Of the several different hair removal methods out there, shaving might be the only one that's gained a wider reputation for being fast, easy, and painless — well, if you're doing it correctly. Still, that's not to say that it doesn't come with its own set of drawbacks. For starters, even the smoothest, most stubble-free finish can leave you with razor bumps and burns, and in some cases, tiny dark spots on your skin also known as "strawberry legs."
"Strawberry legs are when the skin of the legs has dark dots in a follicular distribution, so they look like strawberries," dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare, Purvisha Patel, MD, told POPSUGAR. "There may also be swelling of the skin and the hair follicles look slightly indented or raised like the surface of a strawberry."
Strawberry legs, though not particularly fun to deal with, are incredibly common among people who shave different parts of their bodies. If you're looking for tips on how to prevent them from popping up, Dr. Patel is sharing a little more insight on what you can do to help.
Why Do People Get Strawberry Legs?
Your hair follicles can begin to look like dark spots for a handful of reasons, most of which are related to the pigmentation that occurs right after the follicle is inflamed or irritated in any way.
"We're mammals and we're covered in hair follicles and pores," Dr. Patel said. "It could be from not exfoliating, as the pores get blocked with oil and debris, sloppy shaving technique with a dull razor, since the hair may get cut at an angle and when it grows back it can look like a black dot in the follicle, or non-moisturized skin that becomes irritated, causing an increase in appearance of the follicles."
The dark spots could also be the result of a keratin defect condition called keratosis pilaris (also known as "chicken skin"), but only if the marks you're seeing appear bumpy.
How to Prevent Strawberry Legs
The first thing you can do is exfoliate to ensure that you're unclogging your pores from extra dirt and sebum, and getting rid of any dead skin cells. "Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate, then moisturize, moisturize, moisturize," Dr. Patel said. "When I say exfoliate, I don't mean scrubbing your leg skin off — which you could do if you can stand it and the skin doesn't get inflamed — but, rather, using lotions and cleansers with alpha hydroxy acids to help loosen the top layer of the skin and smooth the pores and decrease the debris." A few of our favorites include the Boscia Papaya and Pomegranate Enzyme Exfoliating Body Cleanser ($35) and Dermadoctor KP Duty Body Scrub Exfoliant for Keratosis Pilaris ($32).
Aside from that, you could also consider other hair removal methods like waxing, sugaring, or laser hair removal. "Waxing and sugaring pull the hair out at the follicle and this can lessen the appearance of strawberry legs," Dr. Patel said. "It also exfoliates to a small degree as some dead skin on the surface may be removed in the process." She also suggests using depilatory creams — like the Nair Exfoliate & Smooth Leg Mask ($9) — as they can dissolve the hair to help smooth the skin and make bumpy strawberry legs look less apparent.