Hey girl! If you’re reading this, you probably have rough elbows and knees that are significantly darker than the rest of your body. You have the problem but no solution. Luckily for you, by the end of this post, you’ll still have the problem (unfortunately) but you’ll be equipped with a solid solution for it. Now, if you know me you know I first like to help you understand why you’re experiencing a certain problem before I tell you how to get rid of it. So why are your elbows and knees rough and discolored?
Causes of Rough, Discolored Elbows and Knees
Short story before I explain this; my dad grew up in a rural Kenyan village and walked around shoeless for nearly 20 years. As a result of the constant friction, the skin on the bottom of his feet is literally rock hard. You can poke him with a needle and he won’t feel a thing.
When you expose your skin to excess friction for extended periods of time, it roughens up to be able to withstand that friction and not get easily irritated or bruised. Your skin is trying to protect itself when it gets rough. I’m sure the phrase “thick skin” has something to do with this. All those times you fell on your knees as a kid, the long sleeve shirts you frequently wear, leaning on your elbows…all of that is friction! The build-up of dead skin cells appears significantly darker than the healthy cells around it, which causes the noticeable discoloration.
You may have psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes red, often painful and itchy, scaly patches on the skin. Areas like your elbows, knees, and scalp are most commonly affected. Visit a dermatologist or your primary care physician if you have these symptoms.
Frequent, extended exposure to the sun triggers a natural reaction in your body to produce melanin and help protect your skin from UV rays. Unfortunately, the melanin our bodies produce (yes, even black people), is not enough to provide and significant long-term protection. These UV rays damage your skin cells which cause the melanocytes in your skin to overproduce melanin. All the years you haven’t slathered your body in sunscreen and religiously reapplied it is making your knees and elbows darker.
Considering how creased the skin on your knees and elbows is, it only makes sense that it’s difficult to remove all dirt and sweat from the creases. This buildup of dirt can make your skin look significantly darker. Before trying any solutions, I would recommend going in with a loofah combined with an AHA body soap and scrubbing these areas to ensure all the dirt is out. Here’s my favorite AHA body soap.
Treating Rough and Discolored Elbows and Knees
The first thing you want to do when you have a build-up of dead skin cells is EXFOLIATE. Exfoliating is the only way you’ll be able to get rid of these dead cells and reveal new, healthy skin cells that are even toned. As far as physical vs chemical exfoliants for your body, I recommend doing a mix of both. Your body can withstand the various forms of exfoliation significantly better than your face can. I would be slightly more gentle on your elbows as the skin there is typically thinner than the skin on your knees. For your elbows, stick to lactic acids, such as Amlactin, a loofah, and a heavy moisturizer. For your knees, a salt scrub, lactic acid, and a heavy moisturizer will do the job.
Here’s the perfect physical and chemical exfoliation combo:
An alternative to the salt scrub and loofah is the Salux Japanese Nylon Cloth. Using this cloth will have you saying “new skin, who dis?!” I promise. It’s necessary for your body care arsenal. Nylon fibers remove dead skin (ahem, the stuff making your knees and elbows rough), which makes them perfect for when you want your skin to be irresistibly soft. Also, this cloth extends down your entire back making it easier to clean the middle of your back that you’ve been ignoring for weeks now. It’s truly a gem. You can purchase it here.
This is the second most important step when it comes to getting rid of the roughness. When you get out of the shower while your skin is still damp, use an occlusive product such as Vaseline or my favorite, the Cerave Healing Ointment. Do this right before bed and wear something cotton that covers the area to trap moisture. You’ll wake up with baby soft knees and elbows. More on the Cerave Healing Ointment, it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid which is a humectant that hydrates your skin, and ceramides, which help to rebuild the barrier of your skin.
PFB Vanish + Chromabright
I had to save the best for [second] last. PFB Vanish Chromabright will change your life forever. I and hundreds of other estheticians SWEAR by it for hyperpigmentation on the body. It’s formulated with dimethylmethoxy chromanyl palmitate, otherwise known as Chromabright, which is proven to work significantly better than arbutin, kojic acid, and hydroquinone as a tyrosinase inhibitor. It takes about 4-6 weeks to begin seeing results with twice daily use. Your skin will likely begin to peel, which is exactly what you want. We need new, undamaged skin cells to surface in order to treat hyperpigmentation. Purchase the PFB Vanish + Chromabright here.
You’re probably wondering now: “when should I use the PFB Vanish in my routine?” (yes, yes I did just read your mind). PFB Vanish + Chromabright should be used every morning and right after the shower before you moisturize. Wait for the product to fully dry for about 10 minutes then apply your moisturizer as usual. I should probably also warn you that this may sting. If the stinging becomes unbearable, wash it off immediately as this may be an allergic reaction. Always patch test on the skin behind your ear before using a product!
Makeup Artists Choice 5 Acid Body Peel
And finally, the best. If you want a much quicker treatment and are willing to dish out a couple more coins, I would recommend going with a medical grade strength peel such as this. It has 20% Lactic acid, 5% Glycolic acid, 5% Mandelic acid, 2% Citric acid, 1% Salicylic acid, and Licorice root extract. I mean. This acid line up has me speechless. It’s literally the perfect product for hyperpigmentation. A mix of tyrosinase inhibitors and exfoliants.
You should use peel this once every 3-4 weeks. When you step out of the shower, pat your skin dry and apply the peel. Let it dry for 10 minutes MAX and step back into the shower to wash it off. On the days that you use this peel, do not use the PFB Vanish + Chromabright. Buy the MUAC 5 Acid Body Peel here.
Sun damage is the primary cause of hyperpigmentation on all exposed parts of your body. In order to prevent further darkening and reduce the hyperpigmentation that is already there, you should use an SPF 30 or higher all over your body, focusing even more on parts that suffer from hyperpigmentation.
Here’s a free PDF regimen for you to download and reference to for treating your knees and elbows!
To thank you guys for all the support as well as jumpstart one lucky person’s routine towards an even-toned body, I’m giving away one (1) PFB Vanish + Chromabright! Follow these steps to enter and win! The giveaway ends in one week on February 7th, 2018.