Scrub-a-dub dub, do you shower or bathe in the tub?
Pardon our nursery rhyme, but regardless of how you freshen up, we do want to know one thing: are you exfoliating your body when you bathe?
If not, maybe it’s time to start, at least according to the expert dermatologists we interviewed for this article.
While many people know to exfoliate the face with face washes and scrubs two to three times a week, it’s not as commonly known that the rest of your skin needs a good scrub, too. That’s why we wanted to write a new piece all about the body, sharing tips and tricks for how often to exfoliate head-to-toe and what products to use to make your skin glow post shower.
Related: the best facial exfoliants of 2022, according to experts.
Read on for the full rundown, or jump right to the good stuff and get shopping.
What does exfoliating your body do?
“Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells which are actually the keratinocytes (epidermal cells) that comprise the top layer of the epidermis called the stratum corneum,” explained Dr. Anthony Rossi Jr., dermatologist and assistant attending at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “This stratum corneum are skin cells that form a protective layer at the top to help with the epidermal barrier.”
Dr. Rossi is also the founder of Dr. Rossi Derm MD Skincare, specializing in clean, clinical skincare for the face and body.
Who should exfoliate? It really depends on the skin type of the person, ranging from dry to oily. Dr. Meghan O’Brien MD, of Tribeca Park Dermatology and Greenwich Point Dermatology, wanted to be sure to make that difference clear, as to not irritate anyone’s skin.
“Patients with keratosis pilaris will notice improved smoothness of the skin with regular exfoliation,” said Dr. O’Brien. “Keratosis pilaris is caused by small skin plugs around the small hair follicles on our body most commonly on the upper arms but can be found on other parts of the body as well such as buttocks and legs. Those with dry skin may have flaking skin that needs to be moisturized rather than exfoliated while oily skin types may be able to tolerate stronger/more frequent exfoliation.”
How often should you exfoliate?
So now we know what exfoliating does, but how often should we do it? This is also dependent on your skin type, as explained by Dr. O’Brien.
“Think about exfoliants in two categories: physical exfoliation using washes or scrubs that have texture that physically removes skin cells when rubbed over the skin, and chemical exfoliants such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid which turn skin cells over when applied to the skin,” O’Brien said. “Your skin type and the strength of the exfoliant will determine the frequency. For those with sensitive skin or dry skin start with no more than once weekly.”
Tips and tricks for using a body exfoliating scrub
“Don’t overdo it or you may be left with dry, rough, irritated skin as a result, especially in the cold winter months in NYC,” warned Dr. O’Brien.
There are some other tricks for protecting your skin after exfoliating, too. Make sure to use lotion after, to lock in moisture and make sure your skin isn’t irritated. Also, don’t double exfoliate, as many common products have acids and other ingredients that can irritate the skin.
“Salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid are exfoliants found in skin care products and if you use another exfoliant in addition you are more likely to get irritation,” added O’Brien.
Shop the best body exfoliating scrubs, salves and more
Dr. O’Brien recommends this gentle scrub from Kiehl’s to get the job done. The grapefruit scent is refreshing and clean, while the aloe vera and chamomile comforts and calms the skin.
Dr. Rossi of course stands by his formula for a great exfoliating product. The Solution is a option for the face, but can be used on the neck and lower on the body as well to resurface and refine pores.
For the full body, Dr. Rossi recommend the Skinfix Resurface Body Scrub, packed with glycolic and lactic acids to resurface the skin.
If you have KP, Dr. Rossi stands by this lotion from AmLactin, sold on Amazon. It can be used wherever you have KP bumps or redness and both exfoliates and moisturizes to repair dry skin.
Don’t forget the feet! Dr. Rossi loves this foot peel to exfoliate away dry and rough skin on the feet. The booties have all the magic inside, loosening dry skin layers and allowing them to gently peel off.
Dr. O’Brien also agrees that AmLactin is the way to go for an exfoliating and moisturizing product. This lotion can be used all over the body for gentle exfoliant, as well as a moisturizer to protect the skin barrier.
Dr. O’Brien chooses Paula’s Choice and so do we. This treatment is made just for the body, containing 2% BHA to resurface the skin, minimize pores and more.
Start your exfoliating journey in the shower or bath, with this exfoliating body wash. Recommended by Dr. O’Brien, the body wash and lotion duo are the perfect combination when fighting KP or dry skin.
Last but not least, Dr. O’Brien loves this sparkly Sunday Riley body scrub. The Charcoal Smoothie line has salicylic acid, natural exfoliating powders and of course the detox power of charcoal to leave skin shiny and new.
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