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If You’re Not Doing This Pre-Shower, You’re Missing Out On Skin Care Benefits

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May 20, 2022

If you’re on the prowl for smooth, glowing skin all over (honestly, who isn’t?), a body exfoliator is a must-have shower staple. For some reason, many associate body scrubs, buffing tools, and the like with major skin pampering: only to use when you have ample time to sink into the tub, read a book, and soak away your troubles. Perhaps because it does take a bit longer to give yourself a proper scrub than, say, slather on an AHA face mask–you’re dealing with much more surface area, after all–but, oh, are the results worth it.

The best body exfoliators remove buildup to leave skin soft and refreshed, making it a must-add to your weekly routine. Whether you opt for a scrub, lotion, or dry brush, we did the work to find the worthy options that won’t damage your skin, all made with natural ingredients

How we picked:

Good-for-skin ingredients

Not only do we favor clean, naturally-derived ingredients–but we look for options that feed the skin nutrients.

Gentle & effective

We don’t believe in being harsh to your skin, so we opted for options that aren’t too abrasive. But of course: We want these to get the job done.

Variety

A good body exfoliator can come in many types, from chemical to physical. We included a plethora of options so you can find one that works for you.

Skin type & concern

We wanted to include formulas that can address several skin types and needs.

mbg’s picks for the best body exfoliators of 2022:

Best body scrub: Susanne Kaufmann Body Scrub

Susanne Kaufmann Body Scrub

VIEW ON Revolve | $76VIEW ON Dermstore | $76

Pros

Exfoliates and moisturizesCreamy texture

Cons

Pricey

Considerations: Cruelty-free, Physical exfoliator

Expect to see an immediate difference in your skin post-application. Our beauty testers say the scrub leaves your complexion brighter, skin texture smoother, and moisture barrier intact, thanks to its rich, creamy texture. No flaky, itchy skin, here. The formula calls on fine sea sand and pumice powder to gently buff the skin, as well as St. John’s wort and echinacea extract for their anti-inflammatory properties. Then for some welcome moisture and a butter-like feel, you’ll find hyaluronic acid, glycerin, olive oil, and sunflower seed oil.

Best AHA Lotion: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Glycolic Body Lotion

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Glycolic Body Lotion

VIEW ON Ulta | $25VIEW ON Sephora | $25

Pros

Combines exfoliation and moisturizing

Cons

Glycolic acid can be irritating

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Chemical exfoliator

Don’t have time for a body scrub pre-shower? Fold an AHA lotion into your routine post-rinse. You’re already lathering up after your shower, anyway (right?), and this acid-infused formula can play double duty: Along with glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids to resurface the skin, marula and shea butters help lock in all that moisture and nourish your complexion.

Best to use before shaving: Fur Silk Scrub

Fur Silk Scrub

VIEW ON Credo | $54VIEW ON Ulta | $54

Pros

Helps prevent ingrowns

Cons

Some prefer a stronger option

Considerations: Cruelty-free, Physical exfoliator, Chemical exfoliator

Pesky ingrowns are no match for this scrub. It contains a mix of both chemical exfoliators (glycolic acid and lactic acid) and physical granules (jojoba and castor oil beads) to prep your skin for the smoothest shave. Despite its double exfoliation power, the formula remains gentle enough to use on more sensitive areas, like the underarms or bikini line.

Best scent: Beneath Your Mask Polish- Detoxifying Body Scrub

Beneath Your Mask Polish- Detoxifying Body Scrub

VIEW ON Credo | $70VIEW ON Blue Mercury | $70

Pros

Great for oily skinDoubles as body mask

Cons

Essential oils can be irritating Pricey

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Physical exfoliator

For days you want to pamper all of your senses, look no further than this physical exfoliator. Along with sea salt granules, colloidal oat flour gently buffs the skin until it shines–and the fresh lavender-lemongrass scent is impossible to ignore. Hot tip: Leave the scrub on as a mask for a few minutes; it also contains bentonite clay, which can help draw out any gunk from the pores.

Best exfoliating glove: Face Halo Body Exfoliator

Face Halo Body Exfoliator

VIEW ON Amazon | $21VIEW ON Revolve | $22

Pros

Quick and easy

Cons

Too rough for some

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Fragrance-free, Physical exfoliator

Don’t sleep on a quality texture mitt. These physical exfoliators stimulate circulation through massaging motions, which helps reduce fine lines and aid in lymph flow to reduce buildup and bloating. We especially love this dual-sided mitt, as it features a wet and dry side to use in or out of the shower. For those who don’t have time to hop under the spray, it’s a game changer.

Best for sensitive skin: N?cessaire The Body Exfoliator

N?cessaire The Body Exfoliator

VIEW ON Sephora | $30VIEW ON Nordstrom | $30

Pros

Gentle formulaMoisturizing

Cons

Less of a “scrub” feel

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sensitive skin-safe, Physical exfoliator, Chemical exfoliator

Yes, this formula does contain glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and bamboo charcoal powder, but it’s actually gentle enough for sensitive skin. It barely has a “scrub” feel at all, unless you use the exfoliator on dry skin and emulsify just a bit while you massage. If you have hypersensitive skin, you might want to opt for the brand’s fragrance-free version–but this eucalyptus aroma is heavenly, if you can handle it.

Best body serum: Soft Services Smoothing Solution

Soft Services Smoothing Solution

VIEW ON Soft Services | $34

Pros

Great for acne-prone or oily skin

Cons

Not the best for sensitive skin

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Fragrance-free, Chemical exfoliator

Ever slathered an AHA serum on your face pre-moisturizer? Well, here’s a body care version. This gel-serum contains lactic acid and urea to address any textural or tonal concerns you may have, while aloe, centella asiatica, and hyaluronic acid help hydrate and soothe. Apply it on dry (not damp) skin, so the actives can easily penetrate, then layer with your favorite body lotion.

Best dry brush: Savor Beauty Dry Brush

Savor Beauty Dry Brush

VIEW ON Savor Beauty | $25

Pros

Stimulates circulation & lymphatic drainage

Cons

Takers longer to see changes

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sensitive skin-safe, Fragrance-free, Physical exfoliator

Dry brushing manually removes dead skin cells from the top layer of skin, improving its appearance and making following topical treatments more effective (plus other benefits, which you can read about here). That said, you want a stiff bristle that’s not too abrasive: We love this 100% vegan number, made from sisal (derived from plant fibers) and beech wood.

Best for KP: First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub

First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub

VIEW ON First Aid Beauty | $30VIEW ON Amazon | $30VIEW ON Dermstore | $30

Pros

Fast results

Cons

Reviewers report a strong smell

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Sensitive skin-safe, Physical exfoliator, Chemical exfoliator

If you’re dealing with keratosis pilaris (KP), a product named “KP Bump Eraser” sounds like a pretty safe bet, no? And it’s not just marketing: It contains pumice buffing beads to physically smooth texture, glycolic and lactic acids to unglue clogged pores, and vitamin E to condition the skin. A bonus: It’s completely fragrance-free, so those sensitive to scent can easily join the party.

Best for dull skin: Skinfix Resurface+ Glycolic and Lactic Acid Renewing Body Scrub

Skinfix Resurface+ Glycolic and Lactic Acid Renewing Body Scrub

VIEW ON Sephora | $32

Pros

Good value

Cons

Might be too abrasive for sensitive skin

Considerations: Vegan, Cruelty-free, Fragrance-free, Physical exfoliator, Chemical exfoliator

Another double-duty scrub, this formula contains both AHAs and naturally-derived BHAs to loosen dead skin cells and polish your complexion. It also contains fruit extracts (lemon and orange) to help brighten the skin, so you’ll notice a pretty immediate glow.

Best for body acne: Farmacy Honeymoon Glow Body 12% AHA/BHA Bump-Smoothing Night Serum

Farmacy Honeymoon Glow Body 12% AHA/BHA Bump-Smoothing Night Serum

VIEW ON Farmacy Beauty | $40VIEW ON Sephora | $40

Pros

Combats acne

Cons

Strong honey smell

Considerations: Cruelty-free, Chemical exfoliator

With 10% lactic acid and 2% salicylic acid, this serum is one potent acne-fighter. If that AHA-BHA blend has you running for the hills, don’t fret: It also contains shea butter, prickly pear leaf juice, and a blend of honey extracts (like propolis and royal jelly) to condition your skin simultaneously. Slather on clean, dry skin, apply body lotion, and wake up to smooth, hydrated skin.

How often should you exfoliate your body?

It’s a common question–one that requires thoughtful consideration, as going overboard can have some not-so-fun repercussions. Read: irritation, redness, inflammation, and overall raw, tight skin. Ouch. “The most important tip is that ‘less is more.’ You want to exfoliate just enough to increase cell turnover and reveal fresh new skin,” says Ife Rodney, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Eternal Dermatology.

What does this mean for the body? If you tend to have dry skin, stick to once a week; if you have oily or combination skin, you may be able to get away with twice or even three times a week. Your body may be able to handle more potent actives than the delicate skin on your face, but we suggest starting slow and working your way up to a more frequent cadence.

Just know that sneaky everyday items can also exfoliate your skin, sometimes without you even knowing it–like using a loofah to cleanse or a terry cloth towel post-rinse. On that note, check your cleansers to make sure you’re not using any AHA-laden formulas. You don’t want to pile on too many exfoliating actives.

Oh, and just as important as regular exfoliation? Moisturizing your skin after. Exfoliation without hydration is a recipe for a weakened skin barrier. (These are our favorite body lotions to support the skin barrier.)

mbg review process.

At mbg, high standards are earned–and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It’s a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it’s important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).

Our high standards also come from testing products–many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don’t simply rave about products we’ve slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we’ve tried and loved.

Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.

The takeaway.

Just like you might snag an enzyme face mask or acid-soaked peel pad to brighten the skin and swipe away textural concerns, you can send your body some of that love. And if you’d like to go the DIY route, that’s fine, too–here’s how to make your own luxurious blend at home.

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