How To Smooth the Bumps on Your Arms and Legs–Once and For All


I’ve heard it in the media recently, “the body is the new face.” Many skincare companies are reflecting this by launching new problem-solving products for the body. I love this because as an esthetician, my job is to keep the skin looking smooth and bump-free. This goes for the skin on the face AND the body. Here’s my advice for doing just that.

Problem: Rough skin with red bumps (often referred to as “chicken skin”).

If you’ve ever noticed these bumps on the backs of your arms, thighs and buttocks (and sometimes on the face, more so in your younger years), you may have a condition known as Keratosis Pilaris (KP). This is a genetic condition in which the skin doesn’t naturally exfoliate. Dead skin cells then block hair follicles, leaving the area bumpy and red. It’s very common (affecting about 40% of all adults) and completely harmless. However, it can be frustrating in the summer when you’re exposing more skin in shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits as well as in winter (when it’s at its worst) due to less moisture in the air.

Solution: Dissolve dead cells by lowering the skin’s pH with a leave-on chemical exfoliator.

The traditional method of reducing bumps was to use a loofah or body scrub daily, but it’s important to know that KP is also a form of irritation (the redness or darkness is from inflammation at the base of the hair follicle). Physical scrubbing can actually make this even worse. Instead, the best way to accelerate the natural shedding process is to apply exfoliating acids daily to the affected area. Once the acid is on the skin, it works quickly. It absorbs deep into the surface layers to put the skin in an acidic state. This then jumpstarts the skin’s natural exfoliation process.

When selecting an acid-based chemical exfoliant, you’ll want to choose a formula that, in the very least, contains lactic acid. This ingredient not only loosens cells but is also a humectant. This means it provides moisturizing comfort, which is very beneficial for Keratosis Pilaris. Ideally, the formula would also include calming agents, which deliver visible soothing and anti-inflammatory effects. When the product is used regularly, it will flatten the bumps and minimize the appearance of redness or darkness. I personally use and recommend Smoothing Body Serum for my clients. It is formulated with three powerful types of acids (lactic, mandelic and glycolic) that literally resurface the skin to give quick results. The serum also contains the soothing ingredients green tea, aloe and allantoin.

Give a boost of smoothing results by adding in a physical exfoliator such as a body scrub or loofah.

In addition to using an exfoliating acid serum, you can benefit from using a physical exfoliator like a loofah, dry body brush or my favorite DIY scrub. A scrub will actually lift the dissolved cells off the skin. BUT only use the physical exfoliator once a week, and don’t apply an acid exfoliator afterwards. The combination of the two may be too aggressive. Instead, apply a regular body lotion after physical exfoliation. With consistent use, the combination of chemical and physical exfoliants will help reveal smoother, silkier skin on the body in no time.

Even if bumps aren’t your issue, and dryness and flakiness are (which is all too common as we age and moisture depletes), the skin will greatly benefit from regular exfoliation. If your skin gets not only dry, but itchy, too, read this post for tips and solutions. Note: There are professional treatments that work on a deeper level to treat this condition, such as chemical peels and lasers. If my at-home recommendations aren’t doing enough, consult with a trusted doctor or skin care professional. If having smooth, silky skin is something you desire, I promise using regular physical exfoliators will help it look amazing!

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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Content found on Blog.ReneeRouleau.com, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.