The skin on elbows and knees is thicker than elsewhere to protect our joints, but add to that the pressure of leaning and kneeling and the accumulation of dead skin and you have the dreaded rough, dry dark skin that's been referred to as "elephant hide." If this sad state describes your elbows and knees, fret not — there are ways to soften and lighten your skin.
Step 1: Exfoliate
The first step toward improving the skin on your elbows and knees is exfoliation. A dry cleansing facial brush such as our Ultra Clear Facial Cleansing System can also work well to remove dead, dull skin cells on your body. Also helpful for sloughing off buildup is a good body scrub. S.W. Basics Body Scrub ($22) uses demerara sugar and organic shredded coconut to gently exfoliate and coconut oil to moisturize dry skin. Kat Burki Raw Sugar Body Scrub ($48) uses sunflower, coconut, kukui, and macadamia oils to restore moisture and soften skin while it polishes away dry, dead cells. Red Flower Bioactive Berry White Peat Exfoliant ($66) removes dead skin cells and toxins and improves cell turnover with sea salts, white peat extract, and aloe and seaweed extract. Remember: Scrubbing too hard can actually make dryness worse, so resist to temptation to vigorously overscrub.
Step 2: Moisturize
After exfoliating, the key is moisturizing — heavy duty moisturizing for this hard-working skin. Natural oils, shea butter and glycerin are good ingredients to look for, but if your elbows and knees have hit the critical zone, try using creams contains glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid.
Retrospect Feet, Knees & Elbows ($38) is a lightweight lotion formulated with keratin, lanolin and castor and olive oil extracts to treat extremely dry and/or cracked skin. The Organic Pharmacy Body Lotion ($79) is an effective moisturizer containing emollient oils and shea butter as well as phospholids, which actually attract water and hold on to it. Ideally suited for dry skin and rough spots, Living Nature Ultra Rich Body Cream ($40) contains manuka honey and cupuacu and murumuru butters to deeply moisturize and nourish the skin.
Arcona Pumpkin Lotion ($35) is infused with pumpkin extracts and glycolic acid — two strong exfoliators and lighteners. Anti-bacterial clove oil and collagen-building fructooligosaccharides are also among its ingredients. The reformulated Mukti Pink Grapefruit Body Lotion ($47) contains salicylic acid and sorbic acid, cocoa and shea butters, coconut oil and four citrus essential oils to hydrate, nourishe and protect skin. Stemulation Relance Body Lotion ($98 in the shop) gently exfoliates while intensely hydrating with ingredients such as lactic and fruit acids, shea butter, botanical oils and glycerin. Plus, stem cell growth factors help to increase cell turnover and improving skin's firmness.
Finally, keep in mind a few lifestyle tips that will help: Try to avoid leaning on elbows and kneeling for prolonged periods of time, and don't forget to apply sunscreen on these areas when you're going to be getting a lot of sun exposure. Cleanse your elbows and knees well to avoid buildup of dirt and germs in the folds of skin. Also, keep your skin properly hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day.