Body scrubs are an amazing way to keep your body soft and moisturized easily and (usually) inexpensively. Since baths are one of the best ways to take care of both your body and your mind, any product that makes them more relaxing and beneficial is a win in our books!
That’s why we’ve created this step by step guide to exactly how to use body scrubs, and what makes them so wonderful.
The Benefits of Body Scrubs
Before we get into how to use body scrubs, why should you even use them in the first place?
The number one benefit of body scrubs is how they help to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation is just a fancy way of saying that they help remove all of the dead skin that accumulates on the body.
Because our skin cells “turn over” roughly every month, they sometimes need help falling off. We actually lose over a million skin cells every single day, which adds up to potentially nine pounds of dead skin cells yearly. Nine pounds! Gross, right? That’s why exfoliating the body is a good thing. We can’t have all of those cells piling up on top of us.
There are plenty of other benefits to consider, too. For instance, exfoliation boosts both the circulation of blood in the body as well as lymphatic drainage. Both of these are absolutely necessary to help rid the body of toxins, and can also reduce inflammation.
Exfoliation also creates a blank canvas for your other skin care products, like moisturizer. Once the body is clean and the pores are open, your other products can penetrate even deeper into the body for the most benefits possible.
Exfoliating your skin creates brighter, more radiant, softer skin. If your skin has been looking kind of dull and lifeless later, a body scrub might be exactly what you need to turn it around. Plus, the act of exfoliating can be incredibly cathartic. How often are we able to both literally and metaphorically shed our old skin and start fresh?
Before picking a scrub, you’ll want to first make sure you know what your body’s skin type is. It’s often the same as your facial skin type, but not always.
Also known as well-balanced, normal skin isn’t too dry or too greasy anywhere. Normal skin usually doesn’t have many, if any, imperfections or sensitivities. It’s also not prone to inflammation.
Dry skin cracks, itches and peels. Some people even notice rough, scaly patches. You’ll usually notice visible lines and less elasticity in your skin.
Oily skin is the exact opposite of dry skin. It is also often prone to developing acne. You may notice enlarged pores, and either a dull or very shiny complexion.
Most people have combination skin, which is a mix of dry and oil depending on the location.
Sensitive skin acts like dry skin, in that it is often red and itchy. However, the problem is not a lack of moisture. Sensitive skin usually has specific triggers, like allergens, that set it off.
Types of Body Scrubs
There are a few different types of body scrubs, but they all essentially work the same way (which we’ll get into in a minute). What you choose comes down to simple preference and availability. We’ll include a recipe for each as well, in case you’re interested in making one yourself!
Sugar Body Scrubs
Sugar body scrubs are probably the most popular type out there. They’re great even for sensitive skin, as sugar tends to have a small “grain” size which doesn’t tend to be too abrasive. Sugar also works as a natural humectant, which helps to pull moisture into the body and hold it there.
In addition, much like more expensive skin care products, sugar is a source of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and glycolic acid, which help encourage the skin to turn over new skin cells quicker.
To make an easy sugar scrub at home, combine one cup of sugar (either white or brown) with half a cup of oil (preferably coconut, olive, or jojoba). You can also add a few drops of whatever essential oil you prefer. Rose and geranium work great in this regard.
Salt Body Scrubs
Salt body scrubs aren’t as popular as most of the other types, mainly because salt tends to be more abrasive to the skin. However, some people use them specifically for dealing with oily, acne-prone skin, as the salt pulls oil away and can also kill some of the bacteria that cause acne. Salt also contains magnesium and sulfate, which may be able to reduce inflammation and help detoxify the skin.
To make your own salt scrub, mix half a cup of fine sea salt with half a cup of oil. To make it a little more fun, add a teaspoon or so of lemon zest!
Coffee Body Scrubs
Coffee is a natural stimulant, which is what makes coffee body scrubs work so well! Coffee not only stimulates us to be awake in the morning, it can also stimulate our skin cells to regenerate faster, improve the tone and texture of the skin, and even fight cellulite! Coffee body scrubs are said to restrict the blood vessels at the skin’s surface, which leads to tighter, less inflamed skin. Plus, it just smells great.
For an at home coffee scrub, add half a cup of fresh, finely ground coffee with half a cup of sugar (preferably brown). Mix together with half a cup of oil, and even a teaspoon of vanilla extract to make it smell even better!
Oatmeal Body Scrubs
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast, it also makes a great base for a body scrub. The grain is a great source of antioxidants and is also known for reducing inflammation, so oatmeal body scrubs are great for people with sensitive skin. They also help hold in moisture, which makes them perfect for use in the winter.
To make your own, finely grind half a cup of regular oatmeal in the food processor. Combine with half a cup of sugar (brown works best) and a few tablespoons of oil.
How To Use a Body Scrub
Whether you made your own body scrub or are using one that you purchased (either way works, and there’s no wrong answer), you’ll want to follow a few steps to make sure that you’re using it effectively. We’ll also throw in a few tips from the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD).
Step One: Take a Bath!
Since body scrubs are part of a larger self care ritual, start out by taking a bath! We recommend lighting a relaxation-promoting candle and taking a few minutes to let yourself soak and relax before draining the bath. If baths aren’t your thing, you can also use a body scrub in the shower. Just let the water run over you for at least five minutes.
Step Two: Start At Your Toes
Once you’re ready to start scrubbing, you’ll want to start at your toes and move upward. This method is best because it enhances the body’s circulation as it encourages blood flow to move back up toward the heart. You’ll want to do the same thing on your arms, starting at your fingers and moving to your shoulder.
Step Three: Scrub the “Right” Way
To scrub most efficiently, use small, circular motions with your fingertips. Some people choose to use a loofah or a washcloth but, according to the AAD, that may be too irritating for those with sensitive skin. Don’t use more than a gentle pressure, but make sure not to be stingy with the scrub, either! All in all it should take at least five minutes to scrub your entire body properly. Don’t rush.
Step Four: Rinse
Once you’ve covered your whole body, rinse thoroughly. Not rinsing well enough can dry the skin out, plus some of the scrubs can be sticky when dry! Use lukewarm water only, never hot.
Step Five: Moisturize
Always follow up using a body scrub with a good moisturizer. This helps lock in the moisture lost during the exfoliation process, and encourages your skin to be even more soft and smooth.
How Often Can I Use a Body Scrub?
While everyone’s skin is individual, most experts recommend not using a body scrub more than two or three times a week. Using them too much can actually create more inflammation and dryness, and can become abrasive and uncomfortable to the skin. If you have naturally sensitive skin, you shouldn’t use a body scrub more than once a week.
In addition, unless you made it yourself, it’s not a good idea to use a body scrub on your face. Our faces tend to be much more sensitive, and body scrubs can be too abrasive and damage the skin. Stick with making your own scrub, or buying one that’s just for facial use.
Body scrubs should be an essential part of your self care routine. Not only do they encourage you to take time out for yourself (they work best after a bath or shower), they also provide softer skin and help increase circulation.
You can even make your own easily with products you probably already have at home. Enjoy!