Keratosis Pilaris, Chicken Skin, Strawberry Legs, Large, Dark Pores – call it what you want, you don’t want to see them on your legs, right? I have it also, my friend, so, let’s talk all about the causes and treatments for the so-called ‘strawberry legs’.
Listen, in a world where time is money, I’m just going to cut to the chase, so you and I are only going to talk about the real thing, the main questions, and concerns of Keratosis Pilaris.
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- How to Get Rid of Strawberry Legs? Let’s talk Treatment!
- How to Prevent Strawberry Legs?
- Some Final Words
Without further ado, let’s look at the most frequently asked questions one may have regarding this skin problem.
What is Keratosis Pilaris, Strawberry Legs, Chicken Skin…?
When browsing Google, looking for what exactly you have, usually people mean these symptoms when using the words “strawberry legs”:
- enlarged and dark pores,
- ingrown hairs
- dry, rough, bumpy skin.
Firstly, strawberry legs medical term is Keratosis Pilaris.
Keratosis Pilaris is a benign, chronic skin condition. It can be genetic, it usually occurs more in the Northern part of the world, as well as more for people with dry skin.
In general, Keratosis Pilaris means that your pores get clogged with a build-up of keratin and they give you a tiny bump over the hair follicle. So the skin isn’t smooth nor to the hand nor to the eye.
You may also call it strawberry legs if you have enlarged pores. And then you aren’t concerned with rough skin, more like wondering how to get rid of black dots on legs.
Since I am NOT a doctor, look more into Keratosis Pilaris with the definition at WebMD.
What Causes Strawberry Legs?
Well, since we talked about strawberry legs usually meaning: enlarged pores and rough, bumpy skin, then let’s look into why they occur…
Keratosis Pilaris’ cause is too much keratin. Which is ironic, because keratin is the protein that is supposed to protect our skin from bacteria and infections.
It basically blocks the entry to your hair follicle. This can then produce more ingrown hairs, as the hair has an additional layer to fight through to get out of the skin.
Enlarged pores are the result of a build-up of oils or “sebum”.
It’s the cause of too much oil being produced, which clogs your pores with bacteria and dead skin cells. So, when you shave, you cut the pores open and the build-up oxidizes, which then makes your pores look like under a magnifying glass for everyone to see.
When I first started looking into what I have on my legs, the perfect everyday example of how I could understand this build-up was to imagine floor tiles.
You know the grout between tiles? In time you don’t see white in the lines between the tiles, rather a brown or black color, which is a build-up of dirt. That’s why your hair follicle appears darker, it’s holding more stuff than necessary.
And finally, this clogging and build-up can cause folliculitis, in addition to KP or strawberry legs.
So, basically, ingrown hairs really have their own stubborn party when they can’t get out and they are being irritated with shaving in general (or shaving with a dull razor).
Does Shaving Cause Keratosis Pilaris?
Yes, it’s common to have dark spots on legs from shaving specifically.
After a few years of shaving experience under your belt, it can be more visible, to the point where it may seem that you haven’t really shaved, as if you have a five o’clock shadow on your legs.
That’s why I take exfoliating seriously paired together with a high-quality razor (more on both later).
Since we’re on the topic of hair removal…
What about Waxing Strawberry Legs?
Waxing can help to clean the build-up by pulling out the whole hair out of your skin. You can benefit especially from sugaring because it works also as an exfoliator to the skin.
Don’t know what’s the difference between sugaring and waxing? Check out my article on sugaring vs waxing, as well as the pros and cons of each method.
if you already know the difference between sugaring and waxing, then I still recommend you read this article on the difference between hard wax vs soft wax.
You’d be surprised how many people put themselves up for a more painful waxing experience just because they don’t know which wax is meant for which body part.
Can Strawberry Legs be Cured?
Yes and No.
Let me explain.
Keratosis Pilaris is a chronic disease, meaning it is a long-lasting disease, it may come and go (especially during winter, it definitely comes to haunt you then).
You can, however, definitely fight Keratosis Pilaris, but I should warn you right now that if you are looking for how to get rid of strawberry legs fast, then I’m sorry, but there isn’t a fast cure.
