Keratosis pilaris (commonly referred to as “chicken skin”) has been plaguing me for years. Those pesky little bumps would pop up on my arms and legs, and I would feel so self-conscious of how rough and uneven my skin would look that I’d feel the need to hide behind clothes. However, long sleeves and pants year-round severely cuts down on my ability to live my best life, especially in the summer, so I quickly realized that I would need to find a better solution.
In my true overachieving way, I threw myself into figuring out exactly how exactly to treat keratosis pilaris, and I discovered that those small bumps are caused by a buildup of keratin, a hair protein, in pores that clog up and block the opening of growing hair follicles. My major takeaway was that I would need to use a delicate combination of physical and chemical exfoliation and rely on a lot of the skincare ingredients I already know and love. I tried just about every product out there that is marketed to combat keratosis pilaris, and with a combination of time (we’re talking months, not weeks here, so patience is key), I can pretty accurately say which of these products actually work (I am no longer scared to bare my arms!):
I have always been skeptical about loofahs as they never dry fully and are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria; however, the Luv Scrub completely changed my mind. Founder Caroline Owusu-Ansah based it on a bathing staple from her native Ghana, and it is essentially a long mesh towel that you would use just like a loofah. The main difference though is that the Luv Scrub easily rinses clean and dries almost instantly. After just one use, I noticed how soft yet effective the cloth was and, over time, how the gentle physical exfoliation unclogged my pores. I should also mention that the Luv Scrub is really long. I’ve always struggled to clean my entire back without doing a contortionist routine, and with this cloth, that is no longer an issue. Win, win.
I will buy just about every single product that Sunday Riley makes, as I have yet to try one that does not do exactly what it promises. This scrub has quickly become one of my favorites. The Charcoal Smoothie is packed with salicylic acid, lactic acid, detoxifying charcoal, and biodegradable wax beads, and is designed to get rid of rough skin, body acne, and that pesky excess keratin. The packaging is fun, and it smells amazing and leaves my skin so soft thanks to the high jojoba oil concentration, which is just a bonus when it comes to this product. My only downside is that the wax beads are a bit bigger than I was expecting, but they are surprisingly gentle and don’t irritate the skin.
This toning solution is the one product that I use all over my body. I usually decant the solution into a spray bottle, and once a week after I shower, I spray it on any areas that I am noticing bumps. It doesn’t smell great, but it works, and at $9 a bottle, I am willing to buy it in multiples and pour it all over my body.
I think we all know by now that you should always wear sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy outside or if you have a darker skin tone, but I am just going to gently remind you again. A lot of the products that help with keratosis pilaris are formulated with acids, which increases your skin's sensitivity to the sun; and exposure to UV rays can lead to hyperpigmentation, which is a whole other problem to tackle. As a Woman of Color, it can be difficult for me to find a sunscreen that doesn’t leave me with a white cast, but the Supergoop line is one of my favorites.