Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Body Exfoliator

    body exfoliator

    Do you have a favorite body exfoliator? Yeah, I didn’t think so. We hear so much about the benefits of exfoliating our face, but did you know there are just as many benefits to using an exfoliator on your entire body?

    When we think about exfoliating our body, the first thing that comes to mind is every movie scene where the main character is doing it. She’s just made out with someone she finds out later to be her brother (or some other gross plot twist), so she’s in the shower rubbing her skin raw. She has some sort of coarse brush, and she keeps scrubbing the same spot over and over until it’s bright red, on the verge of bleeding.

    This is NOT what we’re talking about when we talk about body exfoliators. Not by a long shot.

    The goal of this article is to enlighten you on the many options you have for body exfoliators, and walk you through what you can expect once you start exfoliating your body on a regular basis.

    First, let’s chat about the different types of body scrubs. I know, I know—you had no idea there were even options when it came to body exfoliators. While the different categories of body exfoliators don’t vary quite as much as face exfoliators do, the market is flooded with options in each category. So you’ll want to be aware of the five main types of body exfoliators available to you.

    1. Sugar Body Scrubs
    If you’re looking for a less abrasive scrub on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin, a sugar-based body exfoliator is the way to go. These can contain granulated sugar or brown sugar, depending on which exfoliator you land on.  And if you’re feeling super granola, you can opt for an organic sugar or even coconut sugar.

    Sugar is the perfect ingredient for a body exfoliator. It draws moisture from the environment around you, which actually helps hydrate your skin and keep moisture within.  This makes sugar body exfoliators a great fit for those with dry skin.

    It is also a natural source of glycolic acid, which penetrates the skin, breaks down the “glue” that bonds skin cells, and encourages cell turnover to produce fresher, younger-looking skin.  That is one of the goals of using a body exfoliator after all, isn’t it?

    2. Salt Body Scrubs
    If you tend to carry a bit more oil on your skin, a salt scrub may be your best bet when it comes to body exfoliators. The salt is definitely more rough on the skin than sugar, since the particles are bigger, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t have sensitive or easily irritated skin before reaching for this type of scrub.

    A major bonus of having salt as the base of your body exfoliator is its ability to reduce inflammation due to the minerals in it. It’s also the best way to remove dead skin cells, so if you find that certain areas on your body, such as your legs and arms, have a build up of dry skin, a salt scrub will get rid of those rough, dry patches better than anything else.

    3. Herbal Body Scrubs
    When it comes to herbal body scrubs, the options are seemingly endless. The goal of using a body exfoliator like this is to promote relaxation and healing. For example, some popular types of herbal body scrubs include ingredients such as lavender and orange peel.

    Making at-home body scrubs has become increasingly popular, and many women who are opting to make them go the herbal route. This is because essential oils are all the rage right now. Come on, you know you have at least three friends on Facebook right now trying to sell you them. Herbal body scrubs normally call for adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil, which can help achieve many different relaxation and healing goals.

    4. Coffee Body Scrubs

    Can we all just admit it? We have cellulite. Well, most of us anyways. And if you don’t, just nod your head in agreement anyway so the rest of us don’t feel so bad about ourselves. Coffee body exfoliators are perfect for those pesky cellulite areas.

    As one of nature’s stimulants, caffeine is cellulite’s number one enemy. It has the ability to tighten skin, which helps with getting rid of cellulite, and it provides antioxidants to the skin when applied topically, which can help fight premature signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sun spots, and fine lines. (Yep, we get all of that fun stuff on our bodies, too).

    This type of body exfoliator is great for those of us who are a little more “granola” when it comes to our products. Instead of buying a scrub with a bunch of additives, you can use your leftover coffee grounds with a bit of coconut oil.

    5. Moisturizing Body Scrubs

    Image via Healing Touch Spa

    A word of warning before diving in to this category—unless you have extremely dry skin on your chest and back, you’ll want to avoid using this type of body scrub on those areas. These scrubs most often contain oils, which can contribute to breakouts on your chest and back. Definitely not ideal.

    For those who do struggle with dry skin in certain areas, such as their elbows and knees, or even women who seem to have dry skin everywhere, a moisturizing body exfoliator can be a great fit for your skin type.

    These scrubs often have oatmeal, ground almonds, yogurt, aloe vera, and other moisturizing properties, so check for those on the ingredients list when looking for a moisturizing body scrub.
    Now that you know what your options are for body exfoliators, the next step is figuring out which body scrub is right for your skin type. Check out a few guidelines below, as well as some product ideas for you to check out. And for my cheap girls (I’m speaking to myself, too), I’ve even included an at home recipe if you don’t feel like going out to buy a scrub.

    Oily or acne-prone skin: Salt scrubs.
    Salt is your friend, my dear. As discussed earlier, you’ll want to avoid the sugar scrubs, which increase moisturize on the skin, and moisturizing scrubs, since that clearly isn’t your issue.

    When you have an excess of oil on your skin, you often have clogged pores. And when you have clogged pores, you have breakouts. Not fun. Using a salt scrub can begin to start clearing that acne up, and helping you control the oil on your skin.

    Check out: French Girl Organics Sea Polish, L’Occitane Verbena Body Salt Scrub, Frank Body Original Body Scrub, Arbonne Awaken Sea Salt Scrub, Ahava Softening Butter Salt Scrub, Origins Incredible Spreadable Smoothing Salt Body Scrub, and Bliss Hot Salt Scrub.

    Favorite easy, at-home recipe: Citrus Salt Body Scrub

    ½ cup sea salt
    ½ cup olive oil
    ½ teaspoon lemon zest
    ½ teaspoon orange zest

    In a dry bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Make sure not to let any water touch them (hence the dry bowl), or the salt will dissolve. Once the ingredients are mixed well, move the mixture into an airtight container and store in or near your shower!

    This recipe is a personal favorite especially for women who are sensitive to strong odors in their body products. Let’s face it—most body exfoliators are going to have a strong perfume smell, so opting to make this one at home gives you a product that has a more natural, less intense scent to it.

    Dry skin: Sugar scrubs.

    When you have a build up of dry skin, our natural tendency is to use a heavy-duty body exfoliator to get rid of the dry skin. Wrong. When we do that, we run the risk of stripping our skin of the much-needed natural oils, leaving it even more desperate for hydration than before we exfoliated.

    Stick to sugar scrubs, because as I explained before, the sugar will increase moisture in your skin. You can also check out body exfoliators that list oils or milk in the ingredient list, as those help boost moisture levels, as well.

    Check out: H2O+Milk Body Scrub, Palermo Coffee Body Scrub, SW Basics Cream Scrub, Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Sugar Scrub, Josie Maran Argan Body Scrub, Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Body Polish, 100% Pure Body Scrub, Burt’s Bees Cranberry & Pomegranate Sugar Scrub, and fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish.

    Favorite easy, at-home recipe: Chocolate Sugar Scrub Recipe
    ½ cup coconut oil (whipped, not melted)
    ¼ cup olive oil
    1 ½ cups brown sugar
    1 tablespoon raw cocoa powder
    1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

    Mix together brown sugar and cocoa powder. Work in the whipped coconut oil, and slowly add the olive oil. Once mixed, add the maple syrup or honey. This can be used on your entire body, as well as your lips! (Talk about delicious, am I right?)

    Normal skin: Whatever you’re feeling, girl. (Within reason…)
    If you happen to be one of those impossibly lucky people who has no pressing skin issues or conditions, and you have pretty moisturized skin without it being too oily…then I hate you. Just kidding. (Not really).

    You are in luck, however, when it comes to selecting a body exfoliator, because baby, the world is your oyster. Even so, you may want to avoid super harsh scrubs, as there is always the potential that they could cause micro-tears in your skin and create an acne flare up.

