Retinol, Niacinamide Other Beneficial Ingredients: Grape Seed Oil, Allantoin, Aloe Leaf Extract, Licorice Root Extract, Arginine Size: 6 oz.
Relevant Review: “I’m 39 years old and have been taking care of my combination skin for years. However, I started getting [drier], textured skin recently and decided to try this product. After only two uses, my skin is so soft and way smoother. All I can say is “wow.” I will be trying other products by this brand.”
3. Best Face Wash For Acne-Prone Textured Skin
Because of its ability to clean deeper in the pores, salicylic acid has long been a go-to ingredient for treating acne. And because breakouts can certainly contribute to an uneven skin texture (and an uneven skin tone), this Paula's Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser was developed with acne-prone skin types in mind. There's 0.5% salicylic acid in this lightweight cleansing gel, which is still tough enough to remove makeup with a double cleanse. It's also non-irritating and even soothing to acne-caused inflammation thanks to its fragrance-free formula and ingredients like arginine and panthenol.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid Other Beneficial Ingredients: Arginine, Panthenol Size: 6 oz.
Relevant Review: "I usually have acne, like a lot. i recently started seeing a dermatologist and my skin has considerably gotten better but i still have those pesky little texture everyone gets once in a while. This cleanser is the best thing i have ever used for them. for real!!!! [...]”
4. Best Face Wash For Dry, Textured Skin
If dry patches of skin are what's causing your uneven texture, this Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash uses the brand's patented Tri-Enzyme Technology to gently smooth away rough skin as well as impurities like dirt and pollutants that can contribute to dullness. Papaya enzymes are what help to exfoliate, while conditioning ingredients like babassu seed oil, shea butter, and moringa seed extract ensure skin stays moisturized and smooth. You'll also find a mushroom extract in this face wash, which was included to help balance the skin’s microbiome.
Active Ingredients: Papaya Enzymes Other Beneficial Ingredients: Babassu Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Moringa Seed Extract, Vitamin E, White Truffle Mushroom Extract Size: 6.7 oz.
Relevant Review: “Wow, this is weirdly good! It left my skin feeling very smooth and calm. I get greasy skin and texture and this seems to have got rid of texture completely. I would definitely recommend.”
5. A Dermatologist-Developed Face Wash For Textured Skin
It's fairly easy to find AHA and BHA face washes because the chemical exfoliators are so popular when it comes to evening out skin. But for a formula that was developed by a dermatologist, try Dr. Howard Murad's AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. In here, salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids are paired with gentle physical exfoliants in the form of biodegradable jojoba beads to hydrate skin as it removes dead skin cells from the surface. The creamy cleanser is suitable for oily, combination, and dry skin types, and it only needs to be used two to three times each week to notice results.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid Other Beneficial Ingredients: Jojoba Esters Size: 6.75 oz.
Relevant Review: "After 2 weeks the texture of my face is improving. My skin is softer and smoother. Pores seem finer. I’m having no breakouts and my color is more uniform, no redness, dark spots are lighter. Very happy with this product.”
6. Best Powder Face Wash For Textured Skin
While face washes tend to come in liquid forms, there are also powder options out there, which are great for exfoliating. Tatcha's The Rice Polish starts out as a fine powder, but when activated with water, turns into a rich foam that uses Japanese rice bran and papaya enzymes to exfoliate without any grittiness. To nourish skin and further help to improve texture and tone, fermented green tea, algae, and rice extracts have been included in the formula. The Classic version featured here is best for combination to dry skin types, but the brand also has options for oily (Deep), dry (Gentle), and sensitive (Calming) skin types, too, for a more customized approach to exfoliation.
Active Ingredients: Japanese Rice Bran, Papaya Enzymes Other Beneficial Ingredients: Green Tea Leaf Ferment, Rice Ferment, Algae Ferment Size: 2.1 oz.
Relevant Review: “I’m someone who loves to try new skincare products so I rarely buy something over and over — but this is one of the staples I keep coming back to. Overall I have decent skin; while I rarely break out, I do experience some redness and have some visible pores. My goal is to achieve a smoother texture, and this polish DELIVERS. I use it a few times a week and every time it’s like my skin is brand new again — it feels so clean (but it’s gentle!), smooth, soft, and clear. This one is my secret to achieving perfect skin. You will see and feel immediate results!”
Dr. Hadley King, M.D., board-certified dermatologist, and founder of Dr. Hadley King Dermatology in New York City.