Top Ten

7 Body Exfoliants That Will Renew and Rejuvenate Your Skin

best body exfoliants and scrubs for your skin


If you’re a skin care enthusiast, you know how important exfoliation is in making sure your skin stays in top form. Although your face may have kept its radiant glow, you may be guilty of neglecting the rest of your body. A shame—really—considering that we naturally shed millions of dead skin cells every day. And when left unaddressed, this can build up on the skin’s surface and lead to ingrown hairs and acne. But not to worry—that’s what exfoliation is for.

“Proper exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, uncovering fresh new skin and improving skin tone. It allows for products to penetrate deeper and work more effectively and also serves to unclog pores,” says board-certified dermatologist Rhonda Klein, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.D.

New York dermatologist Bobby Buka, M.D., contributing founder and chief science officer of First Aid Beauty, seconds this, adding, “The other thing about exfoliation is that it improves circulation, which, in addition to the overall health benefits, improves the skin’s elasticity and helps alleviate signs of scars and cuts.”

Types of Exfoliants for the Body

Exfoliators are classified as either chemical or physical, and depending on your skin type, both can be incorporated into your beauty regimen. “Chemical exfoliants are good for most skin types as they work to dissolve dead skin cells rather than using grains or particles. Non-abrasive exfoliators often tend to hydrate the skin as well,” explains spa industry professional Julie Pankey.

Physical exfoliators or scrubs, on the other hand, use grains—from sugar, clay, plants or nuts, to name a few—to rid the skin of surface impurities. They work best for those with dry and flaky skin as the fine granules can slough off dirt and debris to reveal fresher, brighter skin. But if you have sensitive skin, Pankey says to proceed with caution as larger-grained body scrubs can cause irritation and micro-tears.

Glycolic acid works best for chemical exfoliation, says board-certified dermatologist and beauty expert Anna Guanche, M.D., “because the acidity allows sulfide bonds between the dead skin cells to break down so that the cells will let go,” she explains. Additionally, Dr. Klein recommends exfoliants with lactic and salicylic acids, willow bark extracts and proteolytic enzymes (like papain and bromelain—enzymes that break down protein and aid in tissue growth).

Now that you know how important exfoliation is for your skin, it’s time to give your body some well-deserved TLC. Here are our top picks for best exfoliating products for your body.

  1. 1. Paula's Choice RESIST Weightless Body Treatment 2 Percent BHA
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    1. Paula's Choice RESIST Weightless Body Treatment 2 Percent BHA

    If your sebaceous glands are on the overactive side, you’ll want to keep your skin care products as lightweight as possible. And that’s where this body lotion comes in. Formulated for oily and combination skin, it features salicylic acid, green tea and vitamin E to help keep breakouts at bay, boost collagen production and even out texture and tone.

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  2. 2. SkinCeuticals Body Retexturing Treatment
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    2. SkinCeuticals Body Retexturing Treatment

    True to its name, this gel body treatment, featuring a formula that blends a 17.7 percent hydroxyethyl urea/aminosulfonic acid compound with 4 percent niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, improves, hydrates and renews dry and damaged skin in your entire body—from your arms and elbows down to your knees and heels.

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  3. 3. Dermalogica Thermafoliant Body Scrub
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    3. Dermalogica Thermafoliant Body Scrub

    This exfoliating body scrub shaves years off your appearance and leaves your skin with a youthful, radiant glow. Infused with lactic and malic acids, it improves texture and sloughs away dead skin cells while moisturizing skin, strengthening its natural barrier and quenching free radicals.

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  4. 4. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body
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    4. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body

    Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to leave that cold-weather skin behind and amp up your glow with this set of pre-soaked exfoliating towelettes. Infused with vitamin E, soy proteins and AHAs (lactic and glycolic acids), this sunless tanner delivers natural-looking color deep into the skin while helping to reduce blackheads, acne scars and roughness.

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  5. 5. SUSANNE KAUFMANN Body Scrub
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    5. SUSANNE KAUFMANN Body Scrub

    If your skin is showing tell-tale signs of dryness and dehydration (parched, flaky and dull-looking skin), this is the body scrub for you. Infused with plant-based hyaluronic acid, St. John’s wort and coneflower extracts, and vitamins A, C and E, it gently rids your skin of surface debris while replenishing lost moisture. It also features astringent, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties for those with sensitive skin.

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  6. 6. First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub with 10% AHA
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    6. First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub with 10% AHA

    Combining both physical and chemical exfoliants in one formula, this body scrub is all you need to relieve itchy skin and sweep away rough, dry bumps or keratosis pilaris. Glycolic and lactic acids absorb deeply into the skin to dissolve dead cells and unclog pores, while pumice buffing beads keep your complexion clear and radiant by sloughing away surface impurities.

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  7. 7. Eminence Organic Skin Care Coconut Sugar Scrub
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    7. Eminence Organic Skin Care Coconut Sugar Scrub

    There’s no better way to pamper your skin and keep it free of dirt and dead skin cells than with this hydrating body scrub that features raw-sugar-cane granules, coconut oil and cucumber to gently renew, moisturize and revitalize your complexion. It is also infused with a BioComplex formula that’s packed with antioxidants, coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid, to restore, condition and strengthen skin, leaving it more radiant and youthful-looking.
    How Often Should You Exfoliate Your Body
    While exfoliation is essential in boosting cell turnover, Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare founder and formulator Ben Johnson, M.D., says that too much scrubbing and peeling can actually do your skin more harm than good. He explains that forced exfoliation creates holes in the epidermal layer and “forces the epidermis to go into survival mode,” causing the skin to divert collagen, antioxidants and crucial nutrients from the dermis in an attempt to repair the damage. “This, combined with the increased risk of inflammation and micro-scarring and the resulting stress to the immune system, creates a stage for premature aging and an increase in free radicals, dryness, irritation and redness, sun sensitivity and melanin activity,” adds Dr. Johnson.
    For those with dry and dehydrated skin, Dr. Johnson recommends using a mild enzyme exfoliant two to three times a week to help “smooth out the upper epidermal layers without causing inflammation.” Pankey echoes this and adds that for sensitive skin, “Once a week is a good start to see how your skin responds.”

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Beauty Reporter

Janeca Racho

With over 10 years of writing and editing experience, Janeca Racho has worked with clients in the fashion, entertainment, food, health and travel industries. An adventurer at heart, she will gladly trade her heels for a good pair of hiking shoes and skip hotels to camp under the stars. She loves horror movies, googling ingredients in her beauty products and backpacking trips with her toddler. Her newfound obsession: nude lipstick.