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If you're using a body scrub (or plan to start using it), but you're just not getting the results those yummy-looking products tout, you're at the right place!
We'll share a step-by-step guide on using body scrubs to get silky-smooth skin, as well as all the reasons why adding a body scrub to your skincare routine is a good idea.
What Are the Benefits of Body Scrubs?
Our skin naturally sheds dead cells from its surface, making way for baby-smooth skin from underneath. The bad news is, however, this process slows over time, allowing those dull, dead skin cells to build up and eventually result in rough, lifeless, and flakey skin.
Body scrubs' role is to slough away those dead skin cells our skin didn't manage to. As their name suggests, they physically scrub them off, encouraging the whole cell-turnover process and unveiling smoother-feeling skin more quickly. Therefore, body scrubs are also called physical or mechanical exfoliants, containing fine particles (usually sugar and/or salt) that gently polish the skin without being too abrasive.
Here are the best skin-caring benefits of body scrubs:
- They make the skin softer, smoother, and more radiant;
- They prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps by removing the dead skin cells that clog pores;
- They increase blood circulation to the skin, making it look healthy and plump;
- By removing dead skin cells buildup, they allow the skin to absorb moisturizers and other skincare products better;
- By improving blood circulation, they improve the skin tone and reduce the appearance of cellulite;
- They help the skin get rid of impurities;
- They are a relaxing self-care ritual, refreshing and soothing both your body and your mind.
How to Use Body Scrubs: A Step-by-Step Guide
To get a silky-smooth and radiant skin from head to toe, follow these steps when scrubbing:
Step #1: Prepare your skin
To allow your scrub to do its magic, the first and crucial step is to prep your skin and start with a clean slate. You can do that by cleansing your skin with a gentle body wash and soaking it in a warm bath or shower for several minutes. Warm water will soften your skin and open up the pores, allowing the scrub to remove dead skin cells more easily. Use this opportunity to chill back and relax.
Step #2: Apply the product to your skin
Scoop out a small amount of the product at a time with your hands or a clean wooden spoon, and apply it to damp skin. Of course, for this step, you'll need to turn the shower off or stand up in your bathtub.
Step #3: Start from your feet and work your way up
For better circulation, some experts suggest scrubbing toward your heart. So start from your feet, and go up your legs, and then torso, scrubbing gently using circular motions. Then continue with your arms, starting from your fingers and hands, and massage upwards. You can scrub with your hands or use scrubbing mitts, whatever is easier for you.
Step #4: Rinse off
Now it's time to hop back into your bath or under the shower and wash off the body scrub. Again, make sure to use gentle massaging motions and rinse off the product thoroughly.
Step #5: Follow up with a body lotion or oil
Since exfoliating can strip your skin of oils and moisture, we would recommend ditching the towel or lightly pat dry, leaving your skin damp. Continue with a rich body moisturizer or oil to replenish your skin with moisture and seal in all the good ingredients from your scrub.
And that is all there is. Wash, soak, scrub, rinse, and moisturize – and remember to be gentle to your skin, apply only slight pressure, and massage using circular motions from your feet upward.
Most Common Types of Body Scrubs
Before starting with your body scrubbing routine, you might be confused by the number of different body scrubs on store shelves. There are sugar scrubs, coffee scrubs, salt scrubs, walnut scrubs, and the list just goes on and on.
So which one to choose?
This will, of course, depend on your skin type and needs. However, in general, you should steer clear of body scrubs that contain large and sharp particles, like walnut or apricot scrubs. These are made of crushed-up shells (walnut scrubs) or pits (apricot scrubs) that are scratchy and can cause micro-tears in your skin. Over time, these can lead to a damaged skin barrier, inflammation, irritation, and even scarring.
So, instead, go for sugar or/and salt body scrubs or coffee scrubs, usually suspended in an oil base. These have much finer particles that are gentle on your skin and will exfoliate without causing any damage. However, there are some slight differences you might want to consider when choosing your next favorite body scrub.
So, let's take a closer look at different types of body scrubs.
Compared to salt scrubs, sugar scrubs have a bit rounder granules and are, therefore, much gentler to the skin. In addition, sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid (alpha hydroxy exfoliating acid), breaking down the dead skin layer and sloughing it off more easily. Plus, it keeps your skin hydrated, nourished, and conditioned. Therefore, sugar body scrubs are an excellent choice for dry, sensitive, and dehydrated skin. If your skin is extremely dry, choose a sugar scrub formulated with some nourishing oil, like coconut oil, olive oil, or grapeseed oil.
Salt body scrubs have trace minerals that purify the pores and draw out the toxins. However, they have a bit grittier particles which are great for stimulating circulation and more thorough exfoliation. But these can be a bit harsh on the skin. So unless you have exceptionally resilient and thick skin, reserve salt body scrubs for smoothing the rougher areas on your body, like your feet or elbows.
Coffee scrubs are made of coffee grounds that are slightly more abrasive than sugar scrubs. So as long as you don't use them on your face, you're good to go. Besides exfoliating, coffee grounds can help expand blood vessels, tighten the skin, and reduce the appearance of skin dimples. So these could be a perfect pick if you want to exfoliate and treat cellulite at the same time.
How Often Should You Use a Body Scrub?
Just like with your face, body exfoliation shouldn't be a part of your everyday skincare routine. If you over-exfoliate, you'll be compromising the health of your skin's natural barrier, leading to various skin conditions. Moreover, too frequent exfoliation will dry out your skin and make it more prone to irritation.
So, while it all depends on your skin type and needs, you shouldn't use a body scrub more than two times a week. Once you start with your new routine, observe how your skin feels and tailor the frequency accordingly – it could be once or twice a week, or once or twice a month.
All in all, it might take some trial and error to find the right timing and product for your body exfoliating routine. However, we hope that now that you know the nitty-gritty of using body scrubs, you'll be able to do it right and enjoy the fantastic results.
Note that you should avoid using body scrubs if you have any inflammatory skin condition, like psoriasis, acne, or eczema, or if your skin is damaged due to sunburns, for example. Likewise, if you're using any retinoid-based products, it would be best to consult with your doctor before starting your new skincare routine.
Do you use a body scrub before or after soap?
You should use body scrubs on clean skin, so after showering and cleansing with a gentle body wash or soap. A warm shower should soften the skin, open up the pores, and allow your body scrub to do a better job at exfoliating.
How often should you use a body scrub?
Too frequent exfoliation with body scrubs can dry out your skin and damage its natural moisture barrier. So, try to limit the use of body scrubs to once a week or once or twice a month.
Does body scrub go on dry or wet skin?
You should apply your body scrub after showering while your skin is still wet or at least damp. This will allow the scrub to glide over your skin more easily.
Are you supposed to wash off body scrub?
After finishing scrubbing, you can leave the body scrub on your skin for a minute or two so that your skin can absorb all the nutrients from it. But then, you should thoroughly rinse it off and remove any scrub residue.