As we all know, the appearance of our skin and bodies can play all too big a role in our self-confidence, no matter how hard we try not to let it. Strawberry skin is one of those visible issues like blemishes that can be particularly tough to deal with both physically and mentally.
Strawberry skin tends to show up on the legs, so it’s not very easy to hide, especially during the summer months. You shouldn’t have to hide your skin to feel confident, though. There are ways to prevent and tame strawberry skin that can help restore not only the look of your skin but how you feel in it too. Keep reading to learn how to get rid of strawberry skin and what could be causing it in the first place.
What is Strawberry Skin?
When the pores of the skin appear darker or redder than the rest of the skin, it is called strawberry skin because the pores stand out on the skin like dots, resembling how the seeds of a strawberry stand out on the fruit. As anyone who has experienced strawberry skin before, or experiences it chronically, can attest, strawberry skin is not nearly as sweet as it sounds.
Below, we’ll share some of the most common culprits that can lead to strawberry skin, how to prevent them, and how to get rid of strawberry skin once it’s apparent.
The Causes of Strawberry Skin
Some people are more prone to strawberry skin than others. If you’re dealing with strawberry skin, it’s easy to just chalk it up to your skin type, but that doesn’t mean your situation is hopeless. No, it just means you have to be a bit more careful with the way you care for your skin to keep it from turning strawberry like. These are the major causes of strawberry skin you need to be aware of and how to prevent them.
Unfortunately, a seemingly harmless act such as shaving can lead to strawberry legs. People with dark, curly hair are no stranger to razor bumps or an ingrown hair, which, when severe, can give the appearance of strawberry skin. Additionally, though, strawberry skin can surface when the hair follicle becomes clogged or irritated after shaving.
If you experience strawberry skin most often after shaving, there are ways to try to prevent your skin from turning red and dotted. First, make sure you are shaving correctly. We know, we know, you’re no newbie when it comes to shaving, but for the sake of your skin, hear us out.
It’s natural to want to shave your legs in an upward motion, but if you’re experiencing strawberry skin, you can lessen your chances of skin irritation, razor bumps, and ingrown hairs by shaving in the same direction as your leg hair grows, not against the grain. Additionally, always use a nourishing shaving cream or oil as opposed to soap when shaving so your skin is soft and supple and the razor can glide right over.
No one is immune to clogged pores, which in some cases can lead to strawberry skin. Your pores could become clogged from products you put on your skin, sweat, tight clothing, or a combination of all of these.
Just as enlarged pores on your face collect dirt, and product buildup, so do the pores on the rest of your body. When enlarged pores on your body become clogged, they will appear darker than the rest of your skin, and thus can cause strawberry skin. The summertime makes us all a little more prone to darkened pores clogged with dirt and products; just think of all that sweat, chlorine, lotion, sunscreen, bug spray, and more that your skin is absorbing.
It’s important to cleanse your skin thoroughly and often, especially after working out, sweating, or applying multiple products throughout the day. It’s also important to implement an exfoliator into your skincare routine whether you have dry or dehydrated skin. Check out our blog on Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin to learn the key differences and how to properly exfoliate this skin type.
While not a cause of strawberry skin outright, dryness can exacerbate the problem. Dry skin is more easily irritated skin, which can lead to strawberry skin when combined with poor shaving habits or clogged pores. Keep your skin hydrated by applying a gentle moisturizer fresh out of the shower.
How to Get Rid of Strawberry Skin
We don’t often give the skin on our bodies the same attention we give to the skin on our faces, but when it comes to getting rid of strawberry skin, a little extra love can go a long way. Get rid of the red or darkened pores that cramp your skin’s style by adding (or subtracting) these steps to your routine.
Dark, clogged pores are no match for a good exfoliant. We recommend two types of the best exfoliators for strawberry legs: a physical exfoliant that will slough off the surface dirt and debris and a chemical exfoliant that will penetrate the skin that will loosen the bonds between dead skin cells to help them detach from the surface. Ideally, it’s best to exfoliate a day or two before you shave to ensure you rid your pores of dirt or product that could become trapped after shaving and lead to strawberry skin.
