Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
Have you ever been perusing through Instagram and wished ohhh I wish I had her skin, well, welcome to my world! For me having great looking skin has always been important to me, which is why I turned to a chemical exfoliator for my body.
I’ll start at the beginning. As a kid, I lived a carefree existence and then puberty hit and I started to notice things about my body like my hairy stuff, budding boobs, stretch marks, and other skin issues. And as a shy kid, I didn’t say much about my insecurities, just kept them to myself and wished for better days.
But as my teen years rolled in and all the other girls at my private Catholic school started to roll up their skirts to show off their legs I thanked God for panty house and super high knee socks because I was hiding something, less than perfect skin. I had something called KP (Keratosis Pilaris), although I wouldn’t utter that word until my 20’s, so I hid my skin and rarely wore shorts. I would pick at my bumps ( also ingrown hairs) and make everything worse.
The Beginning of My Skin Journey
And this is when I would learn about scrubs or physical exfoliants. I would scavenge through my grandmother’s beauty products to look for anything that would heal my skin—and she had scrubs like the cult favorite St. Ives Apricot Scrub which I used on my face and body. But nothing did get rid of my bumps and I just learned to conform to my new normal—no shorts or dresses (which was fine for me since I don’t like dresses that much anyway).
I tried scrubbing my bumps away to no avail. So I got more into beauty in my teens (my hair, skin, and nails). I attempted to absorb every magazine article on anything skin (some that pertained to me and some that did not)—-the internet was in its earlier stages. But this began my obsession with beauty!
Intro To Chemical Exfoliators
I would go on to learn in my 20’s that my skin needed more than a lotion, I would need something stronger and that began my foray into chemical exfoliators, the big boys of exfoliation!!!!
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “Exfoliation is the process of removing the topmost layer of dead skin cells. This can be achieved chemically, by applying an acid that dissolves those cells, or mechanically, by using a brush or scrub to physically remove the cells.”
Explanation: Physical Exfoliator vs. Chemical Exfoliator
So what exactly is a physical ( also known as a mechanical) exfoliator? It’s a mild abrasive like a scrub exfoliator or a brush, with an abrasive substance to aid in smoothing the skin and getting to that fresh brighter skin under dead skin cells. While a chemical exfoliator will contain AHA, or alpha-hydroxy acids ( think glycolic acid and lactic acid), or BHA, beta-hydroxy acids ( think salicylic aids) which help break the skin bonds to aid with cell turn over. Each will have there own pros and cons.
What are AHAs Vs. BHAs?
Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of natural acids found in foods, according to WebMD. AHAs include citric acid (found in citrus fruits), glycolic acid (found in sugar cane), lactic acid (found in sour milk and tomato juice), malic acid (found in apples), tartaric acid (found in grapes), and others.
Alpha hydroxy acids are commonly used for skin conditions such as dry skin, wrinkled skin, or acne. AHAs work by removing the top layers of dead skin cells. They can also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness.
And Beta-hydroxy acid — also called salicylic acid — exfoliates the skin, unclogs pores and can improve texture and color. It also helps with acne.
Physical Exfoliation: Pros & Cons
- Easy to use
- Helps move old skin
- Good for removing blackheads and clear up skin
- Abrasive/can cause tears in the skin
Chemical Exfoliation: Pros & Cons
- Dissolves dead skin & stimulates cell turnover
- Faster results
- Anti-aging properties
- Helps fade scars and total overall texture of the skin
- May add needed moisture
- Can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight
- May sting a little if applied to any open cuts (ouch!)
How I Take Care of My KP
Of course, we can exfoliate the skin on your face is a necessary step in your beauty routine, but today we are going to tackle the skin on your body. After years of struggling with my skin and scouring the internet, I concluded that I may have KP or some sort of follicle issue. According to the Mayoclinic website, Keratosis Pilaris is a common, harmless skin condition that causes dry, rough patches and tiny bumps, usually on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks or buttocks. The bumps generally don’t hurt or itch. Keratosis pilaris is often considered a variant of normal skin. People also call KP chicken skin (for some strange reason). So KP is a buildup of keratin that blocks your hair follicles, usually to protect skin from infections, which is why we sometimes get ingrown hairs as well. Dry skin makes this condition worse.
Skin Trip To The Dermatologist
After a quick trip to the dermatologist, she confirmed that I did have KP. Although my trip wasn’t very informational. She confirmed my KP and told me to use an exfoliating lotion, like AmLactin, (I have the prescription version) which you can buy at the drugstore. I wanted her to give me a little more info but before I knew it she was off to her next patient. The lotion works by breaking up the cells that cause the blockages in your skin, hence causing a bump.
I’ve been using 12% Ammonium Lactate ( my prescription, the generic version of AmLactin) for almost a year now and my skin is so much smoother. I have less red bumps, but I still get some bumps ( and I have a few scars from some bumps I’ve picked) and decided to search around for something new and I landed on two products the CeraVe SA Body Wash for Rough & Bumpy Skin ( made for people like me with KP) and more recently the SkinFix Resurface+ Glycolic Renewing Scrub (above). I use the AmLactin and CeraVe body wash daily and leave the Skinfix for 1-2 times a week.
The CeraVe brand has a few products in their rough skin line like the CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin and the CeraVe SA Cream for Rough & Bumpy Skin ( both I’ve tried, but I’m always looking for newer products and often leave others behind I may revisit these products in the future.)
Natural Remedy for KP
Some people want to go a more natural routine and I completely understand that. I’ve heard that coconut oil is good for the skin since it contains Lauric Acid, known to help with inflammation.
Side note: Always use SPF especially after a chemical exfoliator since your skin will be extra sensitive to the sun. And always check with your doctor/dermatologist before starting a skincare regimen you may have questions about. KP is not curable, but treatable. Now while I do have KP this regimen could work for anyone who wants softer smoother skin, you don’t have to have KP or dry skin. I feel more confident in my naked skin.