All skincare gurus know that skin exfoliation is an essential procedure that involves removing dead skin cells from the surface. But have you heard that you need to exfoliate regularly (once or twice a week) in order to remain the skin in good health and glowing? As we age, the cell turnover slows down, which means that dead skin remains longer on the surface. Furthermore, this causes a build-up of dead skin cells, and can make your complexion look dull, clog pores and make fine lines appear more prominent. In this article we’ll explore the benefits of body exfoliation, discuss different types of exfoliators, and give suggestion for the best body exfoliating products.
Benefits Of Exfoliating Your Body
If you don’t exfoliate your body and face regularly, you are missing out on many benefits that come with skin exfoliation. Not only body exfoliation makes your skin look brighter and glowing, but also it has anti aging benefits and improves the overall health of the skin. Here is a round up of some of the benefits of body exfoliation:
- Removes dead skin cells
- Improves skin texture and tone
- Stimulates cell turnover
- Increases blood circulation
- Draws out toxins
- Helps to unclog pores
- Reduces blemishes and acne
- Prevents ingrown hair
- Improves absorption of skincare products
- Leaves skin softer and smoother
- Therapeutic properties of abrasive particles
- Provides immediate visible results
1. Removes dead skin
Skin’s natural cell turnover rate slows down as we age, and it results in a build up of dead skin cells. Moreover, when you have a build up of dead skin your complexion looks dull and greyish, pores get clogged and wrinkles look more prominent. However, you can avoid dead skin build up if you use body exfoliating products regularly. In fact, any type of body exfoliators (scrubs, brushes, loofah, etc.) will do a descent job in buffing away dead skin cells and revealing smoother and brighter skin.
2. Improves skin texture and tone
In addition to removing dead skin cells, body exfoliation also improves skin texture. When you exfoliate the body you are essentially improving the texture of your skin by removing dead and dry skin, debris, mild pigmentation and oil excess. Also, exfoliation allows to smooth skin bumps, prevent ingrown hair and unclog pores, which all contribute to smoother skin texture and brighter skin tone.
3. Stimulates cell turnover
Interestingly, a typical cell turnover cycle is about 30 days for a 30 years old person. But by the time you reach mid 40s, it takes twice longer (60 days) for cells to renew. Since cell turnover decreases with age, it needs to be stimulated. That is to say, skin exfoliation boosts cell renewal by removing outer layer of the skin and enabling new cells reach the surface quicker.
4. Increases blood circulation
One of the benefits of body exfoliation is that it increases blood circulation. In fact, applying grainy particles of body exfoliant in circular massaging motion physically stimulates skin and increases circulation. Why is it beneficial for skin? Because a good blood flow supplies skin with oxygen and nutrients, promotes overall healthier and younger looking skin, and prevents variety of skin issues.
5. Draws out toxins
Since body exfoliation stimulates blood circulation, it also has a direct influence on removing waste and toxins out of our body. In particular, a proper blood flow detoxifies the body by carrying away carbon dioxide and waste from metabolism that our skin doesn’t need. That is to say, a good blood flow results in proper body detoxification, which leads to healthier skin.
6. Helps to unclog pores
Skin exfoliation is particularly helpful for those with clogged pores. One of the main causes of clogged pores is excess oil that’s trapped under the layer of dead skin. Not only body exfoliators are excellent in removing dead and dry skin, but also they are effective in removing excess oil and clearing clogged pores.
7. Reduces blemishes and acne
Sometimes, clogged pores can trap dirt and bacteria, which leads to blemishes, whiteheads, pimples and acne. In this case, regular gentle exfoliation is crucial as it helps to keep pores clear, prevents formation of blemishes and pimples, and speeds up skin healing.
8. Prevents ingrown hair
Another benefit of body exfoliation is prevention of ingrown hair. When hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells, the hair gets trapped underneath. But since exfoliation removes dead skin cells, and unclogs pores, it is considered as one of the most effective solutions for ingrown hair. Whether you choose physical or chemical exfoliation, not only body exfoliation prevents ingrown hair from forming, but also it releases trapped ingrown hairs and lifts the hair away from the skin. For best results, exfoliate before you shave.
9. Improves absorption of skincare products
Since body exfoliation removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores, it makes it easier for skincare products to get absorbed. In fact, dead skin, oil excess and makeup leftovers create a barrier on the surface of the skin, which makes it hard for skincare products to penetrate. However, exfoliation removes that barrier and allows the skin to better absorb serums, moisturizers, etc., and at the same time enhances the benefits of skincare products.
