Body Scrubs

Everything You Need To Know About Body Scrubs

body scrubs
••• All body scrubs contain three ingredients: an abrasive like salt; an emollient like oil; and a scent like lemon, ginger or essential oil. Getty Images

Body scrubs can mean one of three things: a spa treatment; an at-home treatment; or the actual product you use to do the body scrub. Body scrubs as the spa are considered to be a facial for your body, exfoliating your skin and keeping it smooth and hydrated. It also stimulates your blood circulation and is one of the most under-appreciated spa treatments, especially if a Vichy shower is involved. When else do you get to take a shower lying down?


At-home body scrubs are not as effective, but they're easy to do yourself. You can do them with a body scrub that you buy for anywhere from $5-$40. Even better, you can make your own all-natural body scrub with no synthetic ingredients for a fraction of the cost. No matter which way you go, body scrubs have these three ingredients:

  • An exfoliant. This is the abrasive material like salt, sugar, rice bran, jojoba beads, apricot kernels, coffee grounds, oatmeal etc. that rubs away the dead skin cells on the surface, revealing the softer, younger cells just below.
  • Oil. This holds the mixture together. More expensive body scrubs usually have more expensive oils like macadamia oil, kukui nut oil and sweet almond oil.
  • Fragrance. Ideally, the fragrance comes from high-quality essential oils or from natural ingredients like ginger, honey and spices. These are found in more expensive body scrubs and the ones you make yourself. Budget body scrubs will have synthetic fragrances and other synthetic ingredients.

    The price of body scrubs is determined by the quality of the ingredients (high-quality and green vs. lower quality and synthetic), the brand identity (high-end or budget) and where it's sold (spa or specialty store vs. drug store.)

    Body scrubs might also have skin-nourishing ingredients and chemical exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) to dissolve the intra-cellular "glue" that holds cells together.

    For instance, B. Kamins, Chemist Maple Sugar Body Scrub is a high-end scrub enriched with proprietary Bio-Maple Sugar, which has natural antioxidants and AHA acids. That can send the price even higher.

    If you want an inexpensive, high-quality body scrub, it's easy to make your own. Here's a salt scrub recipe and how to give yourself a body scrub at home. Once a week is fine.

    Body scrubs at the spa are more thorough and tend to leave your skin softer because the therapist works longer and gets into areas you can't reach easily, like the middle of your back.The therapist might use special equipment like a Vichy shower to rinse you off.

    Body scrubs at the spa are usually combined with an application of lotion or short massage, which is relaxing. You can get a body scrub at the spa every once in a while, and maintain at home.

    When Not to Use a Body Scrub

    If you have a sunburn or are experiencing a rash or other skin condition, don't use a body scrub. The ingredients are abrasive and will further irritate your skin. You’ll also want to skip it after shaving if your scrub contains salt or any chemical ingredients. Finally, never use a body scrub on your face, where the skin is thinner and more delicate.

    Body scrubs are designed for the tougher skin on your body.