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13 Best Lotions for Keratosis Pilaris

best lotions for keratosis pilaris
Blu Atlas

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The weather is getting warmer, so you’re pulling out the shorts and tank tops, getting ready for the summer ahead. But you’ve noticed red bumps on your arms and thighs and even a little on your cheeks (both on your face and the other kind). Tiny, rough bumps that look like a rash but don’t really hurt and aren’t itchy. You’re wondering what’s up. Is it acne? Allergic reaction? Constant goosebumps? What gives?

Chances are it’s a very common skin condition called keratosis pilaris, also known as KP. Harmless but unsightly, keratosis pilaris is a skin condition that affects many young people and typically starts in childhood and the teenage years. It may or may not last until adulthood. While not curable, keratosis pilaris can be managed with a combination of exfoliation – removing dead skin cells – and using effective moisturizers with calming ingredients to hydrate the skin.

This condition develops when the skin produces too much keratin, a protein your body produces naturally that forms the tissues of skin, hair, and nails. These white or sometimes red bumps are keratin cells that block hair follicles at the base and cause inflammation. This is why keratosis pilaris appears as tiny red bumps. The medical term for these tiny bumps is follicular papules. And while they aren’t bad for you, they can be annoying, particularly if you’re striving for clear, smooth skin.

Climate and time of year can actually play a small role in keratosis pilaris. You may also notice that keratosis pilaris worsens during the cold, dry winter months but improves or even disappears in the warm summer months. Cold, drier air makes the skin drier, leading to the buildup of more and more dead skin cells. But in summer, when the air is warmer and has higher humidity, your skin tends to be less dry, and these tiny bumps won’t look as bad.

Other contributing factors to keratosis pilaris are hormones and genetics. As with other skin conditions, like acne and eczema, keratosis pilaris can be affected by hormonal changes within your body. For this reason, many younger people in puberty and their early 20s are prone to keratosis pilaris. Genetically, if your parents have keratosis pilaris or are prone to skin conditions, you’ll be more likely to inherit the genes contributing to such conditions.

Regardless of the season, how can you make keratosis pilaris go away? A gentle skincare routine focused on adding moisture to the skin and exfoliating away dead skin cells should help. The best way to break down the plugs of dead skin cells so hair follicles can grow normally is by ensuring when you cleanse your skin, you’re using a gentle wash and following with a lotion to add moisture back into the skin. When a moisturizer has ingredients that hydrate and help exfoliate, you’re on your way to saying goodbye to keratosis pilaris.

Common KP

Keratosis Pilaris is a very common condition of the skin, and it is estimated that more than half of teenagers and more than forty percent of adults have keratosis pilaris. So, if you’re bothered by the unsightly tiny red bumps, know you’re not alone. In fact, keratosis pilaris has a lot of nicknames, like chicken skin, because it is so prevalent. Many people seek treatment from doctors and dermatologists for this common condition, but it can be treated successfully at home.

Research has shown that certain medical conditions and skin characteristics can increase the likelihood of keratosis pilaris. In addition to genetics, you can be more prone to keratosis pilaris if you have diabetes, asthma, and hypothyroidism. Additionally, people with fair or light skin are more likely to develop keratosis pilaris at some point in their lives.

Keratosis pilaris is most often found on the outer area of the upper arms. This makes wearing short sleeves and tank tops problematic for some people in the warmer weather. However, it is interesting to note that some moderate sunlight has actually been shown to help keratosis pilaris. Sunlight shouldn’t be mistaken for tanning beds, however. Tanning beds can cause serious skin damage and should be avoided.

How can you tell if you have keratosis pilaris and not a different skin condition, such as acne? One telltale sign is where the bumps are located. If it’s localized to the arms, things, buttocks, and maybe slightly on the cheeks, it’s most likely keratosis pilaris. Also, keratosis is typically not itchy like eczema, a dry skin condition.

