Keratosis pilaris, which also goes by the charming moniker "chicken skin," may not be a commonly discussed skin-care topic as acne or rosacea, but it's a skin condition that, according to New York City-based dermatologist Doris Day, affects an estimated 50 to 80 percent of adolescents and 40 percent of adults. I'm one of them.
For years, I didn't understand what the stubborn bumps along my upper arms were; I didn't notice them until my early twenties, and at first, thought they would simply go away on their own. (Spoiler alert: They didn't.) Cue me, in my shower, trying every scrub, peel, and lotion that promised smooth, bump-free skin — with minimal results.
Enter, Skinfix's Renewing Scrub and Renewing Cream, a one-two punch of skin-smoothing glycolic and lactic acids, plus other alpha hydroxy acids, to help minimize the appearance of rough, bumpy skin.
"What happens [with KP] is that there is a build-up of keratin — a hair protein — in the pores that clogs up and blocks the opening of growing hair follicles," Day tells Allure. "As a result, small bumps form over where the hair should be."
However, like acne and other chronic skin conditions, there's no real cure to permanently eliminate KP. "A consistent, gentle exfoliating and moisturizing regimen is important to help keep skin hydrated and unclog pores," Day recommends. "One of the most common mistakes is that patients focus on scrubbing and exfoliating, but forget to follow up with an effective exfoliating moisturizer, as well. This can cause rough and bumpy skin to come back with a vengeance."
That said, integrating a skin-care routine specifically targeting KP can help minimize the appearance of bumps and uneven texture. With that in mind, I set forth and began my journey of testing Skinfix's new duo: the Renewing Scrub and Renewing Cream.
According to the brand, the scrub, which features glycolic acid and bamboo polishers for chemical and physical exfoliation, is intended as a pre-shower treatment to be used on dry skin. "The motion of scrubbing can help increase circulation and stimulate skin cell renewal," says New York City-based dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla. "By doing this on dry skin, you make more direct contact between the scrub polishers and active chemical exfoliants, which makes it more effective."
The texture is moderately creamy, yet gritty without being abrasive — yep, even on dry skin — and after rubbing it in circular motions and rinsing it off, my arms already feel noticeably smoother. (I see you, Skinfix.)
"Based on their molecular weight and chemical structure, alpha hydroxy acids tend to have different exfoliating strengths and skin properties," cosmetic chemist Zoia Lascu tells Allure. "For instance, glycolic acid's molecular weight is the lowest, which makes it the most strongest alpha hydroxy acid, due to its high-penetration profile." That's science speak for: Glycolic acid is great for exfoliation because it penetrates the skin deeper, and therefore, more effectively, than other AHAs.
What's more, is that having a cocktail of exfoliating actives (coupled with hydrating ingredients) can help offset any negative reactions and boost efficacy. "Having a blend of low and high molecular weight AHAs helps balance the irritation potential and side effects associated with their use," Lascu explains. In both Skinfix products, there's a blend of hydrating emollients, like shea butter, to soothe just-exfoliated skin.
Knowing all of this, here's how I use the duo: After proceeding with the rest of my in-shower routine, I towel-dry my body and apply the cream, which contains fruit acid and lime pearl extract to gently exfoliate, while shea butter, coconut, and jojoba oils moisturize and prevent any irritation. Now, I'm not going to lie — this stuff is thick. And not just regular 'ol body butter thick, but heavy, apply-and-patiently-wait-for-it-to absorb-while-watching-Netflix-thick. (My movie of choice, since you're all clearly wondering? To All the Boys I've Loved Before, obviously.)
Within a month of using the duo — the scrub two to three times a week, the cream daily to affected areas only — I could noticeably see a difference in my KP. My upper arms were smoother, visibly less red, and the sporadic bumps along my forearms were nearly gone.
However, I know this isn't the case for everyone. If you have other questions about how to deal with KP, or aren't getting results with OTC skin-care products, Day recommends speaking to your dermatologist, who may be able to offer treatment options that you may not have access to otherwise. "We sometimes recommend Intense Pulsed Light treatments, in-office peels, and prescription topicals to help control the condition," she says.
For now, though, I think I'll be sticking to my scrub-and-lotion combo since, you know, it actually works.
The Skinfix Renewing Cream and the Renewing Scrub are available now for $22 and $30, respectively, at ulta.com and qvc.com.
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