Same way how you can’t get rich overnight (unless you won the lottery, but the odds of that are…small)
You really have to be persistent to control the appearance of your skin.
Later on, we will talk more in detail about how to get rid of strawberry legs.
How to Get Rid of Strawberry Legs? Let’s talk Treatment!
As I said earlier, strawberry legs are manageable, you can reduce the appearance of them, BUT you have to religiously follow your chosen skin routine daily to actually see results.
Promise yourself that you will care for your sensitive skin with ultra-attention and you will win the battle between you and your skin.
Basically, the two (second is optional) mandatory points you have to think about are:
- Hair removal (optional)
Step 1: Exfoliating
This a crucial step. You have to remove the build-up so your pores aren’t so dark as well as you don’t have bumpy skin.
But before we move on, remember that high-quality products will be better because if you also have folliculitis, then you really don’t want to put cheap, low-quality products on the already infected area.
What is the Best Strawberry Legs Scrub, you ask?
Firstly, since you will most likely exfoliate more than the usual person, keep in mind that you should be very gentle when exfoliating. If it’s a scrub with small beads then use it every other day.
How to get rid of clogged pores on legs? For example, you may use a salt scrub like this one:
ORGANIC Exfoliating Body Scrub - “VITAMIN C SCRUB” - 100% Pure Himalayan Sea Salt Scrub
- Organic products.
- Essential oils for hydrating (jojoba, argan and almond oils).
- Gentle exfoliation.
- No synthetic ingredients.
- No parabens.
- A bit pricey for a scrub you will be using probably more than once a week.
If you’re like me and you don’t want salt in your scrub, then a scrub containing coconut oil or milk is probably the next best pick.
Coconut oil/milk has lauric and capric acid, it’s an anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal gift from nature. Plus it smells nice!
Like this one:
Kopari Coconut Crush Scrub - Brown Sugar Scrub With 100% Organic Coconut Oil
As I mentioned above, I’m not a fan of salt in my body scrubs, so if it was up to me, I’d pick this as the best body scrub for strawberry legs.
- 100% pure coconut oil.
- Paraben, sulfate, cruelty-free product.
- Very soft to the skin.
- Both exfoliates and moisturizes (which is what a person with strawberry legs needs).
- Shrinks the appearance of dark pores.
- Once again, a bit pricey for a frequent user.
If these physical scrubs do nothing for you, then you may opt for chemical exfoliants.
They should contain gentle acids as AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta hydroxy acids).
AHA is a group of natural acids, which can be found in foods. If you haven’t heard of AHA, then perhaps citric acid and glycolic acid are more heard of – citric can be found in, yes, citrus fruits and glycolic acid in sugar.
The most popular BHA is salicylic acid, which you may have seen on the packaging of face exfoliants.
AHA are water-soluble, whereas BHA are oil-soluble acids. AHA doesn’t absorb deep into your skin, which is good, as we don’t want more build-up. BHA, on the other hand really dives in, getting all the oil build-up.
For example, a good example of BHA is Aspirin. Have you heard that you can make a paste from aspirin and water, and get rid of ingrown hairs? Yes, good ole Aspirin!
Anyway, good chemical scrubs are:
Touch Keratosis Pilaris Exfoliating Body Wash Cleanser
Since it’s specifically made for people with KP, I personally think this is one of the best body washes for strawberry legs out there.
- Specially made for people with KP.
- Has both glycolic acid, as well as salicylic acid, as well as hyaluronic acid.
- Once again, a bit expensive.
Mario Badescu A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap
- Contains grapefruit and ginseng, which are not only good for exfoliating, but also for cellulite and stretch marks.
- The smell of it may not be to everyone’s liking.
You may, of course, be interested in finding how to get rid of dark pores on legs naturally, so let’s talk about products available in your kitchen.
How to Exfoliate Legs Naturally
Sugar + Olive/Coconut Oil
If your skin thinks salt is too harsh for your skin, try brown sugar and an oil of your preference. Once again, I would go for the coconut oil (I’m a sucker for its luring smell).
A good paste ratio: 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of oil. Think of the consistency of wet sand.
Bonus points for adding a few drops of essential oil for reducing itchiness caused by hair removal.
Apply on the skin using circular motions then wash it off.