For a physical exfoliant, reach for our Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Body Scrub or Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish. Both of these body scrubs are gentle enough to use on strawberry skin and effective at ditching dirt and dead skin cells. Apply either one onto dry skin, giving yourself a gentle massage as you do, and then dip into a warm bath or shower.
For a chemical exfoliant, there’s no better bet than our AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum. This lactic acid serum will go beyond the surface of the skin to help dissolve pore-clogging problems that remain. Once you exit your warm shower, massage the serum into clean skin until it’s absorbed.
By incorporating this dynamic duo into your routine, dark pores and clogged follicles will be behind you. Plus, if you’re new to body exfoliators, you’re in for a treat. Your skin will feel super soft after exfoliating, so much so that you’ll crave the day you get to do it again.
Moisturizing your skin can have multiple benefits to warding off strawberry skin; it will not only prevent and take care of dryness but can also help soothe skin irritation and reduce redness. Plus, hydrated skin is healthy-looking skin, helping it function at its natural best.
After shaving, exfoliating, and showering in general, always apply a moisturizing body cream as our Atlantic Kelp Body Cream or Moroccan Rose Body Lotion. The former features Atlantic Kelp Extract to help nourish, smooth, and tone the skin in addition to Magnesium PCA to hydrate the skin. The latter features relaxing and soothing Moroccan Rose Otto, Palmarosa, and Geranium oils as well as shea butter, which is rich in natural vitamins and oils that help nourish and moisturize the skin.
Shaving isn’t the only cause of strawberry skin, but you probably know if it’s causing yours. We suggest being religious about everything on this list from exfoliating to moisturizing, but your very best solution is to shave less often. And when you do shave, shave with a high-quality razor and replace your blade often.
If you can’t cut back the number of times you take a razor to your legs each week, it may be worth it to consider another hair removal method.
There’s also a chance that dark spots pop up because you have darker hair than your skin tone. If that’s the case, ingrown hairs or clogged pores wouldn’t be the source of the problem. As a solution, some recommend laser hair removal, an epilator, or waxing. The epilator may be the best at-home alternative, since it isn't prone to causing folliculitis, unlike shaving or waxing. Whatever you do, don't swap shaving for tweezing or chemical hair removers as these can make strawberry skin worse.
There are steps you can take to potentially help prevent strawberry skin from occurring (beyond moisturizing and exfoliating). Below, find a few tips for softer skin and a smoother shave:
- Hot showers might feel amazing, but the hot temperatures can dry out your skin. Showering with colder water closer to your body temperature allows your skin to keep its natural protective oils.
- When shaving, pick a hydrating shaving solution or shaving cream. Doing so helps soften the hair and skin, leading to a smoother shave.
- Use a fresh razor. A sharp blade will outperform an old razor in terms of hygiene and closeness of the shave.
- While it may be convenient to keep your razor in the shower, this could lead to bacteria and rust developing on your blade. Instead, keep your razor in a dry area separate from your shower.
While strawberry skin isn’t nearly as sweet as it sounds, it can be managed with a little extra care and attention. If you’re mindful about the way you shave and consistent with exfoliating and moisturizing, you will be able to prevent strawberry skin most of the time and get rid of it when it does surface. Healthy-looking, clean skin is the key!
About the Author
Camille Poggi is a doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD.) and is passionate about skincare and how the skin works in general. She specializes in the cosmetic industry and worked for renowned companies in France like L’Oréal and Chanel before moving to London. After being a training manager for 4 years, Camille is at ease with explaining how products work in the skin and how to adapt her speech according to the audience.
She joined REN in January 2020 as International Training Manager and moved to the Research & Development team earlier this year to be the new Scientific Education Manager. A tailored-made role where she assesses and leads all technical communication and ensures scientific compliance is always met. She’s also involved in new product development from the earliest stages. Finding a way to create sustainable skincare products and making sure the message is properly delivered and understood is definitely a big challenge but also her favorite part working for REN.