Body butter and I have never been friends; we’re reluctant acquaintances at best. My dry skin craves daily hydration, but because of my keratosis pilaris, I normally have to steer clear of their rich, occlusive formulas unless I want to double the number of tiny white bumps on my arms and legs. (I do not.) It’s a catch-22 situation I’ve found myself in for years: needing a ton of moisture but being unable to get it without stressing about the state of my skin. That is until one fateful day, when I discovered Osea’s Undaria Algae Body Butter, a citrusy, velvety blend of seaweed, ceramides, and whipped shea butter that hydrates for days, doesn’t send my KP spiraling, and somehow, miraculously, also healed my trust issues with body butters.
Keratosis pilaris isn’t itchy, scaly, or painful the way eczema can be, but it manifests as little red bumps on the skin or, in my case, tiny and white pimple-like spots. The thing about KP is that it’s linked to dry skin—and derms confirm that you can’t just slather on any cream and call it a day. Because you’re dealing with an overproduction of keratin that causes pores to plug up, you ideally want to use thick lotions with gentle exfoliating acids (welcome to the chat, urea and lactic acid) to moisturize skin and unclog hair follicles.
Experts have told me on numerous occasions (both personally and for stories, including this one) that the ingredients in these products—butters like shea and cocoa or essential oils like coconut and jojoba—can be especially irritating if you have KP. (That irritation in my experience has resulted in bigger, white bumps that take longer to unclog and, in their most dramatic phases, end up resembling body acne.) It’s no surprise, then, that my POV on this super-hydrator has long been “thanks but no thanks.”
So what is it about Osea’s formula that makes it work for my skin type? Is it the whipped shea butter offset by the algae extract? Is it the inclusion of ceramides? Shereene Idriss, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology in New York City, who you may better know as @PillowtalkDerm on Instagram, explains that seaweed contains essential fatty acids that help moisturize your skin, while “shea butter in the right formulation can be really beneficial for dry, rough skin, including keratosis pilaris.” Ceramides, she says, are another hydrating ingredient that forms a protective barrier to help repair the skin and limit moisture loss. It seems that answer to my earlier question is that it’s a combination of all three—but in moderation.
With an ingredients list heavy on moisturizers, it’s worth noting that this specific formula is missing the necessary AHAs my skin type benefits from. But what it lacks in exfoliation properties it makes up for in days-long hydration. And I found a way to up its success rate by using a scrub in the shower—a granulated coffee body scrub, not a loofah or dry brush—to help open my pores before applying any of the butter.
While my skin is still damp, I’ll smooth a few dollops onto my arms and legs like you would a thick layer of icing on a cake. Thanks to the ceramides and shea butter, my skin feels incredibly soft almost instantly. But that’s not even the best part. The formula really shines hours later…and then the next day. The texture of my arms and legs feels the smoothest and most even on day two—the brand promises up to 72-hour hydration with its formula—which I think is another reason I’m able to use this product sparingly and without exacerbating any sensitivities. (There’s no “cure” for KP; it’s just about finding ways to manage it.) I have to apply it only a few times a week, which appeals to my innate reluctance in having to moisturize daily.
I just scooped out the last bit of the travel-size mini I opened in the fall, and while I know $56 is steep for body butter, the full-size 6.7-ounce tub is massive and will probably last me all year. Besides, finding a formula that feels safe to use on my skin and actually gets me excited to moisturize? That’s priceless.