Just like the skin cells on your face, the cells on your body regularly shed to reveal new, healthier skin underneath. That turnover process slows as we get older; to give it a nudge, reach for a body scrub.
A scrub works in a few ways: As you massage it over your body, the exfoliating granules help to slough off dead skin, and the rubbing action itself boosts circulation and helps drain your lymph nodes, by increasing blood flow to the skin’s surface. Plus, after all that deep cleansing work in the shower, your post-wash moisturizer will be better able to soothe and hydrate your skin.
But another important benefit of using a scrub is how good it can feel in the moment. Being mindful of the refreshing texture against your skin and captivating scent that fills the shower allows you to enjoy the treatment as it’s happening—an experience that can lift your mood and affect your outlook as you continue your day or evening.
Types of Body Scrubs
Typically, a body scrub has larger exfoliating particles than a facial scrub as the skin on your body isn’t as delicate. Common ingredients in store-bought scrubs are salt, sugar and crushed nut shells, and some include chemical exfoliates, like alpha hydroxy and glycolic acids, which can help smooth and firm skin, and salicylic acid, which can help improve the appearance of blemishes or redness. You can make your own buffing scrub with ingredients like olive oil, honey, raw sugar, ground cloves, oatmeal and even ground coffee. Adding your favorite essential oils to the mixture transforms your shower into an aromatherapy session.
Try this homemade scrub:
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup white or brown sugar
½ cup ground oatmeal (or coffee grounds for a more invigorating scrub)
1-3 drops essential oil (try lavender, almond, citrus or peppermint oils)
Whisk together all ingredients and pour into a mason jar or other airtight container. Use just a quarter-sized amount at a time, storing the scrub in a dry place for up to three weeks.
If you’d rather stick with a smooth shower gel, using a loofah or exfoliating cloth can provide the cleansing scrub your skin needs. Experiment with various products and tools to find a scrub and technique that feels the best on your skin.
How to Use a Body Scrub
If your skin is healthy and firm, you can use a shower scrub up to three times a week. But if you have sensitive or thin skin, limit a good buffing to once a week.
Hold off on running the water in the shower and spend a few minutes using your hands or scrubbing tool to rub your scrub in circular motions onto dry skin for full and longer-lasting coverage. Turn on the water and rinse, using your hands to help remove any remaining granules. If you’re short on time, massage the scrub all over your body and rinse during your normal shower routine.
Be careful not to over scrub. Though your body skin is heartier than the skin on your face, it is susceptible to irritation. Always moisturize after you’ve dried off for smooth, nourished skin.
Do you use a self-tanner? Try a non-oily body scrub before applying any tanning lotion to guarantee an even application. By removing the dead skin cells, you’ll avoid splotches and dark spots, especially around your knees and elbows. Body scrubs are also great for removing self-tanner from your body.
When Not to Use a Body Scrub
If you have a sunburn or are experiencing a rash or other skin condition, give the body scrub a rest. Some of the ingredients—and the actual rubbing—could further irritate your skin. You’ll also want to skip it after shaving if your scrub contains salt or any chemical ingredients.