Skincare » Body Exfoliation: Everything You Should Know

Body Exfoliation: Everything You Should Know

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Body scrubs and exfoliators are wildly popular these days, as there are more body scrubs on the market than ever before — from sugar to salt to coffee scrubs and more. We wouldn’t be surprised if you had scrubs tucked away in your beauty closet. If you’ve never used one before, it’s time to start. 

Body exfoliation is a lot like face exfoliation in that it’s the “deep cleaning” step of your body care regimen. Regular body soap generally cleanses surface-level dirt and debris while exfoliating body products provide a more thorough cleanse. Exfoliation gets deep enough to scrub away dead skin cells, resulting in visibly smoother skin

While your skin naturally self-exfoliates, the use of an exfoliating product can prevent it from having to work as hard. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of exfoliation, the benefits of body scrubs, instructions on how to exfoliate, and more.

What’s body exfoliation? 

Exfoliation is the removal process of dead skin cells on your skin’s outermost layer. Scientifically speaking, exfoliation causes your skin to shed dead cells by triggering cellular turnover, which leads to more polished-looking skin.The two main types of exfoliation are mechanical and chemical. 

Mechanical exfoliation involves physically removing dead skin cells with solid objects like loofah sponges and brushes. Chemical exfoliants, such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs), are topical skincare formulas. Upon application, these exfoliants dissolve dead skin cells for easy removal. 

You can either perform the exfoliation process at home or visit your dermatologist for professional treatment. Dermatologists offer a variety of exfoliation procedures that include body chemical peels

Pros and cons of body exfoliation

Feel iffy about adding exfoliation to your regular body care routine? Here’s a glimpse of the benefits and risks confirmed by skincare experts. 


  • Stimulates cell turnover for radiant, healthy-looking skin
  • Prevents clogged pores
  • Minimizes breakouts 
  • Diminishes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging
  • Improves circulation and increases blood flow to the skin


  • May irritate or slightly tear the skin
  • May remove beneficial oils from the skin, leaving it feeling dry and uncomfortable
  • May cause redness, itching, and burning on sensitive skin

How to properly exfoliate using body scrubs

If body exfoliation sounds up your alley, we’ll start you off with some expert tips on how to exfoliate at home. Body scrub types vary from store-bought to DIY.

We recommend getting a store-bought body scrub with a balanced blend of natural sugars and essential oils — one like Laura Mercier’s Creme Brulee Sugar Scrub that features finely milled sugar crystals and grape and olive oils. You could alternatively make your own body scrub with the DIY recipes featured in this article.

We spoke with Dermatologist Anju Methil, MD, who shared step-by-step instructions for exfoliating with body scrubs. 

Step 1: Use circular motions when scrubbing your skin. This will help to exfoliate dead skin cells and reveal brighter, more radiant skin.

Step 2: Focus on areas that tend to be dry or rough, such as your elbows, knees, and heels. Scrub gently in these areas to avoid irritation.

Step 3: After scrubbing, rinse off thoroughly and apply a moisturizer to seal in hydration. 

Methil further explained how often you could get away with using body scrubs. “As a general rule of thumb, it’s safe to use a body scrub once or twice per week,” she said. “If you have sensitive skin, you may want to use a body scrub less frequently or opt for a gentler formula … If you have tough, thick skin that’s prone to dryness or rough patches, you may want to use a body scrub more frequently.”

Top 5 DIY body scrubs

Would you prefer whipping up your own scrubs? No problem — we asked Methil for recommended body scrub recipes. Check out her DIYs for coffee, sugar, salt, chocolate, and oatmeal scrubs.

Coffee scrub


  • 1 cup coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup sugar or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or other carrier oil
  • Optional: 1-2 drops of essential oil of choice

Sugar scrub


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Salt scrub 


  • 1 cup coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Chocolate scrub 


  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar or salt
  • 1/4 cup oil (olive, coconut, etc.)
  • Optional: 1-2 drops of essential oil of choice

Oatmeal scrub


  • 1 cup oatmeal (quick or rolled oats)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup oil (olive, coconut, etc.)
  • Optional: 1-2 drops of essential oil of choice


Follow these three simple steps no matter which DIY scrub you choose:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Transfer the scrub to a jar or airtight container.
  3. To use, apply the scrub to wet skin, massage in circular motions, then rinse with warm water.

A scrubbing finish

What’s not to love about body scrubs? They can help improve the overall appearance of your skin and give your body a brighter, smoother glow. Regular soaps do a great job cleaning surface-level dirt and debris, but you often need something a bit stronger to eradicate dead skin cells thoroughly. In this instance, body scrubs and exfoliators are beneficial. 

If you fear a possible allergic reaction, you might want to chat with a dermatologist before applying body scrubs to your skin.