What's in Your Body Scrub?

Let's find your best buffer.

It may seem like an extra step in the shower, but exfoliating away those dead skin cells is a fast pass to softer, smoother, more touchable skin.

How They're Formulated

Since common exfoliators like salt and sugar dissolve in water, they need to have an oil base (typically sweet almond or grape seed oil). Bonus: The oil hangs out on your skin after you've rinsed to soothe and moisturize. Some scrubs have foaming detergents like sodium lauryl sulfoacetate to cleanse skin, too.

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What Gives Them Scrubbing Power

Body scrubs are what derms call mechanical exfoliators: They gently remove loose, dead skin cells as you massage them in. Scrubs can unclog pores and help speed up natural skin cell turnover. There are three main types:

  • Coarse: Salt and sugar scrubs have slightly jagged crystalline particles. Sugar is a natural humectant and may add a bit of moisture back into dry skin, while salt can have a drying effect, sopping up oil.
  • Gritty: Scrubs made with nut shells and fruit pits can be a bit gentler—their exfoliating ingredients are finely ground particles with smoother edges, so they're not as scratchy. They work well on normal and combination skin.
  • Smooth: These use tiny, soft particles with polished edges, like small beads made from natural jojoba oil. These may be best for people with sensitive skin. (Microbeads work too, but because they've been shown to wreak havoc on the environment, production of the small plastic particles is slated to end as of this July, though they'll remain on shelves for a while.)

Once a month, for a deeper exfoliation, use your scrub on dry skin in the shower before you turn on the water.

Something to Try: DIY!

A body scrub is one of the easiest beauty products to whip up at home. We love this recipe, adapted from All Natural Beauty, by Karin Berndl and Nici Hofer.

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Add 2 Tbsp avocado oil to 1 Tbsp softened coconut oil. Stir in 3 Tbsp sea salt or raw sugar along with an essential oil: either 10 drops peppermint, 5 drops eucalyptus, 3 drops lemon, or 3 drops sage. Mix well. Transfer to a mason jar. Scrub may be kept in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 months.

Skip the loofah: Instead, massage your scrub in with your hands, using a circular motion. Aim for the end of your shower, when dead skin cells are easier to remove.

This story originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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