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3 Beauty Editor Tricks To Treat Rough, Bumpy Skin On Your Thighs + Product Recs

Alexandra Engler
May 30, 2023
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and
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May 30, 2023
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It's only natural to want soft, smooth skin—especially when you're showing more of it come summer. One area I struggle with the most is my legs and thighs. My legs have always been much drier than the rest of my body, and my thighs have patches of rough bumpy skin. In the winter, it doesn't bother me too much—so instead of focusing on aesthetics, I just flood the skin with hydration to keep the skin comforted and moisturized. But come summer, I pay much closer attention to how it looks. I'm human!

To smooth out the appearance, I do a combination of manual exfoliation, targeted serums, and softening body lotions. Here, three summertime staples I swear by for soft legs. 

Softening lotions

The most important step in any skin care routine—face and body included—is hydration. Without proper moisturization, the skin barrier is weakened and can become more inflamed. Inflammation in the skin leads to rough texture, chronic dehydration, fine lines, a crepey appearance, and more. No matter what products you use elsewhere in your routine, it means truly nothing if your barrier is compromised. 

My personal go-to is mindbodygreen's postbiotic body lotion. The formula uses a special biotech postbiotic that feeds the skin essential fatty acids and peptides and is shown to support epidermal framework reconstruction. It also contains a microalgae ferment prebiotic that nurtures the skin's microbiome, soothes irritation, and can even help smooth texture. 

It also contains a robust assortment of botanical ingredients that hydrate, plump, and provide antioxidant protection. For example, it contains aloe, coconut oil, and organic, cold-pressed moringa seed oil to moisturize and condition the skin. This is layered with the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 and a fruit extract complex that fights free radical damage. Then it's rounded out by oat oil and shea butter, which are both shown to provide the skin precious ceramides.

It keeps skin moisturized, strong, and delays the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of aging. 

Dry brushing

I love to dry brush regularly. I keep it as a consistent part of my routine—usually when I have a bit more time in the morning to get ready, so I can really indulge in the practice. (However, I will say I don't have a rigid practice, in that I do it on a strict schedule—I just grab the brush when I feel like it, which happens to be fairly often!) 

Dry brushing is an excellent physical exfoliator, meaning it sloughs off excess dead skin cells from the epidermis. The skin on your legs, and more specifically your thighs, is thicker and more durable. This means it usually requires stronger exfoliation techniques to address textural issues. The brushes used on the body tend to have stiffer bristles that can be made from synthetic (like nylon) or plant-derived (like bamboo or cactus fibers). But ultimately, dry brushing can be as gentle or aggressive as you want it to be, since the amount of pressure applied is in your control. 

There are plenty of great ways to manually exfoliate, too. If you prefer a body scrub, then by all means. (I should say, I try out plenty of body scrubs thanks to my job—so I also will opt for a body scrub from time to time.) But what makes dry brushing so special is that it offers a moment of pause in my routine. If you'd like to try it yourself, check out our favorite dry brushes

Body serums 

Part of the reason I deal with rough skin on my thighs is because I have a mild case of keratosis pilaris (KP), which some refer to as "chicken skin." The normal skin condition is simply a buildup of keratin within the hair follicles, which causes them to bulge and become irritated and inflamed1, giving your skin a bumpy texture. It's a chronic condition, meaning that it can't be "cured" but can certainly be managed. 

Typically, I'm able to deal with it just with a combination of regular exfoliation and daily hydration. But when my skin is experiencing flare-ups, it tends to come in a bit stronger. 

The good news is that there are a growing number of body serums hitting the market that can help address KP, crepey skin, dark spots, and so on. Body serums function similarly to how they do on the face. Meaning, they're more targeted formulas with more potent actives (and usually, are more expensive.) 

I have a few in my arsenal that I use to spot-treat certain areas on my body, thighs included. For example, U Beauty's Resurfacing Body Compound or Tata Harper's Resurfacing Body Serum. Or Kopari Beauty KP Bumps Be Gone is specifically made for KP using 10% AHA. 

As I noted, these are usually more expensive than your standard body products, so I don't slather them head-to-toe, but they're excellent options for localized issues. 

The takeaway

Rough, patchy skin on the legs and thighs is very common. It typically is the result of a weakened skin barrier, dry skin buildup, and even KP for some folks. However, with smart topicals and treatments, you can keep your skin looking smooth all summer long. 

Alexandra Engler author page.
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.