Why Ingredients Matter

If you’re looking to simply slather a lot of lotion on those bumps and hope they’ll go away, you may be in for a surprise. The ingredients in the lotion you use matter significantly when it comes to keratosis pilaris. To break down those bumps, the lotion will need to contain a natural exfoliant such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, or urea, which are natural chemical exfoliators. To exfoliate skin bumps of keratosis pilaris, ingredients that help soften the glue that binds skin cells together must be present.

Once dead skin cells are removed, hydration is the next step. Using a quality lotion with hydrating, non-comedogenic ingredients that won’t clog pores or add excess oil to the skin helps keep bumps at bay. Coconut oil, jojoba oil, and aloe vera are ideal natural moisturizers that can hydrate and soothe skin without clogging pores. And because natural chemical exfoliators like glycolic acid have removed blocked pores, moisture is better able to sink into the skin’s layer and protect the skin barrier from further dryness.

With exfoliation and moisturization treating keratosis pilaris effectively, there are even more ingredients that can help. Ingredients that soothe and reduce skin redness can help keratosis pilaris skin look its best. Skin-brightening ingredients like licorice root extract and vitamin C can help improve skin tone, reduce discoloration, and make the skin look healthier.

Using the right lotion will help soothe, smooth, and treat keratosis pilaris. In time, those rough little bumps will diminish. Let’s take a look at the 13 best lotions for keratosis pilaris.

1. Blu Atlas Body Lotion

Blu Atlas lotion
Blu Atlas

Dry, rough, red skin needs special attention and Blu Atlas has the body lotion to address those issues. When it comes to the exfoliation and hydration of skin afflicted with keratosis pilaris, Blu Atlas body lotion has ingredients to help skin look clearer and feel softer and smoother.

One key ingredient in this unique lotion is seaweed. Packed with antioxidants, seaweed helps improve skin tone and reduce the appearance of skin imperfections. Seaweed, also known as Fucus Vesiculosus, is a popular ingredient in many skin care products to improve the skin’s overall radiance, provide anti-aging benefits, and promote a healthy glow.

But the skin benefits of Blu Atlas body lotion don’t end there. The lotion also contains shea butter, which is rich in fatty acids and vitamins and brings more antioxidant power to this lotion. Shea butter helps smooth skin and adds vital moisture to dry, depleted skin. Finally, with the addition of jojoba oil, the skin will absorb vitamins A, E, and D to gain hydration and nourishment.

All Blu Atlas personal care products are backed by a medical advisory board of dermatologists. Their products are over 96% naturally derived and contain no artificial fragrances. They are also vegan and cruelty-free, so you can feel good about the lotion you’re using to hydrate and improve the look and feel of your skin.

2. Amlactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

Amlactin lotion
Blu Atlas

With a high concentration of lactic acid, this body lotion works hard to break down keratin bumps which cause the rough skin of keratosis pilaris. It effectively assists with skin cell turnover and, once newer cells reach the surface, they stay hydrated with increased moisture.

Lactic acid is part of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) family. AHAs are popular in skin care products for their ability to improve skin texture and tone. AHAs effectively unblock pores, reduce dryness, and smooth the skin’s texture because they are both an exfoliant and a humectant, which means they draw moisture to the skin. If rough, red bumps are affecting your skin, this lotion is one of the 13 best lotions for keratosis pilaris.

While this lotion works well for keratosis pilaris, some reviewers do mention the scent is slightly medicinal. They also mention the fast absorption of this lotion, which doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue on the skin. This lotion is gluten-free and cruelty-free.

3. StriVectin KP Care Texture Soothing Body Cream

StriVectin lotion
Blu Atlas

Specifically formulated for people with keratosis pilaris, this lotion helps support skin barrier health. Its key ingredients work to smooth rough skin, reduce redness, and help the skin feel softer.

StriVectin KP Care Texture Soothing Body Cream contains two types of chemical exfoliants to improve skin cell turnover: lactic acid and maltobionic acid. Both gently exfoliate surface skin while helping increase moisture. This lotion is recommended for use with StriVectin’s KP Care Bump Exfoliating Body Scrub for the full benefits of a cleanser and lotion to treat keratosis pilaris. The body wash cleanses and exfoliates and the lotion continues exfoliation while adding moisture back to the skin. The result is smoother, softer, bump-free skin.

Online reviewers say this treatment helps the skin look and feel better and reduces the redness and bumpiness associated with keratosis pilaris. StriVectin KP Care Texture Soothing Body Cream is paraben-free and cruelty free and suitable for all skin types.

4. DermaDoctor KP Duty Lotion

DermaDoctor lotion
Blu Atlas

This gluten-free, fragrance free, and cruelty free lotion has glycolic and lactic acids to heal and nourish skin afflicted with keratosis pilaris. It also contains urea, a powerful humectant that draws moisture to the skin. For further moisturizing properties, this lotion contains ceramides to keep the skin barrier intact and healthy.

Another key ingredient is Cupuacu seed butter, which is a primary source of essential fatty acids that help the skin fight free radical damage from sources like the sun’s UV rays and pollution. The formula also contains green tea extract and licorice extract for an extra boost of antioxidants and skin-brightening benefits. Not only will keratosis pilaris improve, but the skin will also be nourished and more radiant with application of this lotion.

DermaDoctor KP Duty Lotion is ideal for anyone with keratosis pilaris and also dry skin. Reviewers online say their skin noticeably improved when using this lotion and they appreciate its non-greasy texture and fragrance-free formula. It is also gluten- and cruelty-free.

5. CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough and Bumpy Skin

CeraVe lotion
Blu Atlas

Heal keratosis pilaris and the bumpy and dry skin it causes with CeraVe SA Lotion. This concentrated, rich lotion contains Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells and restore skin to smoothness.

It also contains salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin B3 for deeper exfoliation and to help calm irritated, red skin. This lightweight lotion is ideal for all skin types and is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.

CeraVe SA Lotion Rough and Bumpy lotion is recommended for people with normal to dry skin. Reviewers online say it helps their keratosis pilaris bumps diminish with regular use.

6. Gold Bond Unscented Rough & Bumpy Daily Skin Therapy Cream 

Gold Bond cream
Blu Atlas

With seven moisturizers and different vitamins to help condition the skin, this daily body cream from Gold Bond can help smooth and reduce the bumps and redness of keratosis pilaris. Reviewers online report with daily use of this cream they saw a significant reduction in redness and smoother, softer skin.

This fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lotion is suitable for all skin types but especially helpful if your skin is sensitive. Skin-nourishing ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic acid, and gluconolactone help break down the keratin bumps by gently exfoliating the skin. To help moisturize and soothe skin, it has jojoba and ginger root extract.

Gold Bond Unscented Rough & Bumpy Daily Skin Therapy Cream is cruelty-free.

7. Tata Harper Resurfacing Body Serum

Tata Harper body serum
Blu Atlas

This body serum is made with face-grade skincare ingredients to completely transform rough, bumpy skin into a smooth and radiant complexion. The whipped, silky texture smoothes onto the skin and is absorbed quickly to hydrate and nourish keratosis pilaris-affected skin.

It contains peptides to help strengthen the building blocks of healthy skin, which are collagen and elastin. This serum also has vitamin C for brightening, vitamin A, and hyaluronic acid for exfoliation and smoothing. Online reviewers tout this serum’s light, botanical fragrance and claim their skin looks softer, less bumpy and red, and more radiant with regular application.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Serum is free of synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances, and toxins.

8. Peach & Lily KP Bump Boss Smoothing Body Lotion

Peach and Lily body lotion
Blu Atlas

From the neck down you can have smooth, bump-free skin with this lotion specifically formulated for keratosis pilaris. With Urea and alpha-hydroxy to exfoliate and smooth clogged hair follicles, this lotion visibly reduces redness and bumps.

