Though keratosis pilaris is both harmless and common, if you’re looking to reduce the dry skin, itching, and tiny red bumps that are caused by the skin condition, there are certain soaps and in-shower washes that can help. According to dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, who spoke to Bustle for this article, the best soaps for keratosis pilaris contain glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and/or lactic acid. The expert says that a soap or cleanser with chemical exfoliants combined with physical exfoliation can be helpful, too, to further aid in getting rid of dead skin buildup, as can using a body brush or shaving brush while you’re in the shower. Try to avoid ingredients that have the potential to block your pores, such as shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, or soy oil, and use shaving gels instead of creams, Dr. Jaliman advises.
That said, it’s a good idea to moisturize frequently, because people who have dry skin tend to be more prone to KP. The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends taking shorter baths and showers, and using warm instead of hot water to prevent your skin from drying out.
To shop the best soaps for keratosis pilaris, including two picks from the dermatologist, read on.
1. Expert’s Pick: Best Soap For Keratosis Pilaris
“I recommend CeraVe SA often to patients because it has salicylic acid, which is good because it is a keratolytic agent,” says Dr. Jaliman. “Keratolytic agents, such as salicylic acid, thin the skin on and around the area where applied. It causes the outer layer of the skin to loosen and shed and helps with [KP],” she explains. This affordable, fragrance-free body wash also contains ceramides to support a healthy skin barrier, along with calming niacinamide and hydrating hyaluronic acid.
2. Runner Up
According to Dr. Jaliman, “The glycolic acid in ReTone Exfoliating Cleanser will unclog pores and help get rid of rough skin.” This cleanser also contains glycerin for moisture, microbeads to gently slough away dead skin, and other good-for-skin ingredients like apricot seed powder. Since alpha-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, can make you more sensitive to sun damage, make sure that you’re using sunscreen year round when you use an AHA body wash to treat your KP (though of course, you should be doing this anyway).
3. Best Scrub For Keratosis Pilaris
Dr. Jaliman gives this body scrub from DERMAdoctor the thumb’s up because it contains the AHAs lactic acid and glycolic acid, both of which are effective at helping to get rid of dead skin buildup. Additionally, this fragrance-free scrub contains hydrated silica for physical exfoliation, and willow bark, a natural BHA, of which salicylic acid is a derivative. Also included in the formula are soothing botanicals like evening primrose and borage seed to balance out the chemical exfoliants. You’ll want to apply this on dry skin when you first hop in the shower, then massage it in and rinse after a minute or so.
4. Best Soap & Moisturizer Set For Keratosis Pilaris
This trio of products from Glytone contains a cleanser, moisturizer, and shower pouf so you can really tackle your KP with complementary products designed to work together. Both the cleanser and moisturizer are fragrance-free, and made with glycolic acid and glycerin to soften and smooth rough, bumpy skin, while the soft pouf offers gentle physical exfoliation. These products can help improve your skin’s tone and general glowiness, too — though note that like most of the products on this list (aside from the one directly below), these are meant for your body only.
5. Best Face Wash For Keratosis Pilaris
Though it’s more typical to see KP on the arms or legs, Dr. Jaliman does see patients whose keratosis pilaris appears on their faces. Murad’s fragrance-free face wash, made with glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, as well as jojoba beads to gently exfoliate, is safe for use on the delicate skin of your face, but it still supports cellular turnover and helps smooth out unevenly textured skin. You could technically use this on your body, too.
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Dr. Jaliman says a body brush can be great for keratosis pilaris because it helps get rid of dead skin buildup. The Coolife Keratosis Pilaris Repair Brush is soft enough to help prevent too-harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your skin and make your keratosis pilaris worse. You can pair your brush with an exfoliating body wash just so long as you avoid scrubbing vigorously, the derm says. Instead, use gentle circular motions so as not to irritate the skin.
Dr. Debra Jaliman, M.D., board-certified NYC dermatologist, Assistant Professor of Dermatology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Author, Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist (St. Martin’s Press)