A body scrub is a popular body treatment that is basically a facial for the body: It exfoliates and hydrates your skin, leaving it smooth and soft. A body scrub is done with an abrasive material—usually sea salt or sugar—mixed with some kind of massage oil and an aromatic like essential oils. If the scrub uses salt, it might be called a salt scrub, salt glow, or sea salt scrub.
The scrub is followed by an application of high-quality lotion or cream that leaves your skin hydrated. A body scrub is not technically a massage because body treatments can be performed by estheticians, who are only licensed to work on skin, not the underlying muscle tissue (unless they are giving massage to the face, neck, and shoulders.)
Everything You Need to Know About Exfoliating: Scrubs and Polish
What Happens During a Body Scrub?
A body scrub usually takes place in a wet room, which has a tile floor and a drain. The therapist may offer you disposable underwear then leave the room while you get situated. You will start face-down on a massage table that is covered with a towel, a sheet, or a thin piece of plastic, or on a special wettable with a Vichy shower overhead. In that case, you won't have to get up to be rinsed off.
The therapist will return and start by gently rubbing the exfoliant on your back, the backs of your arms, and the backs of your legs and feet. You may be draped with a towel so only the part he/she is working on is exposed. Then you turn over and he/she does the other side.
When the therapist is finished, you usually step into a shower to rinse off. Be sure to rinse thoroughly so you don't take little granules back to the table. And don't use shower gel—it's good to keep the oil and aromatics on your skin. If the spa is doing the treatment on a wet table, the therapist will either rinse you off with a hand-held shower or turn on a Vichy shower.
If you step into the shower, the therapist will put clean sheets on the treatment table while you're showering and step out of the room again. You dry off and lie face-down on the treatment table underneath a sheet or towel. Then the therapist returns and applies body lotion or oil.
Other Things You Should Know
- Some spas do body scrubs in a room without a shower and remove the exfoliant with steamed towels.
- You can get a body scrub on its own, but often it's the first step in a body wrap, often a seaweed or mud wrap, or signature treatments.
- You can also combine a body scrub with a massage. Get the body scrub first because it is stimulating, whereas the massage calms you down. Some spas have signature treatments that combine both body scrub and massage.
- Salt and other exfoliants can be abrasive, and some therapists have a heavier hand than others. Individuals also differ in their skin sensitivity. If it feels too harsh, speak up.
- Many states allow estheticians and even people without any kind of license to do body scrubs and other body treatments because it is not a massage. You may want to request a massage therapist.