10. Leaves skin softer and smoother
Some of the other benefits of body exfoliation include softer and smoother skin texture. Indeed, once you exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells, debris, excess oil, and other minor imperfections, skin becomes immediately softer and smoother. Additionally, the increased blood circulation and stimulated cell turnover also contribute to smoother skin texture in the long run.
11. Therapeutic properties of abrasive particles
Depending on which exfoliator you are using, your skin will also benefit from the therapeutic properties of the main active ingredients. For example, body scrubs with sugar are naturally rich in glycolic acid and have anti aging benefits. On the other hand, salt scrubs are rich in minerals and provide purifying and detoxifying benefits. While coffee scrubs are rich in antioxidants and caffeine, and have strong anti aging, anti-inflammatory, and cellulite minimizing properties.
Related: Sugar scrub vs salt scrub
12. Provides immediate visible results
Even though the results of body exfoliation are cumulative, you can also see immediate visible results right after the exfoliation. Not only the skin will feel soft, but also it will appear brighter, smoother, younger-looking and glowing.
Types Of Body Exfoliators
Even though there are many different ways to exfoliate skin, in general all exfoliators fall into two main categories: chemical or mechanical (physical). Additionally, there are exfoliating products for body that combine both chemical and physical exfoliators for more intense exfoliation.
Chemical exfoliators use naturally occurring acids like alpha and beta hydroxy acids and fruit enzymes, which eat away or “dissolve” dead skin. In general, chemical exfoliators are more commonly used on face. The following are the most commonly used chemical agents:
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs like glycolic, lactic, malic)
- Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs like salicylic acid)
- Fruit enzymes (papaya, pumpkin, pineapple)
Meanwhile, physical exfoliators use tools like sponges, loofahs, abrasive scrubs, etc. that physically buff off the dead skin cells of the surface. In fact, physical exfoliators are particularly good for exfoliating body as they involve massaging action and stimulate circulation. Physical exfoliators for body include:
- Dry brush
- Electric body brush
Find out what is the difference between sugar scrub and salt scrub >>
Body scrub vs body polish: which one is right for your body? >>
Discover the benefits of coffee body scrub >>
Best Body Exfoliating Products
Body exfoliation is a relatively simple treatment even when it is done at home. You just have to take into consideration your skin type, skincare routine and your budget. That is to say, some of the most effective and desired exfoliators for body are sugar, salt and coffee scrubs, loofahs and electric body brushes. Regardless of which type of exfoliation you’ll choose, your skin will still get most of the benefits of body exfoliation. Here are some great body exfoliating products that reveal younger-looking, smoother and more radiant skin.
Body Exfoliating Scrubs
Body scrubs are exfoliating substances that contain fine grainy particles, which buff away dead skin cells, stimulate blood circulation and boost cell turnover. Since body scrubs have to be massaged into skin, they also help to release muscle tension and promote overall relaxation.
SheaMoisture Hand and Body Scrub
Amazing sugar scrub that is made with a rich blend of oils including coconut, olive oil, jojoba, shea butter, and vitamin E. It is a great budget option for normal and dry skin.
Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish
Detoxifying body polish that is safe for sensitive skin. It contains sugar, rose clay, organic coconut oil, shea butter, antioxidants. Has hydrating, soothing and anti-aging properties.
First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser
This 2-in-1 physical and chemical exfoliator formulated with 10% AHAs, pumice beads, bisabolol, oatmeal, and willow bark. Good scrub for those with keratosis pilaris, and dry and normal skin.
Goop G.Tox Detox Body Scrub
Great detoxifying salt scrub that includes mix of 5 salts (Himalayan pink, Dead sea, Celtic sea, New Zealand solar and Epsom). In addition to detoxifying properties, this body scrub also provides hydration. Great option for dry, aging, and normal skin.
M3 Naturals Arabica Coffee Scrub +
This is not your regular coffee scrub but so much more! The scrub is infused with collagen, fruit stem cells, Dead Sea salt, cacao extract and a rich blend of oils. In addition to exfoliating and moisturizing, this scrub also has potent anti aging and blemish clearing properties.
Chemical Exfoliators For Body
In general, most chemical body exfoliators come in a form of exfoliating body lotion or sometime as a spray-on peel. In particular, body exfoliators with BHA are usually formulated with 2% of salicylic acid and are best for those with clogged pores, and blemish- or acne-prone skin. On the other hand, body exfoliators with AHAs can be formulated with a various combination of acids like glycolic, lactic, malic, tartaric, mandelic, citric, etc. Usually, the concentration of acids in these at-home peels range from 5%-20%.