Peach & Lily KP Bump Boss Smoothing Body Lotion also contains cica, also known as tiger grass, which is a popular skincare ingredient for reducing redness and calming inflammation. The moisturizing ingredients are squalane and shea butter. Additionally, this lotion has prebiotics, which helps support the skin’s microbiome. A combination of powerful redness-reducing, exfoliating, and moisturizing ingredients makes this one of the 13 best lotions for keratosis pilaris.

Reviewers online report that Peach & Lily KP Bump Boss Smoothing Body Lotion helps their skin look smooth and radiant. They also praise the light, delicate fragrance of this lotion. It is vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free.

9. Tubby Todd All Over Ointment

Tubby Todd ointment
Blu Atlas

With ingredients for exfoliating, moisturizing, and calming, this body ointment from Tubby Todd addresses all the annoying aspects of keratosis pilaris. One Ingredient, Camellia leaf extract, acts as an anti-inflammatory for the skin and helps calm and reduce redness.

This ointment also has jojoba to help soften and hydrate skin and colloidal oatmeal to soothe irritated skin. Because colloidal oatmeal is so effective for soothing dry, irritated skin, if dryness and itchiness are affecting your skin, this ointment is ideal for you.

Tubby Todd All Over Ointment is available in both fragrance-free and Lavender & Rosemary scents. Reviewers online love this thick, creamy balm, which leaves skin soft and hydrated but not greasy. Tubby Todd is gluten and dairy free and contains natural fragrances and is certified animal cruelty-free.

10. Cocokind Sake Body Lotion

Cocokind lotion
Blu Atlas

This lotion is made with fermented rice for gentle exfoliation. Fermented rice – or sake extract –  contains smoothing enzymes that help clear away dead skin cells to bring fresh, new cells to the skin’s surface. It also has microbiome-nurturing prebiotic sugars, another ingredient effective in clearing the rough bumps of keratosis pilaris.

Cocokind Sake Body Lotion works to naturally restore a healthy skin barrier and add moisture for softer, smoother skin. Sunflower oil, which contains a high amount of vitamin E, is ideal for conditioning the skin. Another moisturizing ingredient, shea butter, is rich in essential fatty acids to improve moisture.

All Cocokind products are vegan and cruelty-free.

11. EltaMD Moisturizer

EltaMD moisturizer
Blu Atlas

If you have sensitive skin but also keratosis pilaris, you’ll be reaching for this lotion daily. Quick absorbing, non-greasy, and excellent for helping skin retain vital moisture, this lotion smooths away rough bumps but won’t irritate the skin. It deeply hydrates dry skin and also relieves redness, dry skin, and rough texture.

EltaMD Moisturizer is free of parabens and is also fragrance-free. With just two ingredients, petrolatum and paraffin, this lotion creates a strong seal to lock in the skin’s moisture. With a lack of chemical exfoliants, this lotion will work well as a follow-up to physical exfoliation like a body scrub. Apply this lotion immediately after exfoliation when the skin is slightly damp for the ultimate moisture seal on the skin.

EltaMD products are cruelty-free. Reviewers online say this moisturizer helps their keratosis pilaris by hydrating their skin, and mention that bumps slowly fade away with regular use.

12. RX Systems Reparative Body Cream

RX Systems cream
Blu Atlas

Keratosis pilaris-induced red, bumpy skin doesn’t stand a chance with RX Systems Reparative Body Cream. This rich cream has a powerful combination of glycolic acid and alpha lipoic acid, which benefits the skin by neutralizing free radicals that cause skin damage.

To moisturize and help nourish the skin’s barrier, this lotion has glycerin, organic aloe vera, and vitamins. While the glycolic and alpha lipoic acids help exfoliate clogged hair follicles, the moisturizers in this body cream deeply hydrate the skin leaving it smoother and softer.

This body cream is specifically created for tackling keratosis pilaris. Reviewers online say with regular use and other healthy skin habits, their skin looked and felt better when using RX Systems Reparative Body Cream.

