The surprising culprit: dehydrated and overworked skin. See, when you start using a new active skin care product, whether that means a chemical exfoliant or a retinol, your skin may begin to dry out for the first few weeks. 

Naturally, dry skin craves moisture. If you don’t replenish it with a topical hydrator, then your skin can produce excess sebum to fill the gap. 

Sebum is the sticky oil that clogs pores, which is most often what those tiny bumps represent. They may not turn into full-fledged inflamed pimples, but they do add texture to the skin and can be difficult to treat. 

What’s more, adding new products like retinol to the mix on a daily basis can cause inflammation in the skin, due to a damaged skin barrier. The hard part about treating these tiny bumps is that your skin may feel like it needs exfoliation, but it actually just needs a metaphorical glass of water. 

“Certain products to calm the skin and decrease inflammation can help maintain a healthy skin barrier during the purging period,” board-certified dermatologist Gabriella Vasile, DO, FAAD, previously told mbg about this type of skin texture

This logic applies to any time your skin is overworked, especially if you just started using a new active ingredient. So rather than throwing more exfoliants at it, look for hydrating serums and moisturizers with the following ingredients: