We all want to have smooth, beautiful skin, but sometimes, factors beyond our control get in the way. If you’re someone who deals with a skin condition called keratosis pilaris (KP), you likely know exactly what we mean. Also known as “chicken skin” for the bumpy appearance it creates on the epidermis, it’s an unsightly issue that can be a real confidence buster. Though there’s no cure for KP, there are a slew of products on the market designed to alleviate symptoms and reduce the risks of flare ups. Read on to find out what they are and where you can get your hands on them.
What Is Keratosis Pilaris?
According to esthetician Heather Wilson, who spoke to FIRST for Women in July, “Keratosis pilaris is a condition in which the skin produces too much keratin, blocking hair follicles and resulting in dry, bumpy skin.”
Though it’s harmless and causes no medical complications, the tiny red bumps that KP results in can look like goosebumps and are typically seen on the backs of your arms, thighs, face, or buttocks.. They can also be mistaken for pimples. It effects an estimated 50 to 80 percent of adolescents and 40 percent of adults.
What Causes Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis pilaris appears as the result of dead skin cells that clog our pores and block our hair follicles. Though it can be a genetic condition (30 to 50 percent of patients have a positive family history, according to Medscape), it can also flare up due to hormones or other extenuating factors, including dry skin, asthma, eczema, obesity, and melanoma, just to name a few.
The Best Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris
KP can differ from person to person, so it may take some trial and error to find a treatment that’s right for you. It also requires routine maintenance with the proper products to ensure that skin not only heals, but remains healthy. If you’re ready to say goodbye to itchy, chicken skin, keep scrolling for FIRST for Women’s picks for 12 of the best treatments for keratosis pilaris treatments for smoother skin.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Scrub
Best Body Scrub for Keratosis Pilaris — DERMAdoctor KP Duty
Where to buy: $50, Dermstore
It's important to invest in a high-quality scrub to properly treat KP. DERMAdoctor's KP Duty is formulated by a dermatologist and combines physical and chemical exfoliation via compounds known as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, which gently dissolve dead skin cells. This fragrance, paraben, and cruelty-free scrub uses glycolic and lactic acids in conjunction with skin-smoothing beads to gently buff away the dry, bumpy epidermis that's associated with KP. Complete with green tea and willow extracts to soothe, this scrub works wonders on KP and is safe for all areas of the body, except the face.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Natural Organic
Best Body Oil for Keratosis Pilaris — InstaNatural
Where to buy: From $14.97, Amazon
InstaNatural's organic argan oil is cold-pressed and unrefined, meaning it retains many of its healthy antioxidants. As a result, it's one of the best natural treatments on the market for keratosis pilaris. It provides intense hydration directly to the skin, penetrating deeply to properly nourish the epidermis — something those with KP desperately need — especially after a scrub. Though intensely moisturizing, this oil is lightweight and fast-absorbing, making for an effective treatment that won't leave a residue behind. Best of all, this oil stays true to the natural in the brand's name with no added fragrances, chemicals, or preservatives — just 100 percent pure argan oil to help you say goodbye to KP.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Moisturizer
Best Moisturizer for Keratosis Pilaris — First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Where to buy: From $14, Dermstore
When it comes to treating rough, chicken-like skin, there's one moisturizer that reigns supreme: First Aid Beauty's ultra repair cream. Formulated with shea butter, squalane (a hydrocarbon that mimics skin's natural moisture), oatmeal extract, and eucalyptus oil to soothe and repair, this moisturizer is a dream for anyone with dry, sensitive skin. In fact, it was designed with psoriasis, eczema, and KP sufferers in mind. Its non-greasy cream fortifies the skin, locking in moisture and preventing further issues, and it's safe for use on every part of your body, from your face to your feet.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Exfolliant
Best Chemical Exfoliant for Keratosis Pilaris — Paula's Choice
Where to buy: $28, Amazon
If the thought of scrubbing your skin with a sandpaper-like physical exfoliant makes you cringe, opt for a more soothing alternative, like this skin revealing body lotion from Paula's Choice. This creamy lotion uses alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to aid in the gentle exfoliation of dead skin cells. As AHAs get to work, shea butter softens the skin and a rich blend of antioxidants, like vitamin C, actively brighten it. This special blend significantly reduces the look and feel of those hard, clogged KP bumps — at least according to reviewers.
Wrote one happy shopper: "My arms are softer and look better in general and the bumps are gone! I still [get] some red dots, but they're completely smooth and I've only been using [it] off and on for about a month. I just put it on at night and the next day ... my arms look great. Even my hubby noticed."
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Sensitive
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment for Sensitive Skin — REN AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum
Where to buy: $42, Dermstore
For those with particularly sensitive skin, finding a KP treatment that works and isn't irritating can sometimes feel impossible. Thanks to REN's AHA smart renewal body serum, your prayers have been answered. The star ingredient of this lightweight scrub is lactic acid, which is known to gently even complexion and revive dull skin. As it works to remove dead skin cells from clogged pores, a nourishing blend of probiotics reintroduce hydration and strengthen the skin's bacterial fauna, leaving only healthy, calm skin in its wake.
Best Drugstore Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Lotion
Best Drugstore Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris — Amlactin Rapid Relief
Where to buy: $23.62 (Originally $27.99), Amazon
Amlactin's Rapid Relief has been a staple in KP-fighting regimens for decades. It's beloved for not only its effectiveness, but for its under $30 price tag. Fragrance-free and non-greasy, this therapeutic moisturizer also uses lactic acid to gently exfoliate, while rich emollients and creamy humectants transform rough, dry, bumpy skin into a soft and smooth canvas.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Face
Best Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris on Face — NuCelle Mandelic Serum
Where to buy: $36, Dermstore
For those dealing with keratosis pilaris of the face, reach for this NuCelle mandelic serum, made with 15 percent mandelic acid. Derived from bitter almonds, mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that helps to eliminate dead skin cells, making it an ideal treatment for KP. With a dose of algae extract to further smooth and transform complexions, this is one high-tech serum you don't want to skip.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Coconut Oil Fractionated
Best Coconut Oil for Keratosis Pilaris — InstaNatural Fractioned Coconut Oil
Where to buy: $11.97, Amazon
Body oils are a great treatment option for KP, particularly when they're in the form fractionated coconut oil, like this one from InstaNatural. But what is fractionated coconut oil, you ask? Essentially, it's a refined version of coconut oil that always remains in liquid form, making it an ideal moisturizer. Naturally rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants, this product is nourishing and hydrating, aka the perfect addition to any KP treatment regimen.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Urea
Best Urea Cream for Keratosis Pilaris — Exipial Hydrating Healing Lotion
Where to buy: $45.99, Amazon
One ingredient dermatologists always recommend when it comes to shopping for KP products is urea, a chemical compound that's naturally produced in the body. Urea can break down skin buildup and clear clogged pores, but KP sufferers tend to be deficient in it. To supplement your skin, reach for Excipial's hydrating healing lotion. This hydrating, dermatologist-developed lotion replenishes your complexion with urea throughout the day, exfoliating and promoting overall skin health.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Body Wash
Best Body Wash for Keratosis Pilaris — Touch KP Exfoliating Wash
Where to buy: $30.95, Amazon
For the best keratosis pilaris cleanser, reach for Touch's KP exfoliating wash. This foaming, sulfate-free formula is made from a mix of exfoliating acids that will provide the deep exfoliating cleanse you're looking for without drying you out. With ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and aloe vera, it's ideal for skin impurities that begin deep in the pores and hair follicles, like those that cause KP. According to Touch, it's actually clinically proven to gradually clear skin, giving you a smoother, more even appearance after each wash.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Retinol Body Spray
Best Retinol for Keratosis Pilaris — Advanced Skin Therapy Aqualant
Where to buy: $36, Dermstore
We've spoken plenty to the power of alpha hydroxy acids for the skin, but there's another amazing ingredient you can use in the fight against KP: retinols. A derivative of vitamin A, retinols are anti-aging wonders that are super effective at treating KP thanks to their ability to promote cell turnover and prevent plugged hair follicles.
They can be harsh on epidermis, however, so if you're seeking a retinol that's OK to apply all over, we'd recommend this Aqualant body spray from Advanced Skin Therapy. Safe for both the face and the body, this light, moisturizing mist gently douses the skin in grapeseed extract, olive oil, vitamin E, shea butter, and, of course, retinol. Designed to be used after your shower on open pores, this is one smoothing, firming skin spray we're sure you're going to love.
Best Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Retexturizing
Best Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris — SkinCeuticals' Body Retexturing Treatment
Where to buy: $61, Dermstore
For a treatment that's designed to restore KP-riddled skin, pick up SkinCeuticals body retexturing treatment. This gel formula combines lactic acid, urea (the byproduct of protein metabolism in mammals that can treat certain skin and nail conditions), niacinamide (a form of vitamin B), sweet almond oil, and hyaluronic acid (one of the body's own natural water-holding molecules) to thoroughly and gently exfoliate skin while also reintroducing much needed hydration. Ideal for post-shower use, this all-over body treatment will give your skin a smooth, radiant texture.