Paula’s Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA
This body exfoliant with 2% salicylic acid gently exfoliates the build-up of dead skin and softens bumpy and rough skin. It also doubles as a lightweight hydrator, and is formulated with chamomile extract, vitamin E, green tea, and other hydrating and smoothing ingredients. Great option for those who have occasional blemishes or clogged pores on the chest, shoulders or arms. If you have mild pigmentation, try their 10% AHA body lotion.
Alpha Skin Care Renewal Body Lotion
Exfoliating body lotion that is formulated with 12% glycolic acid, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. It gently exfoliates, while also moisturizing, hydrating, and providing anti aging benefits.
Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion
Dual action hydrating and exfoliating body lotion with 17.5% glycolic acid, vitamin E and antioxidants. Not only it improves skin texture, evens out skin tone and reveals brighter and smoother complexion, but also protects skin from environmental aggressors.
DERMAdoctor KP Duty High Potency Daily Body Peel
This potent resurfacing two-step body peel comes in a form of presoaked towlettes. The resurfacing pad includes a blend of 17 acids that effectively exfoliate the skin, while the quench pad includes calming and hydrating complex.
Body Brushes & Loofahs
To pint out, shower loofas, sponges and body brushes are considered physical exfoliators, as they help to buff away dead skin cells. However, some dermatologists warn against using loofahs, sponges and brushes as they can harbor germs, oils and dead skin. If you decide to try one of these exfoliating tools make sure you clean them properly and replaced them often. Here are few good options for body exfoliating tools.
Daily Concepts Detox Massage Brush
Exfoliate your skin and have a stimulating body massage at the same time. This detox brush is made with natural bristles, massaging rubber nodules, and FSC beechwood, and is great for weekly dry brushing routine.
Almooni Exfoliating Loofah, 2-pack
Premium double-sided loofah pad for body. The exfoliating side is made of 100% Egyptian loufa sponge, and the soft side is made of soft terry washcloth. Comes as pack of two loofahs.
Avilana Silicone Body Scrubber
Double sided silicone body brush that is gentle enough for sensitive skin. Not only it’s made with 100% food grade silicone, which is non-porous and resistant to bacteria, but also it’s is very easy to keep this body brush clean.
Beurer FC 55 Electric Body Brush
This rechargeable body brush comes with two brush attachments and a removable long handle. In addition, it has two speed settings, and can be used for deep cleansing or exfoliation. Made in Germany.
Metene Double-Sided Shower Brush
Top rated body brush that can be used for both dry and wet brushing. Moreover, the double-sided brush head is designed with soft nylon on one side and stiff natural bristles on the other side.
Related: Electric exfoliating body brushes >>
Summary On Body Exfoliation
In conclusion, body exfoliation is an essential body care procedure that can easily be done at home. In addition, the benefits of body exfoliation are numerous and include dead skin removal, increased blood circulation and cell turnover, improved skin texture and softer, brighter, healthier and younger looking skin.
Above all, keep in mind that regardless of which exfoliating method you’ll choose, the key to successful body exfoliation is being gentle. That is to say, to get the most benefits of body exfoliation and for the best results use gentle hand pressure, gentle circular motion, and gentle exfoliator.
Often, over exfoliation can cause skin dehydration, dryness, irritation, redness or inflammation, so don’t exfoliate more than twice a week. For this reason, always follow with a moisturizer, body butter or lotion after the exfoliating procedure. Also, as exfoliation makes skin more sensitive to the UV, it is a good practice to use sunscreen in order to protect the skin from the photodamage.
Bergfeld W.F. “ Cosmetic use of alpha-hydroxy acids.” Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, Jun. 1997, Vol. 64, No. 6
Brown, A. “Breaking down body scrubs.” Skin Inc., Oct, 2018
“Blood Circulation and the Skin Part 1: How Increased Blood Circulation Can Affect the Skin.” MDSUN.com, 2018
“How to safely exfoliate at home.” American Academy Of Dermatology
Howard, D. “Skin exfoliation 101.” The International Dermal Institute, Apr. 2019
O’Connor A, Lowe P.M, Shumack S, Lim A.C. “Chemical peels: a review of current practice.” Australasian Journal of Dermatology, Aug. 2018, Vol. 59, Issue 3
Rodan, K, Fields, K. “Skincare bootcamp: The evolving role of skincare.” PRS Global Open, Dec. 2016
Smith, W.P, Bishop, M, Gillis, G, Maibach H. “Topical proteolytic enzymes affect epidermal and dermal properties.” International Journal Of Cosmetic Science, Feb. 2007, Vol. 29, Issue 1
Tran, D, Townley J. “An antiaging skincare system containing alpha hydroxyl acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin.” Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 2015