Make yourself a cup of black coffee, drink it. Don’t throw away the coffee grounds. Rather, take the coffee cup with you in the shower. The grounds will be softer as they will have sat in hot water.
Bonus: coffee helps fighting cellulite.
Apply in slow, small circular motions then rinse off.
If these don’t help, I know it can be both physically and emotionally irritating, so see a dermatologist, ask perhaps if for your case a chemical peel for strawberry legs would be advised.
Do you know what else works wonders for exfoliating, cellulite and stretch marks? Dry brushing!
Here’s my take on dry brushing! Hint: I do love it!
Step 2: Hair Removal (optional)
As we already discussed earlier, dark spots on legs from shaving are a common cause of the so-called ‘strawberry legs’, it can be even more noticeable on darker skin.
You have to think, which hair removal method is best for you.
What I’ve found to work well for me, surprisingly, is a safety razor or the so-called double-edged razor, which are usually used by men for shaving their face.
Since I’ve been using a safety razor for about 2 years now, I’ve put together the ultimate guide to the best safety razors for women – I mean, EVERYTHING – how to use them, how to clean them, what to look for, and then some.
I’ve tried both men’s and women’s razors, with a lubricating strip or with a gel bar. And they’ve all given me a bad case of folliculitis, especially during summer.
It wasn’t until when I bought a safety razor that I started to notice a difference.
Why is it better? Because there is a single blade going over the hairs, rather than 5 single blades going over that same spot.
Think about it – which razor will tug, irritate the hair more? Will your skin feel calmer after a single pass or five blades passing over it? And usually, we go over one spot more than once.
That means, with a safety razor you’re going over one spot 2 (maximum 3) times with one blade, so overall it is 2 or 3 blades going over the skin.
Whereas with a 5-blade razor going over that same spot 2 or 3 times would mean that 10 or 15 blades will have cut the hair and skin.
Therefore I highly recommend you invest in a high-quality safety razor, better yet a safety razor kit. It’s a bigger investment at first, yes, but afterward, you only have to buy the blades, which are very cheap.
Trust me, you’ll be saving A LOT of money! I used to buy women’s razors which cost 10 dollars a piece and I had to change it frequently due to my sensitive skin.
I’m talking about saving hundreds of dollars and plastic materials!
For example, this kit has absolutely everything you need for a clean shave:
Gentleman Jon Deluxe Wet Shave Kit | Includes 8 Items
- Has everything you need, seriously everything you need.
- Heavy-duty steel, which gives it the perfect balance to smoothly glide over the skin without adding pressure.
- You will need to practice shaving with this kind of razor if you haven’t used it before. But it’s nothing that can’t be learned. Plus, there’s always YouTube tutorials!
Waxing / Epilating
If shaving altogether gives you a bad case of ingrown hairs or a rash, then perhaps a hair removal method where you remove the hair from the root is better:
Without getting too much into it…
Waxing and epilating are your best options.
Since there are oh so many options of epilators and waxes, you can read more about them in these 2 complete guides of mine on the best at-home waxing kits and the best epilators.
Laser Hair Removal / Electrolysis
Before you say: “WAY TOO EXPENSIVE”
Let me just say that these are semi-permanent and permanent (electrolysis) hair removal methods.
Didn’t know there’s a difference between both methods? Read my article on electrolysis vs laser hair removal.
Imagine the time and nerves you could save, plus a boost of confidence because now you wouldn’t have to worry about if you can wear shorts or dresses.
I mean, can you imagine your strawberry legs GONE?
I started doing laser hair removal for my legs in May 2019. The thing I’ve noticed most – no more folliculitis!
Since laser hair removal needs 5 to 8 sessions on average and you can have a session once every 4 to 8 weeks, then during those 1 – 2 months just put some money away you would usually use to buy razors, shaving creams or going to a waxing salon.
This is the plan I’ll do – just put aside the money I’m spending on shaving creams, razors, aftershaves, and other stuff every month.
If it’s a serious case of folliculitis, (as it was for my whole upper thighs) I would recommend looking into laser hair removal. For legs, definitely laser hair removal, as electrolysis is a longer and more expensive process.
