Fact Checked

What is a Body Scrub?

G. Melanson
G. Melanson

Body scrub is a mixture of emollient and abrasive particles which is rubbed onto the surface of the skin in order to exfoliate dead skin cells. The emollient used in body scrub is typically a gentle cleanser or moisturizer which offsets the abrasive particles -- anything from tiny plastic beads to pieces of oatmeal. Body scrubs vary in their level of abrasiveness, which is usually indicated on the packaging. They may also contain natural ingredients, such as apricot, corn, olives, Shea butter, chamomile, aloe, and various herbs. Body scrub can be purchased for as little as a few dollars at most retail locations that sell cosmetics and skin care products, as well as spas and drugstores.

Most often used to slough away the surface layer of the skin, body scrub can help create a smoother surface and stimulate blood flow. This creates a deeper color in the skin, giving it a healthy-looking, vibrant glow. Certain brands of body scrub may be usable for both the face and other areas of the body; however, other brands are exclusively made for the face, and contain gentler ingredients which are less likely to cause skin irritation. While some people who use this product believe it is helpful in controlling acne, others argue that it causes irritation to the skin and can be over-drying, which can then cause the skin to produce an influx of oil and lead to more breakouts.

A salt-based body scrub.
A salt-based body scrub.

Body scrub is best applied to damp skin in a circular, gentle motion. It can also be applied in tandem with other exfoliating products, such as loofah sponges or gloves. After scrubbing with body scrub, the skin should be rinsed off with warm water and moisturized with a gentle, fragrance-free lotion. Applying toners or astringents containing alcohol or attempting to shave freshly-scrubbed skin is not recommended, as both can cause stinging and irritation.

Scrubs should be suited to a person's specific skin type.
Scrubs should be suited to a person's specific skin type.

Certain brands of body scrub which contain microplastic beads have come under fire from environmentalists in recent years, as research has shown that these beads cannot be filtered by sewage treatment systems. Subsequently, these particles end up in our oceans, where they can be ingested by aquatic animals. In comparison, homemade body scrub containing oatmeal, sugar or baking soda are considered a more environmentally-friendly alternative.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


I like some moisturizing body scrubs too, but it should not leave behind an oily veil on my skin. I use body scrub products to clean and exfoliate my skin, not get oiled up.

I also don't like body scrubs with very coarse, large granules. They irritate and over-dry my skin and I don't feel that they clean as well as scrubs with fine granules do.

One solution I've found for this problem is using face or hand scrubs instead of body scrubs in the shower. Face scrubs tend to be more gentle and have smaller granules in them. If I have a face scrub that's not working for my face, I put it in my shower and use it as a body scrub. It's essentially the same thing anyway.


@alisha-- I've never tried this, but I have friends who use natural salt or sugar body scrubs. I think all they do is take some coarse sugar or salt and rub it on their wet skin in the bath. I don't know if they add any natural oils to it, but I'm sure you could. In fact, coconut oil or olive oil would probably be amazing.

I personally use an organic body scrub that's made from all natural ingredients, but I didn't make it myself. I got it from an organic bath products store. It is made from natural oils, papaya extracts and papaya seeds. Papaya seeds are the exfoliant and the oil is the emollient. It smells wonderful and works really well.


I have a skin condition called keratosis pilaris, the more common name for it is chicken skin. It's basically a condition where the skin can't exfoliate itself because of too much skin protein. So these hard bumps form on top of the skin.

I've had this condition since I was a child on the back of my arms. It's really ugly and literally looks like I have goosebumps all the time. Recently, a dermatologist told me to use a body scrub in the shower to exfoliate that area. He said it should help open up the pores and clean the entrapped follicles.

I bought a body scrub and scrubbed the back of my arms several times in one week. I checked my arms yesterday and there is nothing! It looks like the bumps went away completely. The dermatologist was right. I don't know why I never used body scrubs before, but I'm going to use them regularly from now on. If my skin can't exfoliate itself, I sure can do it for my skin!

Right now, I'm using a store bought body scrub. But I really want to try natural homemade ones and I think that might be better for me in the long run. Does anyone have a simple recipe to make natural body scrub at home?


Oh, the microplastic beads are awful! I can't believe they get used then just washed out to see. They're too small to filter out and could be eaten by any unsuspecting animal. I think they should be banned.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A salt-based body scrub.
      By: Jiri Hera
      A salt-based body scrub.
    • Scrubs should be suited to a person's specific skin type.
      By: kubais
      Scrubs should be suited to a person's specific skin type.
    • Loofah sponges can be used with water to exfoliate the body.
      By: Sandy1983
      Loofah sponges can be used with water to exfoliate the body.