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Stridex: The Drugstore BHA To Swipe All Over Your Legs

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Though the verbiage on the label is a bit aggressive, and the box design looks like one of those illegal firework stands on the sides of lonelier stretches of Texas highways, maximum-strength Stridex pads have, by some miracle of the drugstore gods, made their way into my bathroom. Yes, the jar completely lacks the subtlety of the stark Somme Institute cleanser to its right, and the girliness of floral-print limited-edition Shu Uemura oil to its immediate left, and it can probably feel the disdain seething from the gold-plated (and actual gold-containing) La Prairie serum looming behind, but such is the life of a teenage boy's $5 locker-room staple in the company of “Oh God, I'll pay anything not to age' products. A houseguest might assume my kid cousin came to visit, or that I've taken a younger lover. No, I just have bumps on my legs.

Looking back over the past six months, I realize I've kept my lower half in some variant of human sausage-casing at all times. If it wasn't the textured hosiery worn under calf-hugging knee-high boots, it was two layers of heat-retaining tights beneath my signature far-too-snug, thick, black jeans. Even at home they got no relief—winter turned me into somewhat of a Nevernude: pants come off, leggings go on. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I wore a dress. With the joy of outside temperatures besting 60 degrees came the frustration of realizing that I had induced the appearance of hundreds of ingrown-like bumps all over the meaty parts of my legs. Not zits, and not quite ingrowns, my best guess is keratosis pilaris, otherwise known as “chicken skin.” Lovely.

It's nothing a little exfoliation can't handle, but with age has come the wisdom that if I want baby-soft skin over the entirety of my body, I must treat said skin like that of said baby. Meaning, no sandpaper-ing with Velcro gloves or scrubbing with large, jagged salt crystals. Chemical exfoliation is the only way—would you do that to an infant, though? I donno. So yeah, I went on the hunt for a beta hydroxy acid treatment for body use because, unlike its cousins the AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), BHA is better at cleaning out and sanitizing clogged pores while it exfoliates. It's also anti-inflammatory, making it the better option for my sensitive-wuss skin. And do you know what BHA is? The adult-sounding name that salicylic acid gave itself on the fake ID it uses to buy beer—they're the same thing. And salicylic acid is the active ingredient in these wonderful Stridex pads. It's the main ingredient in many of these drugstore acne pads, actually, but I like the soft, non-irritating texture of Stridex's version. And the formula is alcohol-free! So despite what I expected, I've experienced no excessive drying. Now my leg skin would be completely smooth if not for the crop of quarter-inch of hair I've let prosper since that dress day two weeks ago. Thank you, Stridex. And a big shout-out to pimply teen boys everywhere.

—Annie Kreighbaum

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