Exfoliation feels transformative. Just a quick once-over with a gritty scrub immediately helps us feel renewed, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon of dry, dead skin. If you’ve never exfoliated your body before (or even if you have), keep reading to learn how to use a body scrub.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about body scrubs: their benefits, how to use them, as well as some important tips for when to use them and what to keep in mind about body scrub safety. Are you ready to get scrubbing?
In this article:
- What Does a Body Scrub Do?
- Body Scrub Benefits
- How to Use Body Scrub
- How Often Should I Use a Body Scrub?
- Body Scrub Safety and Side Effects
A body scrub is basically a gritty physical exfoliant for the entire body. Exfoliation, if you’re not familiar, is the process of removing excess dead skin cells from the very top layer of the skin.
Our top layer of skin is called the stratum corneum, and it’s actually composed of dead skin cells that create a protective barrier over the live layers of skin below. Our face has a thinner stratum corneum, which is why it’s important to exfoliate it very gently and lightly. By comparison, most of the body has a thicker stratum corneum (with the exception of delicate areas, like the genitalia), so it can handle a stronger exfoliation.
Body scrubs are usually designed with two main components. First is the base, which can be made of oil, cream, or a body wash-like formula. Second is the exfoliant, which is some sort of gritty material, like salt, sugar, hydrated silica, seed or nut kernel powder, pumice, and many other materials.
Some body scrubs also include chemical exfoliants within their base, like glycolic or salicylic acid. Those exfoliate the skin by melting the connecting material between dead skin cells, so in combination with a physical scrub, they offer a more thorough exfoliation.
Historically, many body scrubs were made with plastic microbeads, but most countries and states have banned their use because they were impossible to filter and ended up having a very harmful effect on the environment.
Body scrubs offer a lot of skin benefits, both immediately after you use them and in the long term. Here are some of the main benefits of using a body scrub:
- By removing dead skin cells, body scrub smoothes the skin pretty much instantly for a softer look and feel.
- Dead skin build-up can stop moisturizers from penetrating into the skin, so by using a body scrub, you can improve skincare absorption.
- Body scrubs made with a creamy or oily base can also help to moisturize your skin since they lock in the moisture from your shower. A very moisturizing body scrub can save you the need for body cream!
- Long-term use of body scrubs can help promote the production of new, healthy skin cells for an overall brighter and more youthful skin appearance.
- Body scrubs can help prevent and reduce razor bumps and ingrown hairs, both before and after shaving or waxing.
- Regular body scrub use can help improve or reduce all kinds of deep-seated skin issues, including surface signs of aging, closed comedones and body acne, keratosis pilaris, hyperpigmentation, rough texture, and more.
Are you ready to learn how to use a body scrub? This step-by-step guide really illuminates how to exfoliate safely, and we also included a few little tips to help you optimize the process.
- Take a Shower
The best time to use a body scrub is in the shower, especially because most formulas are meant to be rinsed away with water. So, hop in the shower, turn on the warm (but not hot) water, and let it wash over you.
Next, cleanse your body as you normally would. Per most dermatologist recommendations, you don’t need to overdo the body wash or soap. Concentrate only on crevices where odor tends to accumulate, as well as any visibly soiled areas. Parts of the body like the arms, legs, and stomach usually don’t need to get soaped up.
If it’s a hair washing day, we suggest shampooing your hair, rinsing out the shampoo, and then applying your conditioner. Let the conditioner sit in your hair while you scrub for a deeper hair treatment.
- Massage the Scrub into Your Body
Now you’re ready to scrub! Usually, a quarter-sized dollop is enough to cover the whole body, although it also depends on the consistency of your body scrub.
Massage the body scrub into your skin in circular motions, working quickly to cover the whole body.
Make sure to use very gentle motions and to work quickly over areas where the skin can be a little more sensitive, like the abdomen or the chest.
Pay special attention to areas that are more prone to texture or dead skin build-up, like the legs, feet (although you may want to use a dedicated foot scrub), buttocks, and upper arms.
- Rinse It
Once you’ve exfoliated your entire body, rinse away the scrub in lukewarm water. Now you can finish your shower or bath. If you want to shave your legs, now’s the perfect time because your skin will be extra-smooth.
If your body scrub has a more body wash-like base rather than an oil or cream base, make sure to moisturize thoroughly once you get out of the shower.
How often you use a body scrub depends on the product you buy as well as the condition of your skin. In general, you should use a body scrub at least once a week.
If your skin is pretty strong or you have a very gentle body scrub, you might be able to use it as often as every other day and maybe even every day. If your skin is on the sensitive side, however, don’t exfoliate more than once or twice a week, and pay close attention to signs of irritation.
Overall, body scrubs are pretty simple and gentle to use. Our bodies can handle that physical exfoliation well, which is not always true for the face. With that said, here are some things to keep in mind to make sure your body scrub doesn’t damage your skin.
- If you have any allergies, make sure to read the ingredient list on your body scrub to avoid known allergens.
- Never use a body scrub on broken or irritated skin.
- If your skin feels red or irritated after using a body scrub, stop using it.
- Consider doing a patch test with your body scrub, especially if you have sensitive skin or if it contains any fragrances.
Now that you have all of the must-know information about body scrubs, you can get out there and give your skin a good polish. Enjoy!
Photos via @herbivorebotanicals, @shairaslater, Instagram