Strawberry skin: do you have it? Strawberry skin often shows up on the legs in the form of small black spots which resemble the dotted skin of strawberries. The good news is that those black dots aren’t harmful. But they can make you self-conscious about your legs. You might find yourself thinking twice before sporting that little black dress for a night on the town, or donning that bathing suit for a quick dip in the hot tub.
But you shouldn’t let those little black dots stop you. You should get rid of them! We’ll explain to you just what those little black dots are and give you some at-home steps you can take to diminish the appearance of strawberry legs and help keep your skin looking smooth and even.
Strawberry skin often shows up after you’ve removed hair from your legs – most often after shaving. But what exactly is going on with these small, dark spots on the skin? Here’s the 411 on what might be causing them:
Enlarged Pores: Oftentimes, those dark spots on your legs are actually enlarged, dark pores. Technically, these dark pores are referred to as “open comedones.” They’re caused by too much production of oil, or “sebum.” Excess sebum can clog your pores, trapping bacteria and dead skin. Then, when the pores are exposed to the air through processes like shaving, they “oxidize.” Oxidized pores will appear darker.1
Folliculitis: Irritation of the hair follicles is known as “folliculitis.” It can be brought on by exposure to bacteria, yeast, or fungi. This follicle irritation can also be caused by shaving and the presence of ingrown hairs. After shaving, the hair follicles underneath the skin may have a hard time penetrating back through the skin again. The follicles may even curl up under the surface of the skin. This creates a blockage that results in irritation, redness, small bumps, and open comedones (a.k.a dark pores or blackheads).
Dry Skin: Dry skin may impair your skin barrier. What’s your skin barrier? It’s the topmost layer of skin and one of its jobs is to keep out foreign invaders and impurities that can irritate your skin.4 But if your skin is dry — your skin barrier won’t function as well. And a poorly functioning skin barrier can leave you more vulnerable to the risk of irritation caused by dull razors or certain chemicals in shaving creams.5
Keratosis Pilaris: Also known as “chicken skin”, keratosis pilaris is when the skin produces too much keratin and blocks hair follicles, causing bumps on skin to develop.
How to Get Rid of Strawberry Legs
Now that you know what may be causing this annoying problem, you can get busy addressing it. Just how do you get rid of strawberry legs? There are many easy, affordable remedies you can try that will get you ready to show off your gorgeous gams in no time.
Keeping your legs well-exfoliated is one of the best ways to prevent the appearance of pesky strawberry legs. Exfoliating the skin will help rid you of any buildup of oil, dirt, or bacteria.6 Keeping your skin free from buildup will mean less risk of redness and irritation. It also means that the buildup won’t oxidize after being exposed to the air after shaving.7 And remember – oxidized pores can cause dark pores.
Exfoliation also removes layers of dead skin cells. This means that hair will have a better chance of penetrating through the skin, instead of growing back into the skin, causing ingrown hairs or small bumps on skin.
To exfoliate, you can use a physical exfoliant with natural beads to scrub away layers of dead skin cells, revealing fresher, brighter skin.
You can also use a chemical exfoliant that contains alpha-hydroxy acids. Alpha-hydroxy acids are gentle compounds that stimulate the exfoliation of the top layers of skin. As a result, dull, rough skin is sloughed away, and renewed skin shows through.8
Shave With Care
Ingrown hairs caused by a bad shaving technique are one of the chief contributors to strawberry legs. Here are some shaving tips to help reduce the risk of irritated legs:
- Exfoliate several days before shaving.
- Soak legs in warm water to soften the hair.
- Use a sharp razor (throw old ones out!) and shave in the direction hair grows.
- Rinse in cold water to close pores, minimizing their exposure to air.
Keep Skin Moisturized
Well-moisturized skin is key to keeping skin healthy and free from irritation. Why? Well, moisture helps keep your skin barrier intact. When your skin barrier is compromised, you risk irritation. And that risk of irritation only increases after activities like shaving.
So, to protect your skin barrier, and help to avoid dark pores and strawberry legs, moisturize frequently. Not only will your skin be healthier, it’ll also be softer and smoother.
Try a Rose Water and Cucumber Paste
The combination of rose water with cucumber sounds like the makings of an at-home spa day. And indeed, this recipe is super-soothing for legs. Cucumbers are known to soothe irritated skin and reduce swelling.9 They’re also rich in vitamin C – an antioxidant that can work to protect the skin from irritation.10
Rose water is made from rose petals that have been steeped in water. Rose water tonics have been used for centuries in the Middle East to moisturize and beautify the skin. And for good reason – rose water has been found to calm the skin and inhibiting the development of clogged pores.11
To make the paste:
1. Mash one cucumber (you can put it in the blender).
2. Add a few drops of rose water.
3. Apply the paste to your legs, and let it absorb for approximately 10 minutes.
4. Rinse and repeat daily.
Aloe Vera Massage
Aloe vera is a potent moisturizer. In fact, aloe vera contains “mucopolysaccharides”. These mucopolysaccharides have the ability of actually binding water to the skin – helping to keep your skin well-hydrated. Aloe vera also has properties that work against bacteria and fungi – both of which can contribute to the development of folliculitis, “blackheads”, comedones, dark pores, and ultimately, strawberry legs.12
Simply massage a couple of tablespoons of aloe vera gel into the skin for about 5 minutes, then rinse.
Jojoba Oil and Tea Tree Oil Massage
Tea tree oil is a miracle oil that comes from the tea trees of Australia. It’s known to help keep fungus and bacteria at bay, and it can help reduce irritation and protect skin from the development of acne and clogged pores.13
Jojoba oil is a great carrier oil to use with tea tree oil. It’s exceptionally moisturizing, and it works to keep skin protected.
Add 2 to 3 drops of tea tree oil to a couple of tablespoons of jojoba oil. Massage the mixture into your skin, and let it absorb for 5 minutes, then rinse.
This sounds luxurious, and it is! Buttermilk contains lactic acid, which is a natural chemical exfoliant.14,15
So, the next time you run a bath, add one cup of buttermilk. A nice, long soak may just keep your skin well-polished, so you won’t develop any troublesome hair follicles or dark pores.
Get Rid of Your Old Loofah
All those layers of netting make loofahs an ideal trap for dead skin cells and bacteria. In fact, loofahs are infamous for harboring pathogens that can harm the skin.16 So, if you use a loofah to bathe, make sure you’re replacing it regularly. All that exfoliation can be counteracted if you’re putting bacteria and dead skin cells back on your skin – which can irritate pores.
Smooth, Even Legs
Now that you know how to get rid of strawberry legs, you can kiss that problem goodbye. These remedies and tips will help fend off irritated legs and keep your skin in tip-top shape. Now, where’s that little black dress?