Keratosis Pilaris: because weird skin things are good for page views.

myarmwithbumpsBehold my shoulder and arm! OKAY G’NIGHT EVERYBODY, THANKS FOR COMING.

Just kidding. You know you all mean more to me than that.

If you notice my arm is covered with little red dots. Ignore the freckles. That’s a byproduct of my youth. Probably specifically a trip to the water park when I was eight when we couldn’t really afford it but my dad did it anyway but did not sunscreen us kids but we all had such a great time and then the WORST case of sunstroke… Sorry. I think of that happy memory when I see the freckles. Anyway.

I have red dots. I’ve had them almost all my life. They don’t hurt but they aren’t going away. It’s called keratosis pilaris or “chicken skin”. I have the dots on my arms, stomach, and back of my legs. My skin produces too much keratin (what your skin and nails are made of) and the pores have the keratin in them and it makes a bump. The bumps don’t hurt and aren’t gross and prom-ruining like a pimple because they don’t get infected. Just bumpy. So the skin looks like red dots and is a little rough.

My arms used to be much worse. I went through life knowing I had chicken skin and sort of saying “whatever” about it. If it didn’t hurt, cool, and on to the next thing! Frankly, this is still my default mode.  Especially because there is no cure for KP. It’s just how you’re built.  But I started using a couple products that seem to be taming it, which is neat. Since I have a blog, and KP still seems to be a topic that frustrates many people, I thought I’d talk about it. Turns out that KP effects a lot of people. But a few disclaimers first:

  1. I’m not a doctor. Talk to yours. The reason I know all this junk is because I talked to a dermatologist and my parents took me as a kid. So yes. Doctors good.
  2. I haven’t been paid by anyone to recommend this stuff. I use it and it helps. Maybe it’ll help you, maybe not! I read accounts that everything from rubbing yourself down with certain oils to removing known allergens from your diet helps. They might. See point 1.
  3. I am blessed with otherwise pretty normal skin. I am not really dry or oily. Your mileage may vary.

Okay. So the first difference I noticed is when I started using Aveeno Daily Body Wash. It has a best rating at Beautypedia. (More on Beautypedia later.) Aveeno is a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner and my skin responded really well to it. It probably factored into half of my bump reduction. Really.


The second half is products from Paula’s Choice that use BHA and AHA. This stuff is my jam right here. I won’t give you the whole pitch for Paula’s Choice (as that’s what they have a marketing department for), but a friend recommended Beautypedia and down the rabbit hole I fell. Beautypedia I will absolutely shill for. Beautypedia uses science to recommend cosmetics. SCIENCE! I had been using something called KP Duty on my arms, more to just see if it would help than anything (Note:  it worked but cost an arm and a bumpy leg) and looked it up on Beautypedia. It got a decent rating but then they recommended a cheaper option: Paula’s Choice.

I should note that Paula’s Choice runs Beautypedia, which would seem like a conflict of interest. But having looked at it a lot now, they just look at the science and I haven’t seen anything that smells of bias.

Paula’s Choice has treatments that use AHA and BHA to unclog the pores and let the extra gunk out for not-a-million-dollars. I decided to try the treatment with 2% BHA and it worked really well! A couple days of using it and the bumps are flattened. The red is still there, but I’m not sure if that’ll ever go away for me. I actually use the 2% BHA formula on my face twice a day to keep my pores lookin’ good there, too, though Paula’s Choice says it is a Body Treatment. The wipes pictured above use both BHA and AHA. I must admit, I’m a bit lazier using the wipes because it’s a bit more involved (plus they leave me feeling sticky), but after using one on my arms they’re still pretty smooth days later.

The other nice thing about Paula’s Choice is that they will send you samples for free, which is awesome. Nothing sucks more than getting a cosmetic product, having it not work, and then slogging back to the store to make the return. You waste time and they have wasted a full size version of their product they can’t sell anymore. Paula’s Choice bypasses that by mailing you a few little samples. You make sure it works and no one is mailing back a 20oz bottle of whatever. Just give them a call and ask. It’s how I gave the 2% BHA stuff a shot.

I might not have movie star arms and that’s okay. I like how they look. Maybe my experience will help those with their own KP issues. Give my stuff a shot, maybe it will help!

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