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Strawberry Legs: How to Get Rid of Dark Spots on Your Legs

African American legs with Keratosis Pilaris

Strawberry Legs: How to Get Rid of Dark Spots on Your Legs


Let’s set the scene.

It’s Saturday morning. You got up early, had your workout, ate a great breakfast and now you’re showered and looking forward to some afternoon plans with a bunch of your favorite people.

The weather is perfect — sunny and warm, but not too warm, and you’re looking at your closet, picturing what you’re going to wear to feel cool and confident… and maybe to show off a little to the cute friend-of-a-friend you know will be there. Shorts? Mini skirt? Dress? All good options.

You pick out the perfect outfit, get dressed, check yourself out in the mirror, and you’ve done everything right… except your legs aren’t cooperating. They’re covered in irritating dark or red marks all over, totally ruining the hot girl summer aesthetic you were chasing.

Sound familiar? Then you may be struggling with strawberry legs, a sort of catch-all phrase applied to any skin issue that leaves you with dark marks and spots all over your legs. We’d go so far as to say it was Lana del Rey’s motivation for Summertime Sadness.

What Are Strawberry Legs?

Like we said, strawberry legs are more of a catchall than an actual specific condition. Strawberry legs are pretty common because a wide variety of things can cause them.

Folliculitis is one of the more common skin conditions out there, and it’s a major culprit when it comes to ruining your short skirt looks. There are many different types of folliculitis, and it can be caused by anything from a fungal infection, a virus or irritation. But the gist of it is sort of what it sounds like: folliculitis pops up when something’s gone wrong with your hair follicles.

Another common cause is your least favorite teenage companion… acne. Although you’re more likely to get acne as a teenager, it can hit you at any time. And because acne can be exacerbated by things like tight clothes, humidity and sweat, your legs are actually a prime target for your body’s most annoying skin issue.

Another potential cause of strawberry legs is ingrown hair! Ingrown hairs are exactly what they sound like — something happens to your skin and follicle, and it causes the new hair to get trapped below the surface. This can result in little bumps or blister-like pustules. Ingrown hairs can be painful, or at least pretty itchy, so this is one problem that you’re not likely to miss.

Some genetic conditions may make you more prone to strawberry legs, too. One of these is known as Keratosis Pilaris, also called “chicken legs.” Chicken legs occur when your hair follicles get clogged up by a buildup of dead skin cells. You get little patches of tiny bumps, but unlike ingrown hairs, these bumps shouldn’t be itchy or irritating.

All in all, while there are a lot of different skin conditions that can result in strawberry legs, they generally appear quite similar to one another, so it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of your problem. Your best bet if these bumps are getting you down is to speak to a certified dermatologist or other trusted medical professional first and foremost.

While strawberry legs aren’t actually a big deal health-wise for the most part, it’s always good to get a professional opinion… and to make sure you’re going down the right road when it comes to treatment.

How Do You Get Rid of Strawberry Legs?

Once you’ve spoken to a professional and you have a better idea of how to proceed, there are several things you can add to your skincare routine to help treat this problem. There are also a couple of small life changes you can make to reduce the appearance of strawberry legs.

1. Start Exfoliating

Whether your strawberry legs are caused by ingrown hairs, blocked hair follicles or clogged pores, exfoliation is a great thing to work into your daily routine to help relieve these issues. Using the Clear and Even Tone Body Cleansing Bar and Exfoliating Pouch can really help to scrub off dead skin and just overall get things flowing to help achieve a brighter, more even skin tone.

Particularly if you’re struggling with Keratosis Pilaris or ingrown hairs, exfoliating is key when it comes to reducing the appearance of your strawberry legs.

2. AHAs Are Your Friend

You may already use a serum or enriched moisturizer on your face, but what about on the rest of your body? Alpha Hydroxy Acids, or AHAs, are chemical exfoliants, which means they’re amazing when getting rid of old skin cells. Usually, your skin cells turnover every month or so, but if your complexion isn’t at its best, stimulating this process more frequently is a great way to brighten up your complexion and overall even things out.

Using Even Tone Smoothing Body Treatment after you shower and dry off can work wonders for reducing the appearance of strawberry legs. You’ll want to look for ingredients like Glycolic Acid or Lactic Acid to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

In general, but especially if you have sensitive skin, it might be best to start these sorts of treatments slowly — maybe a couple of days a week at first — and build up from there to make sure you don’t irritate your skin.

3. Moisturize Every Darn Day

Especially after adding a solid exfoliation plan to your routine, be sure to moisturize! New skin products can sometimes irritate the skin further, which definitely won’t help your strawberry legs. Look for a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic — this means that the product is formulated to avoid clogging your pores. Because clogged pores frequently cause strawberry legs, it’s important that you let things breathe, even when you’re adding more to your skincare routine.

It’s also a great bonus if your moisturizer includes...

4. SPF

We totally get that you may not have time to add so many steps to your morning routine. But this is an important one, so don’t skip it! Certain products and acids can make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage.

While it may be tempting to leave the SPF out when you’re taking your bare legs out for a beach day so you can get a tan, it’s best to be protected at all times. Too much fun in the sun can irritate your skin and exacerbate any redness. And you def don’t want to leave your strawberry legs behind only to find you have tomato legs now too.

5. Say No to Leggings (Sorry)

Look, we know they're some of the most comfortable pants that are socially acceptable to wear in public, and we also know that a good pair of leggings is the ideal workout companion. But tight-fitting clothing can be a big trigger for strawberry legs. Especially if your shower to departure time ratio is on the smaller end, it can be really bad for your pores and follicles to get them all riled up by shaving and then shove them into restrictive pants that can irritate things further.

If you’re trying to treat your strawberry legs, you’re going to want to look at flowing dresses or skirts, jeans with wider legs or soft trousers. Just think about your pores and hair follicles as needing to breathe, especially after they’ve been subjected to some abuse, like shaving or waxing. On the upside, it’s a pretty on-trend look!

6. Shower ASAP After Exercising

You probably do this anyway, but another factor that can lead to strawberry legs is clogged pores or dirt getting trapped in pores or hair follicles. If you ever go for a hike or a jog or a day at the gym and then meet a friend immediately afterward, or do the classic bathroom wipe-down dry shampoo routine to save some time… we’re here to tell you you’re going to need to stop doing this.

Even if you don’t feel dirty or smell, sweat and dirt from your workout activities can linger on your skin and get trapped into pores and hair follicles, especially if you’re swapping out your shorts for a full-on outfit without a shower in between.

It’s best to shower immediately after working out so that the totally normal build that happens when you’re working out doesn’t end up working its way into your skin. Even a quick rinse in the locker room is better than nothing!

In Conclusion

While there, unfortunately, isn’t a magic bullet when it comes to treating strawberry legs, there are many ways you can help reduce any redness or irritation and treat the underlying causes! The best first step is always to speak to a professional, but after you have a handle on what you’re dealing with, adjusting your day-to-day routine to be as beneficial to your skin as possible is pretty easy to do!

And next time you have the perfect sunny day and the perfect leg-baring outfit, you won’t have to worry about the best accessory of all: confidence.

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager