If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I’ve been suffering from very dry, red and irritated skin (which I often rant about online – sorry!) – which until about a month ago, I had absolutely no idea what it was. Having spent my teenage years entirely spot free – I guess my payback for that was to have problems in my twenties – as about eighteen months ago, I developed a bumpy, red rash on my face. Treated initially as rosecea and acne, I was given antibiotics galore (which played havoc with my IBS) and a number of topical steroids. Nothing worked and no-one knew what it was and so I was referred to a private dermatologist.
She immediately diagnosed it as Keratosis Pilaris, which I know runs in my family and with no apparent causes – tends to be genetic. It can affect anyone, at any age but it tends to be younger people that suffer – before growing out of it later in life (fingers crossed). The bad news is that there’s no apparent instantaneous cure. I almost cried when I was told this. I had pinned my hopes on them giving me a magical solution which would leave me with skin I could actually wear foundation on top of and not look ridiculous. However, this wasn’t the case. Along with the extremely dry skin, I’d have to figure out a routine that worked for me and hope for the best.
KP (or chicken skin – as it can be sympathetically referred to) is bumpy, red pores that are irritated and form a rash like skin irritation. Usually people get it on their arms or legs – which can be pretty horrid enough, however lucky me – had it on my face.
Fast forward a month and after the initial breakdown of being told there was ‘no cure’, I am finally feeling much better about my skin, my routine and my KP. There isn’t a magic solution, although my dermatologist is referring me to have Intense Pulse Treatment (a kind of laser which may help the bumpiness) – I have found some incredible products which DO work and aren’t ridiculously expensive which when alternated, really help.
I wanted to share my story not to brag or show off (although I’m not sure this even works in the same sentence as KP) but simply as a reference for anyone also suffering from KP or very dry, irritated and itchy skin. These are the products that have genuinely worked for me. I do use a lot – but the main thing I found when treating KP is not to let it dry out – to constantly have product on it and to wear make-up as little as possible when you’re treating it. I find that you have to analyse how your skin is on a specific day and treat accordingly rather than having a set in stone routine. I’ve used a mixture of the following:
The Ameliorate range was developed with KP in mind (as the founder suffers herself) – even featuring the tagline ‘goodbye chicken skin’ so when using this product, I knew I was in great hands. I do find that in-shower treatment is difficult to find, as previously – I’ve just used a fragrance free exfoliator on my face, thinking it wouldn’t irritate my skin when in actual fact – it hasn’t done an awful lot of good at all. This gently cleanses skin without stripping it of any natural moisture (which I need to keep as much as possible as the dryness accentuates the KP even more). It’s super easy to use and you can feel the affects as soon as you step out the shower (when usually – I have dryness and irritation within a few seconds of exiting). It’s soap and paraben free, so suitable for use on KP face/body even if you have a sensitive skin type and it smells really fresh – which is great if you’re using it first thing in the morning and need an awakening boost. Incorporating this into your normal shower routine makes the world of difference and since you only need a tiny 5 pence piece helping each time – a 200ml tube is long lasting!
Aqueous Cream is a common solution for very dry, eczema prone skin and is so gentle that it’s used on babies too. Bennetts have a great range of products aimed at targeting dry skin and adding much needed moisture, calming any irritation at the same time. The aqueous cream is something I use on a daily basis, either to wash my skin or to hydrate it after exfoliating. It is very thick and feels a little strange using it initially – but it makes a huge difference when incorporating it into regular use. If you’re a fan of baths rather than showers and don’t fancy sharing a relaxing bath with huge white lumps of cream, the bath drops are a great way to hydrate your skin too!
For me, the Eucerin 5% Urea range has been a complete life saver and a huge game changer with my skin. I was advised by my dermatologist to use this range and I’m so glad I followed her instructions. The Lactate, Urea and Carnitine ingredients help to break down the rough, dry and bumpy patches while also hydrating at the same time. Fragrance-free, it never causes any irritation and I tend to apply this and use it as a sole moisturiser for the majority of the week. The thicker solutions such as the night-cream and the replenishing cream can take 5 or so minutes to sink in, so bare this in mind if you wanted to use it under make-up however it seems to tackle the root of the problem rather than just masking the dryness. For someone that suffers from dry skin 30 minutes after initial moisturisation usually – this has changed my life completely, as I only need to apply it a couple of times a day (if that) for long lasting, soft and super hydrated skin. If you have KP – especially if it’s on your face, I’d recommend stocking up on the Eucerin range, even if you only use it alongside your normal products – you’ll notice the difference immediately!
If you prefer to wash with a bar of soap – and don’t have bumpiness as the main irritant in KP, then the natural mineral soaps from the Dead Sea range are a great solution. Made with olive, palm, coconut and vegetable oils, it helps soften skin gently and naturally – without any nasty chemicals or potential irritants. It’s a really affordable product to incorporate into your routine and is perfect for the natural healing of eczema, acne and psoriasis, helping to bring water to skin cells and stimulate blood circulation (accentuated by the normal movement you do when using a soap bar).