13. Lume Acidified Body Cream

Lume body cream
Blu Atlas

Mandelic acid is the key ingredient in Lume Acidified Body Cream. Mandelic acid naturally and gently exfoliates the skin and also helps reduce redness and improves skin texture. Free from parabens, lanolin, and mineral oil, which can cause clogged pores, this lotion can help reduce the appearance of keratosis pilaris.

Once dead, dry skin cells are sloughed away, Lume Acidifies Body Cream will deeply moisturize the skin. Online reviewers praise this Lume product for quickly absorbing into the skin and say that their dry, bumpy skin was restored to smooth, radiant skin in just a few weeks of regular use.

This lotion is also vegan, dye-free, and cruelty-free. It is also scent-free and will not irritate sensitive skin, so it’s safe to use on any skin type.

Keeping Skin KP Free

Once you’ve selected one of the 13 best lotions for keratosis pilaris from this list, you will want to take other healthy skin care steps to maintain the healthiest skin possible.

A well-blanched skincare routine will help your skin look good and help you feel good about how your skin looks. Great skincare starts with cleansing. It’s important to wash away dead skin cells, oil, dirt, grime, and air pollution from the skin. Wash daily with a gentle cleanser. Look for cleansers that have mild ingredients. Avoid cleansers with harsh chemicals or large granules or beads that can cause microscopic tears in the skin.

In addition to choosing a mild cleanser, also think about water temperature. Skin can quickly dry out and become irritated if water is too hot. Instead, use warm water when bathing. Immediately after bathing, gently pat the skin dry with a clean towel. Applying lotion at this stage, when skin is still slightly damp and pores are open, is the best way to effectively apply an all-over body moisturizer.

To apply moisturizer, use about a quarter-sized amount on your hands. Then rub lotion all over your legs, torso, arms, and back area (as much as you can reach). Covering the entire body with lotion will help lock in moisture and diminish the red, rough bumps of keratosis pilaris. Over time, these rough patches of skin will soften and the bumps will become less noticeable. The goal is to have the clearest, smoothest skin possible, so regular application is important.

Aside from cleansing and lotion, there are other ways to achieve great skin. You may not think about how food and exercise affect your skin, but there is a connection. With nutrition, eating nutrient-dense foods that are high in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins can help the skin at the molecular level.

Another lifestyle factor for healthy skin is hydration. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps your body maintain your skin’s elasticity. Skin that lacks moisture can look dull, have an uneven tone, and even become itchy. Luckily, skin dehydration can be helped by both drinking water and moisturizing the skin. Aim to drink at least six 8 oz. glasses of water each day.

Exercise is a lifestyle change that can enhance how your skin looks, as well as keep your body and mind healthy. Exercise increases blood flow throughout the circulatory system of the body. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells. With regular activity that raises the heart rate, like running, tennis, fast walking, or biking, cells are nourished from within and the result is glowing skin. In addition to helping nourish cells, exercise promotes healthier cells by removing free radicals to maintain their optimum health.

Finally, protecting the skin from the damaging rays of the sun is another way to maintain healthy skin long-term. UV sun damage can cause skin to lose elasticity and cause wrinkles as well as cause hyperpigmentation or sun spots. In addition to premature aging, too much sun exposure can increase your risk of developing certain types of skin cancers. It’s important to wear sunscreen daily on areas of your body exposed to the sun. Even in cloudy weather, damaging UV rays can break through the clouds, so don’t forgo sunscreen when you can’t see the sun.

Loving the Skin You’re In

Skincare doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Whether you want to get clearer skin and reduce the bumpy redness of keratosis pilaris or just help hydrate your skin for a more radiant look, a skincare routine focused on exfoliation and moisturization is all you need. Keep products you use daily as clean as possible and know the ingredients in each product. With some research and understanding of how ingredients work to help skin look and feel its best, you’ll have the glowing, healthy-looking skin you seek in no time.

Us Weekly partners with external contributors. All contributor content is reviewed by the Us Weekly editorial staff.

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