Anar Mikailov, MD, has dealt with keratosis pilaris, a skin condition that results in bumps on the skin (often referred to as “chicken skin” or “strawberry legs”) since he was in high school. “I became quite embarrassed and tried to develop a tan every summer specifically to camouflage these bumps,” he says. Once he was in medical school and realized what the bumps were, he started the standard forms of treatment: chemical exfoliation with ingredients like salicylic and lactic acid.
“Dermatologists at that time primarily recommended various exfoliation approaches but my skin would burn, tingle, and not tolerate any exfoliation products,” says Dr. Mikailov, who is now a board-certified dermatologist in Burlington, Massachusetts. “Ultimately, I started a long journey to develop a non-exfoliation-based product that would become KPAway.
This skin-care line focuses on moisturization with ingredients like jojoba oil, squalane, and coconut oil.
“For my skin type–sensitive, eczema-prone–I can only tolerate non-exfoliation approaches that focus on repairing the lipid barrier of the skin,” says Dr. Mikailov. “Based on several clinical studies, one of the key problems with KP is the lack of oil-producing sebaceous glands. By replacing the natural skin oils, the majority of individuals with KP improve.”
Shop Dr. Mikailov’s keratosis pilaris routine
“While showering, I try to use either water alone, or two to three times per week I use the KP Away Skin Polish,” says Dr. Mikailov. “This is a unique formula that has jojoba wax beads, which are absorbing exfoliators.”
Once Dr. Mikailov is out of the shower, he puts on a soon-to-come KP Away body oil (“it’s a proprietary blend of squalane oil, jojoba oil, and calendula oil to restore the sebaceous gland actives,” he says). And after 30 to 45 minutes, he applies this moisturizer. “It’s the brand’s original product and I’ve used it at least daily for the last eight years,” he says. “This product clears 80 percent of my KP.” He says he created it with his children in mind, who had KP as newborns. “I wanted to make sure I created a solution that worked for them, was easy to apply, and was very fast-absorbing.”
Although this is meant to be a cleansing balm, Dr. Mikailov uses it as a repair ointment. “For rare times when the weather is ultra dry, or if I am washing my hands and sanitizing my hands an overwhelming amount (e.g. due to illness), then this is my go-to repair ointment,” he says. This works because the formula doesn’t include any harsh surfactants. Just a conditioning blend of mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, ceresin, and beta-carotene.
General tips for managing KP
1. Avoid potentially irritating ingredients
For example, “I avoid anything that can potentially irritate my skin, including fragrance, SLS, and propylene glycol,” says Dr. Mikailov.
2. Know your skin type
“Some people can tolerate physical and chemical exfoliators, but the majority cannot. If you can tolerate the exfoliators, then you are likely to see great improvement in your KP with low concentrations of glycolic and lactic acids, which are AHAs,” he says. “On the other hand, if you have quite sensitive skin, then the use of exfoliators will lead to more frustration.”
3. Know that you can’t cure KP but can manage it
“KP is primarily genetic and can never be 100 percent cured, but you can definitely improve it,” he says. “This is also something that takes months to years, not weeks to improve, so be patient!”
Here are some more tips for treating KP: