Dead skin cells can make your skin look dull and feel rough to the touch. Not good. Body scrubs are one of the most effective ways to remove dead skin cells to keep your skin looking and feeling great. But with so many options available, from luxury options to homemade scrubs, which ones work? From ingredients that help moisturize to whether or not you want your scrub to have a lather: we’re breaking down which body scrubs are most effective and how to exfoliate your skin effectively.
What removes dead skin from your body?
The action of removing dead skin cells from your body is usually referred to as exfoliation. Exfoliating your skin boasts a whole range of benefits, including improving your skin’s ability to absorb moisturizers and other skincare products, unclogging pores, and preventing ingrown hairs.
Exfoliators come in many different forms depending on where you want to use them and how much of a peeling effect you’re after. Physical exfoliators, like body scrubs, use tiny particles of natural ingredients such as salt or rice to physically remove dead skin cells when you rub them over your skin. On the other hand, chemical exfoliators rely on the power of the ingredients to make your skin shed dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliants include acids such as AHAs and BHAs and PHAs. They can be used at home in low-potency formats or by dermatologists as chemical peels.
Should you use a physical or a chemical exfoliator?
Your choice of chemical or physical exfoliation will depend mostly on your personal preference (some people find the texture of physical exfoliants a bit icky) and the area of your body that you’re using it on. Areas that have particularly rough skin, such as your elbows, knees, and heels, will likely show quicker results from using a physical exfoliant than a chemical one. Meanwhile, the sensitive skin on your face will need a gentle physical exfoliant like Naturium’s fermented rice enzyme cleanser or a chemical exfoliant.
Does Body Scrub remove dead skin?
Body scrubs do remove dead skin cells, yes! Board-certified dermatologist Howard Sobel told Allure scrubs “rid the skin of buildup and dead skin cells, leaving your skin looking brighter, smoother, and healthier.” So while their primary action is to exfoliate your skin (aka remove dead skin), they also help your skin look healthy and glowy. Using the proper technique to exfoliate your body using a scrub will help you get the best possible results, though - more on that below.
What is the best body scrub for dead skin?
The best body scrub for you will come down to your taste. Unlike other skincare products, there generally aren’t active ingredients in body scrubs, so the quality of products will be similar across the board. That being said, here are a few of our personal favorites:
Caudalie’s body scrub uses crushed grape seeds as the physical exfoliator. Its ingredient list also includes six essential oils (including lemongrass and rosemary). The formulation also uses the natural benefits of honey and brown sugar to balance exfoliation with hydration.
This coconut oil-based scrub is dual action: it can be used on your body and your scalp, making it a winner in our books! Other vital ingredients include sugar (as the physical exfoliant) and almond oil. The formulation also includes Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, a natural antimicrobial preservative used as an alternative to chemical nasties.
This body scrub also uses a combination of coconut oil to hydrate and sugar to exfoliate. Still, it also includes shea butter and olive fatty acids to increase the amount of hydration it brings to your skin. The product has a delicate rose scent making it the perfect treat during a long soak in the bath.
How do I scrub my body to remove dead skin?
The technique you use to exfoliate your body is arguably more important than the product itself. Not only do you want your technique to be effective, but you also need it to be safe. Your skin is a delicate organ, so it needs to be treated gently. There are tons of tutorials online that explain the best way to exfoliate using body scrubs, but here are our top tips:
Have a shower or a bath to make sure your skin is wet and ready to be exfoliated. You’re going to want to use a gentle, natural body wash on days when you exfoliate to make sure you don’t overwhelm your skin. If you’re shaving, now’s the time to do that.
Apply the scrub
As tempting as it can be to apply tons of body scrub, you actually don’t need much. Place an olive-sized lump of scrub in the palm of your hand, and apply it to the area you are scrubbing. It’s best to start from your feet and work your way up.
Massage your skin
Remember the way body scrubs remove dead skin: by rubbing the gritty product over your skin. You want to go easy and gently rub the product over your skin. Rub the product in circular motions, always moving toward your heart. So on your legs move upward, and on your arms move from your hands toward your shoulders. Don’t spend more than 30 seconds on each area you are exfoliating to ensure you don’t hurt your skin.
Let the scrub sit
Lots of scrubs have hydrating ingredients, so you can leave them on your skin to soak in if you have time. That’s why we love using a body scrub in the bath: you can scrub and then soak for a while to give the product time to work its magic.
Using lukewarm water, rinse off the product. You’ll notice at this stage that your skin will feel smooth and super silky!
Using a fluffy towel, pat your skin until your skin is almost dry. Applying moisturizer to damp skin can help it be absorbed better, too, so keep that in mind.
Your skin will be feeling super refreshed by now, but the skin cells that your scrub has just exposed will need hydrating. Apply body lotion or body oil to your skin and let it soak in.