One of the major irritants in KP for me is the itchiness, which can strike at any time of the day or night and is really uncomfortable – as any make-up you apply will instantly be scratched off – or wiped away. I have to hold myself back at times from scratching, because I know it can lead to extra redness (which I don’t need) and scarring, so I avoid it as much as possible. Although other products have helped eliminate dryness, which has eased the itchiness, nothing has helped me more in calming and soothing KP than Hope’s Relief Intensive Dry Skin Rescue, which as well as hydrating, helps to repair and eliminate the itchiness. Cortisone free, it’s suitable for all skin types and all ages and absorbs rapidly, so it’s really handy to keep in your handbag just in case an annoying bout of itchiness strikes. The solution itself is slightly tinted, which I was apprehensive about – however this dries clear, so is nothing to worry about! Also: Enter enter HOPE20 at the checkout for 20% OFF all Hopes Relief products (except saver packs)
If you find your KP gets very red and hot (I find mine does, oddly – especially coming from outside, where it’s very cold, to inside – with heating blaring) then keeping a gel in your handbag can really be a lifesaver in situations where you really don’t want your skin to get in the way. In a soothing gel formula, this instantly takes any redness and flushed skin down to almost ‘normal’ and soothes any itchiness at the same time. I find that I alternate between cream and gel – dependent on how my skin is feeling, as I do find that gel can sometimes dry a little ‘tight’ if that makes any sense. The What Skin Needs range is worth looking into if you have any skin issues, as they have something for everyone!
If you find your KP is more psoriasis like – in the fact it’s patchy rather than everywhere (which I have on my chin) then this cream does a really great job of targeting that individually. With entirely natural ingredients, including Manuka Honey (known for it’s healing properties), it soothes skin from the outside and buffs away at any chapped, sore areas. I use this around my hairline, where I find I get the most dryness and scaliness (lovely description, I know) and it works wonders. So much so, I regret it big time if I forget to use it one morning!
As well as applying topical treatments, I have also found that exfoliating and cleansing using ‘machines’ or facial cleansing systems have really helped speed things up. I’ve had a couple which were in my review pile for awhile, however it was only when I read an article online about treating KP that I realised these things might help with my condition too. Luckily, I was right!
This machine embodies everything that is great about facial cleansing systems and bundles it into one product. It’s lightweight and compact, so very easy to carry around with you if you travel (I have found this to be a huge bonus as I’m always living out of my suitcase) and it caters for your skin type with three interchangeable heads. The bristle brush really gets the grit and dirt out of your skin, exfoliating at the same time while the silicone brush gives your skin a deep cleanse and removes any dead skin cells. The latex sponge removes any make-up and gives your skin a very polished, silky soft appearance – which I have found has really helped with my confidence (which plummeted due to having horrible uneven bumpy skin for so long). At £30, well below any competitiors, this is a really accessible product which really works well to do the job it’s supposed to do.
This is very similar to the Clarisonic that everyone raves about – however it offers more for your money with a range of interchangeable heads and is far more accessible. Although it functions as an epilator, I have been using it as a cleansing brush – using a Vitamin E oil to moisturise my skin with it, while simultaneously buffing away gently at the dry bumpy patches I’ve been suffering with. With two speed settings – it’s very flexible to be tailored to your skin type and really helps speed up the exfoliation without being too harsh. It’s super easy to incorporate into your daily routine (although they advise you only use it once a week) – and for KP sufferers, I would definitely recommend this as a treatment – even if you suffer on your legs or arms.
The PMD device is very different to the other products in the sense that instead of cleansing, it acts as a home microdermabrasion treatment, removing dead skin cells to expose new fresh skin underneath. It’s a little more intense than the latter so it should be used with more caution, but nevertheless is a great tool to help with KP. I’ve used this gently, a handful of times over the last month and have seen a real improvement a couple of days following. Essentially, within the kit – you get the personal device and a selection of different discs – ranging in intensity dependent on the sensitivity and state of your skin. The grey disc, for sensitive skin – feels a little like sandpaper to touch (but it’s not!) but upon application to your skin, simply buffs away to reveal a layer of less bumpy skin underneath. This takes a bit of practice, but it’s a fab product with amazing results – and a really handy introduction DVD which eliminates any queries you may have. If you have had a couple of microdermabrasion treatments at a skin clinic and have reaped the benefits, it may be worth investing in one at home so that you can replicate the results for a fraction of the price. At £150 it’s definitely an investment, but if you consider than one session alone can often cost that – you save money in the long term!
The Vitamins & Supplements:
I am usually a bit cynical when it comes to supplements, as the difference can’t always be seen straight away and I usually give up before I actually jump over any (metaphorical) hurdles. However, alongside the creams I’ve been using, I have been taking supplements too – and they’ve actually really helped boost my skin’s recovery – eliminating dryness and giving me an energy boost in the process.
Cited as the ‘skin health drink’, Dermaglo contains a number of skin-loving vitamins – in liquid form – as well as 10g of collagen, which is known for its skin boosting properties. Drank daily (each bottle contains no more than a shot, so it’s very easy to incorporate into your daily routine), I’ve been taking these intermittently throughout the month to replenish all the treatment I’ve been doing – such as microdermabrasion etc – which can certainly take their toll on the skin if not used correctly. Although it’s impossible to pin down exact results of the drink, these are certainly worth a try if you want to give your skin a healthy boost from the inside!
Having enough zinc in your body is vital for skin health, as it helps to regenerate new skin and keep it looking fresh, healthy and clear. Since taking one small zinc tablet daily, I have noticed a huge boost in my skin’s health and I won’t ever go a day again without taking one! Caroline Hirons – who I had a skin consultation with over LFW – recommended that anyone with dry skin take a daily supplement of zinc (alone – rather than hidden in multi-vitamins) to help repair.