Strawberry legs: what are they and how do you get rid of them?

pair of smooth legs on a pink background - strawberry legs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The hashtag #strawberrylegs currently has over 144.9 million views on TikTok. But what are strawberry legs are why are they trending on social media?

The term strawberry legs refers to the little black dots that appear after you've shaved your legs. It's incredibly common, but can be a nuisance after you go to the trouble of hair removal, only to be left with dots on your legs.

So what are these spots? How do you get rid of them? And how do you prevent them from returning? We asked a whole host of experts who gave us the low down.

What are strawberry legs?

According to Medical News Today, strawberry legs occur when enlarged pores or hair follicles trap dead skin, oil or bacteria. As a result, the hair follicle darkens, because the oil and grime have oxidised. The little black dots then resemble the seeds on the outside of a strawberry, hence the name.

What causes them?

Shaving is a common cause, but strawberry legs can also be a symptom of other skin conditions. Folliculitis (inflammation and often infection of the hair follicles), acne and keratosis pilaris are all linked with it too.

'The Latin term keratosis means ‘scaly skin’, and pilaris means ‘hair’,' explains Emma Coleman, dermatology & aesthetic RGN (registered general nurse). 'Keratosis pilaris usually starts in childhood but becomes more obvious during the teenage years and adulthood. It is harmless and is not infectious.'

'Some of us are genetically predisposed to keratosis pilaris,' adds Dr Kemi Fab, skin expert and founder of the Joyful Skin clinic. 'Particularly individuals who have dry skin conditions such as eczema.'

How do you treat strawberry legs?

Exfoliation, exfoliation, exfoliation. With some moisturising thrown in the mix. 'Use of an exfoliating sponge or scrub in the shower, says Coleman. 'Products containing urea will moisturise and ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic acid or alpha hydroxy acids will help loosen the adherent scale in the follicles.'

It's also recommended to use shaving gel every time you shave, as it helps the razor glide more smoothly over the skin. Changing your razors regularly as well will help things enormously.

'How strawberry legs are treated is dependent on the cause whether folliculitis, acne or ingrown hairs,' says Ejiro Owusu, sugaring expert and founder of the Ejiro Studio. 'However, my go-to home tip is: ensure you are exfoliating regularly, using a salicylic acid body wash such as CeraVe Smoothing Cleanser (£12.50 | Lookfantastic). Plus, use a moisturiser that can combat dryness. Something like CeraVe Moisturising Lotion (£10 | Boots) will help keep the skin hydrated. CeraVe is my absolute favourite, especially for summertime as it is light on the skin. Heavier creams can block follicles when combined with the excessive sweating we experience in the summer.'

However, if none of the above seems to be working then seek medical advice, either from your GP or a dermatologist.

How do you prevent any further issues in the future?

It might be that you need to rethink your hair removal choice. If you're a regular shaver, why not try waxing? If you like the idea of laser hair removal, give that a try. Our guide to the best IPL hair removal devices will help you choose an at-home option if you're concerned with the price.

'I recommend anyone with strawberry legs stop shaving or use a moisturising shaving cream,' says Owusu. 'This is very common in those with thicker or curly hair types, which is why I recommend waxing or sugaring for hair removal as this can reduce the hyperpigmented follicles that can occur after shaving.'

If it's keratosis pilaris that's causing your problems, Dr Fab says it's important to avoid certain practices that can further dehydrate the skin. 'Avoid heavily fragranced soaps and excessively hot showers that can strip your skin of its natural oils. You can also try using a loofah as a gentle physical exfoliant to help loosen the keratin plug on the skin. When drying the skin, pat it dry gently with a towel and avoid rubbing.'

Products to help with strawberry legs

Katie Thomas

Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.