With the 21st technology, there are good laser hair removal options even for use at the comfort of your home, so, read my article on the best at-home laser hair removal machines.
Just think about laser hair removal for strawberry legs. Please and thank you.
But if you’ve already decided to go for laser hair removal to a salon, then definitely read this article on the different laser types because there IS a difference. (Hint: not all of them can be used on all skin and hair types)
Step 3: Moisturizing
Very similar to exfoliating, you can get yourself moisturizers that also help exfoliate the skin a bit, while at the same time deeply moisturizing it, because as we now know KP is very common in people with dry skin.
Some of the best lotions and moisturizers for strawberry legs will always be products that contain alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and urea.
AmLactin Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy Moisturizing Body Lotion for Dry Skin
It’s been said that Amlactin lotion for keratosis pilaris is one of the best lotions for strawberry legs, and probably the first thing you should try.
- Fragrance-free (which is what I personally look for in all my skin products).
- Contains AHA.
- Exfoliates while still intensely moisturizing.
- I can’t find any, really.
Touch Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Exfoliating Lotion
Since we talked about an exfoliant from this brand, it may be a good idea to make it a set and get a moisturizing lotion from the same brand.
- Low pH of 3.5
- Fast absorption, no stickiness feeling.
- Made in the USA.
- Some have got a rash from it, if so stop using it.
Remember good old urea?
PurSources Urea 40% Foot Cream
- Works for Keratosis Pilaris.
- 40% !!! The higher the persentage, the better.
- Deeply nourishing and smoothing cream.
- Gives a matte finish, which some may not like.
How to Prevent Strawberry Legs?
In order to prevent strawberry legs, you, firstly, have to follow your skincare routine rigorously.
Secondly, some tips for maintaining a soft, beautiful looking skin:
- Change your towel at least once a week.
- Change your loofah or exfoliating glove either every month or every two months.
- Try dry brushing before the shower to get even more dead skin cells off as well as improve blood flow.
- Make your skincare routine and stick to it every single day, for faster results.
- Eat a balanced diet to manage strawberry legs.
- If you shave, change the blade frequently, very frequently to make sure it is clean and sharp each time. If it’s a safety razor then cleaning it is pretty easy.
- If shaving is your go-to method, always use either shaving cream or hair conditioner to moisturize the hairs and skin.
- If you use a chemical exfoliant and moisturizer (with AHA or BHA), then sunscreen is a MUST during summertime since the top layer of your skin will be coming off, it will be more sensitive
- Do everything with lots of LOVE for your skin, don’t over-brush, over-exfoliate, over-moisturize (which can lead to blockage), don’t over-abuse your skin!
And lastly, there are some other products that can be of assistance if you’re traveling or it’s just summer and you get sweaty. I think one of the best products for strawberry legs are these cotton pads filled with AHA or BHA.
Replenix Acne Solutions Gly/Sal 10-2 Pads
- Has both glycolic and salicylic acid.
- Great for if you have KP on the face.
- Good for clogged pores, excess oil and blackheads.
- May be too expensive for large body parts, like the legs.
Another great option is this:
Tend Skin The Skin Care Solution
If you’re looking for how to lighten dark pores on legs, then use this after your preferred hair removal method and be amazed!
- Really works, but only if you also use a moisturizer, because this will dry out your skin really fast.
- Reduces redness, ingrown hairs, and razor bumps.
- A bit expensive.
- Can’t use if allergic to Aspirin.
I’m not exaggerating when I say Tend Skin is a miracle worker (for me too), that’s why I wrote a separate article on just the products the Tend Skin company offers for us problematic-skin owners.
Some Final Words
My hope is that you’ve learned something new regarding strawberry legs aka keratosis pilaris.
This may sound as cliché as it can get, but please keep in mind that each individuals’ skin is truly different, some have allergies to Aloe Vera (so they cannot use the soothing and calming properties of the plant), while others are allergic to Aspirin and so sthey cannot use Tend Skin Solution.
For example, I have curly hair, it “only” took me more than a few years to learn what my hair reacts to best, while for others that product would be the absolute nightmare.
I’m still learning new maintenance techniques and products for both my hair on my head as well as my hair on my body!
Keep Calm and Unfriend Strawberry Legs!