    Check out: The Body Shop’s British Rose Exfoliating Body Scrub, Natura Bisse C+C Vitamin Scrub, and Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Scrub.

    Favorite easy, at-home recipe: Green Tea Scrub
    3 tablespoons Epsom salts (or sugar, if you prefer)
    3 tablespoons baking soda
    1 bag of green tea leaves (or a tablespoon of loose leaf tea)
    4 tablespoons of olive oil (or your favorite moisturizing oil)

    Combine the first three ingredients, and slowly work in the oil until you have the desired consistency. Store in an airtight container and use 1-3 times a week.

    Rough skin: The grittier, the better.
    When it comes to rough patches of skin, you want to slough away the dry patches of skin without further irritating the area, causing it to become even rougher. When you opt for a body exfoliator that is gritty in nature, you’re able to accomplish that, and save yourself some painful exfoliation. A few ingredients to keep your eyes peeled for are walnut powder and corn kernel meal.

    Check out: St. Ives’s Fresh Skin Apricot Body Scrub, Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub, Soap&Glory Flake Away Body Polish, Victoria’s Secret Smoothing Scrub Wash, Vanilla Bean Creamy Body Scrub, and C. Booth Walnut Shell Body Scrub & Cleanser.

    Favorite easy, at-home recipe: Coffee Body Scrub with Coconut Oil

    Image via Coconut Mama

    1 cup ground coffee
    1 cup sugar or salt
    ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
    ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    Melt the coconut oil and allow it to cool but not solidify. Mix all of the ingredients together and store in a mason jar or similar airtight container. Store in a cool, dry area near your shower!

    While it hasn’t been totally proven at this point, I’d like to think that the caffeine sinks in to your body, giving you an extra kick of energy to take on the day. Wishful thinking, right?

    Now that we’ve covered the type of body exfoliator you should be on the hunt for, the final step is making sure you’ve actually found the body exfoliator that is right for you. When you’ve found the right match, you should experience: 

    Brighter-looking skin

    Image via Skincare

    When you slough away all of the dead skin cells that have slowly accumulated on your skin, you’ll experience softer skin (of course), as well as an obvious brightness to your skin. You know that natural glow we’re all chasing after on our face? We can experience the same radiance on our bodies, as well.

    More effective skincare products
    More likely than not, you’re probably applying body lotion, essential oils, and even anti-aging products on your skin after you’ve taken a shower or to jump start your day. By exfoliating your body before applying these products, you’ll prepare your new skin to actually utilize those products and make a noticeable difference.

    Less body acne
    Remember those dead skin cells we talked about earlier? Well, when those skin cells build up, they tend to clog pores and cause blemishes to pop up, specifically on your chest and upper back, which is so not the look we’re going for. When you take time to use a body exfoliator and get rid of that build up, you’ll find that you have less breakouts in those areas.

    Promotes skin hydration
    After you’ve exfoliated your body, your skin will be better able to absorb your moisturizer. This will lead to more hydrated skin, which helps prevent body wrinkles. Talk about an awesome anti-aging benefit, right? You’ll notice that hydration right away, but as time ticks on, you’ll see a huge difference in how supple your skin is throughout the day.

    So, there you have it. Do you feel like an expert on all things related to body exfoliators? Because you totally should. Once you’ve decided on the scrub that’s right for you and your skin type, you’ll reap the benefits of beautiful, glowing skin all over, and have an excuse to spend a few extra minutes in the shower every week. Need I say more?

    For more tips and tricks, check out our post on how to exfoliate your body.

    And if you want to learn how to use exfoliating gloves, click here.

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    About the Author

    About the Author: Brittney Fox is the Editorial Director and all-around beauty maven here at Exfoliate.com. When she's not searching for the next big skincare breakthrough, Brittney loves Mexican food and salsa dancing.