Who Are You Calling a Chicken (Skin)?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My skin is the bane of my existence. I often get "You have beautiful skin!" from people, many of which are total strangers. While I really appreciate the compliment, I always think "You have no idea what it takes to control its temper." The truth is, my skin has been stuck in the "terrible twos" for pretty much my whole life. My scalp constantly defies me, refusing to love those beautifully scented shampoos I lust after. Not only is my scalp afflicted with seborrheic dermatitis, but a few years ago it spread to my hairline and nose. Sexy. Fortunately, the face part was remedied by a mostly dairy-free diet. But it took 29 years to find the trigger. My hands break out in tiny, itchy blisters which I now know is called dyshidrotic eczema. I think my trigger for that is stress, but I'm pretty sure I've had a breakout in the middle of a yoga class. My allergist gave me the oh so helpful "We aren't really sure what causes it." Oh, okay. Thanks for that. Can I have my $20 copay back?

The skin condition that really chaps my hide, however, is the keratosis pilaris on my upper arms (otherwise known as "chicken skin"). It's the least irritating of the bunch physically, but it drives me NUTS! Now that I'm aggressively working to treat it, I see it everywhere. The guy who sits in front of me in my psych class, the girl who makes my latte...it's everywhere! While I should find solace in the fact that I'm not alone in this, I don't (it's estimated that 40-50% of people have it...yep, I Googled it). I want it gone. Period. I've dry brushed, scrubbed, lotioned, cursed, prayed, and threatened to no avail. I still look like a plucked chicken. At its best, it's just a smattering of red dots. On a typical day, however, it's purple-y, rashy and red. Oh, and did I mention frustrating? I want to wear tank tops and display beautiful baby's butt arms! No fair!

While I've far from cured it, I've found some helpful products; which I will share with those who bother to check out my rambling, possibly incoherent blog. I will say that the number one rule of dealing with this is consistency. No matter how great the product, if I slack off for a week I see a noticeable relapse. The bumps start to reform and the redness is increased. Do it every other day without fail. Okay, at least 3 times a week. Most weeks.

KP Duty scrub and lotion:

These products contain physical and chemical exfoliants. They are pretty pricey at $44 for the scrub and $36 for one tube of the lotion. I've never tried the serum, as it seems unnecessary at $42 for 1 ounce. I just can't imagine that it contributes that much more. While the scrub is pretty awesome (and lasts a long time which makes more economical), I go back and forth about the lotion. I have bought it several times (they have a 2-pack which saves a little off the price) and it does help soften my skin and reduce the redness. That being said, I used a really rich foot cream someone gave me, and the results were much better in terms of softness and redness reduction. I believe that a good thick lotion, used in combination with the scrub, will rival or even exceed the results seen using this lotion. That being said, these products have helped me a ton...but as you'll see with most reviews, it's definitely not a cure and requires consistent use.  Bottom line?  The scrub is really helpful, but play around with different moisturizers and find one that is both economical and effective.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream:
As I mentioned above, finding the right moisturizer involves a little trial and error.  Because I felt like the KP Duty lotion might be a little pricey for what it does, when I finished the tube I started looking around for something that a) was effective, b) wasn't crazy expensive, and c) lasted longer.  First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream fit the bill.  It is super moisturizing and soothing.  I even use it on my face during the winter months when my skin is itchy and grouchy, or when my acne products dry me out.  My skin glows like crazy after I use it!  This is a great all-around moisturizer, but it also does an excellent job of soothing what ails my skin.  A jar of this stays on my bathroom counter year-round and lasts about that long.  The red bumps on my arms flatten out and the redness eases when I use this on a regular basis and in conjunction with one of the scrubs listed here.

Pre de Provence Dry Skin Foot Cream:
This is the foot cream I alluded to above.  One of my husband's longtime friends owns a beauty store in Bozeman, MT called Indulgence (it is a fabulous place if you are ever in our old stomping grounds).  Upon telling them about my kp woes during a visit, they sent him home with this.  I was skeptical at first (hello, it's a foot cream!), but they were definitely on to something.  Pre de Provence's Dry Skin Foot Cream is a thick, rich moisturizer with a minty-ness that makes my skin feel really good.  It definitely helps to soften the bumps and ease the redness.  I will never, ever question their wisdom again and it will stay in my kp tool box indefinitely.

Lush Ocean Salt:

I forgot about this stuff for a while and recently fell in love with it all over again. Not for the faint of heart (this stuff will not show your face any love), I feel like I'm really sloughing off some grime when I use this. I apply it to dry skin in the shower (without the water running), as the chunks of salt will litter the bathroom floor. Let it sit for a minute or so, and rinse off (the salt can sting a little if left on sensitive areas like your neck and chest). Your skin will feel like silk! A bit pricey at $35 for 8.8 ounces (and I like to really slather it on); but it is one of the few items I would recommend splurging on. I haven't found anything else like it, and it significantly reduces the redness caused by my kp (the properties of the salt, maybe?).


AmLactin is a drugstore find that is chock full of alpha hydroxy acids.  This stuff is not new and has a great reputation.  I have used it all over my body to help with bumpy, lackluster skin.  It can sting a little on sensitive or really dry areas, but it does an amazing job of uncovering healthier skin.  The thicker cream in the tube is what works best on my arms as it seems to penetrate deeper and stay on longer.  This stuff is readily available, so it may be a good place to start.  I wouldn't use it right after exfoliating until your skin is used to it, as the acids could sting.  I've been attacking my kp for several years now, so my skin isn't bothered by it.  Just be sure to gradually build up to this point like I have.  Overall, it is a great product.

Dry brushing:

I tend to do this when I'm feeling lazy. However, I'm always glad when I do. I simply give myself a once-over with this bad boy and instantly feel, well, scrubbed. It kind of gives me an emotional scrubbing, too. I don't own this actual brush (though I do love Ecotools products and own many of their makeup brushes), but they are super-cheap in general. I got mine at Whole Foods, who I find to be both wonderful and full of themselves price-wise; but I scored an awesome natural bristle body brush for about $7-$8 and it is still going strong several years later. It also helps smooth my arms (and every other part of me) and reduce the redness. I used to think "Dry brushing? What is this mumbo jumbo?" Now, I'm a word-eating convert.

While I know I am not reinventing the wheel here, I though I'd share some of my tried and true kp helpers. Since 40-50% of you are struggling with this, too, I'm sure someone will at least click on this post out of curiosity. And if you have reinvented the wheel and found a cure for this, help a sister out! Comment! Share!

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