My skin struggles are not just neck-up. I have keratosis pilaris and severe eczema among other skin issues head to toe. Like me, I know many of you face skin challenges neck-down. We're so excited that we're able to finally introduce you to our first-ever body solution to address your body skin priorities.
We wanted you to have a body solution that treats skin just as seriously as your facial skin is treated. And we wanted to tackle a common body skin condition that many of you might struggle with - and deliver visible transformation.
Tackling Keratosis Pilaris
Like me, many of you might have keratosis pilaris (KP). In fact, 2 out of 5 adults have KP. And around 4 out of 5 adolescents have KP! We have a deep-dive post on everything you need to know about keratosis pilaris here. For those of you who may not know what KP is, it's a harmless skin condition that presents itself as goosebumps, body bumps, "chicken skin," "strawberry legs," (although "strawberry legs" may also be ingrown hairs and not KP) or whatever else you might want to call it.
The Inspiration: the Korean "se-shin" body scrub
I grew up in Korea and frequented Korean bathhouses where I would get the iconic super-smoothing Korean bath scrub called "se-shin" but in a gentle version that was OK for my eczema. I loved loved loved the "se-shin" treatments because my KP would be smoothed and I'd walk out as smooth as a baby. When I moved back to the U.S. twenty years ago, there weren't Korean bath scrubs I could get as easily, which meant it was that much harder to keep my skin silky smooth and keep my body bumps under control.
For the last twenty years, I've enthusiastically tried countless body treatments in the States ranging from beautiful body wraps to oil massages to at-home treatments with all manner of actives and hydrators. I've also tried loofahs and scrubs and peels. Some combinations yielded results for me, but I wasn't able to find results that matched what I would see when I walked out of my tried-and-true "se-shins."
When we started working on our KP Bump Boss Microderm Body Scrub a few years back, there was no question. This first formula would be all about tackling Keratosis Pilaris and delivering results like the iconic super-smoothing Korean body scrub.
What goes into the Korean "se-shin" body scrub ritual?
If you're familiar with the Korean "se-shin" treatment, it might seem like the results are from intensive physical exfoliation. But that alone won't yield the results that I fell in love with. The best results come from a combination of elements. First, there are the soaks. Sometimes it's just soaking in water, and other times, it's soaking in soothing tea extracts or mugwort-infused (aka "ssook" in Korean) soaks. I loved the mugwort-infused soaks because they were always great at soothing skin, visibly calming redness and helping to revive skin. Fun fact: I soaked in a mugwort-infused foot bath regularly after having a baby to help with postpartum water retention, re-invigorate and to help boost circulation. Highly recommend! Then, comes the essential act of steaming in a very, very toasty wet sauna. And the "se-shin" treatment can be a bit different from bathhouse to bathhouse, but the treatment I loved best included the iconic physical exfoliation, a bit of gentle chemical exfoliation including a milk bath, refreshing cucumber as a mask on my face and any more sensitived areas on my body, and then would come the hydrating oil. Then comes the moisturizing step sealing everything in. This Korean bath ritual I fell in love with isn't your everyday bath scrub. When I would go get my "se-shin" treatments, it would be at least a few hours to even a good half day spent getting soaked, steamed, scrubbed, oiled and moisturized. But it was so worth it to see body bumps smoothed away and to walk out radiant from head to toe. And therein was the question for our partner lab - how can we get "se-shin" ritual results but with one formula that's easy to use in the shower?
Typically, when we create products, we share a brief with our partner lab on the exact benefits the formula must deliver. This product brief was different in that it boiled down to one big statement - "must rival the se-shin treatment." As our partner lab is in Korea and all our partner chemists have experienced "se-shin" they understood immediately. And "ooohs" "ahhhhs" and slow nods followed as our partner team of chemists seriously contemplated just how we would craft something that leaves skin impossibly smooth, Keratosis Pilaris bumps and all, and softened with refined texture - all with just one formula.
We knew we had to have clinically effective chemical exfoliants to resurface, smooth and unclog bumps because KP is dead skin cells trapped under the skin. Many who struggle with KP also can have redness on skin. So we also knew this needed to soothe and visibly keep that redness and inflammation at bay. KP also needs hydration to be effectively treated. It was clear we also needed hydrators. Finally, stronger and more resilient skin makes for better KP maintenance, so nourishing and fortifying ingredients needed to be included.
We went right to work and included clinically proven ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, squalane, and probiotics to exfoliate, hydrate, fortify. But the real question was -- while this would be effective for KP and deliver results, would it deliver the next-level smoothness that is achieved after a multi-hour iconic Korean smoothing ritual?
The secret sauce
Formulating is a lot like cooking or baking. Two dishes can include a cup of sugar, five cups of flour and 3 large eggs. But there are numerous ways this can all be combined and baked. The same ingredients can yield you a cookie or a cake or even a quiche. Skills also matter. I can assure you there's no way I can turn those ingredients into anything worthwhile whereas a Michelin-rated chef can do wonders with those ingredients.
Now, let's take the same key ingredients but combine it with special ingredients that a chef can select. This is where the dish can come out miles and miles apart. If one chef includes chocolate and another includes cheese, the outcome will be far different.
Our KP Bump Boss was a lot like cooking up a masterpiece dish. First, we're grateful to work with forty world-class chemists who craft formulas for many, many highly acclaimed products. So the skills and techniques behind how to craft a formula using the clinically proven ingredients we've identified are truly a work of art.
But we took it a step further. Let's take our time and see how the formula is benefitted when it's combined with mungbean or mugwort or cica or barley or ginseng or black rice. There's a large range of incredible time-tested Korean herbal, botanical and spa ingredients beloved for specific results. I love Asian herbal and spa ingredients because many are clinically proven and also time tested over literally centuries over millions of cases to show beautiful benefits for skin.
In the same way a dish that's being cooked tastes completely different based on the additional ingredients used beyond the flour, sugar and eggs, the KP Bump Boss would have wildly different results based on the specific Korean herbal and spa ingredients we used.
And this takes time. Specifically, it took over 300 formulas and 30 months to test and test and test. We tested even against actual iconic "se-shin" bath scrub experiences! I loved creating this formula with our partner lab - there was so much brilliance, care and joy that was brought to the table every day.
Behind-the-scenes, once we landed on this formula, many people involved in creating this formula have excitedly shared that since it's hard to go to the bathhouse as often these days, this scrub couldn't be more timely. And they're absolutely in love with their results.
Proof is in the pudding
We didn't just stop with our own appreciation of the results. We knew we needed third party companies to test this for us. After all, it needs to deliver unparalleled results for Keratosis Pilaris and testing specifically for this would be essential. So we conducted a few different tests. People specifically with KP were recruited and the results are truly wonderful to see.
In a 3rd party study of people with Keratosis Pilaris who used the KP Bump Boss:
93% saw and felt smoother skin
94% saw ingrown hairs be smoothed
95% saw dry, flaky skin and dead skin cells sloughed off
89% saw even red bumps were calmed
And here are the images of results we've seen from a before and after study where results were recorded over the course of 3 months intermittently throughout.
And on a personal note, given my struggles with Keratosis Pilaris, which became a lot more visible during my recent pregnancy, I'm thrilled to finally have a product where I can effectively manage my KP while still keeping it gentle for my eczema skin. It's a pretty empowering feeling to be able to walk out of the shower with super smooth skin in just a few minutes - so we gave the product a befitting name. KP Bump Boss because it's your body, and you're the boss.
Goodbye, KP body bumps!
If you have any questions about KP or our KP Bump Boss, leave your questions below and I'll be sure to answer them.
xo - Alicia