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The Benefits of Exfoliating the Body

Body Scrubs: Why Your Skin Needs One

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Main Image – Live That Glow

As someone who’s spent half my life in the laser-focused pursuit of glowing skin I have a pretty full routine of serums, masks, acids and moisturisers.  But for all the time I spend looking after the skin on my face I’m surprisingly negligent about the skin on my body.

If you’re anything like me that means spending hundreds of pounds and countless hours lovingly grooming skin on the face but totally neglecting skin on the body until the two weeks before a sun holiday when I suddenly start scrubbing and moisturising with a single-minded dedication (it’s amazing how motivating the thought of getting semi-naked on a beach in front of a load of strangers is).

The thing is that suddenly exfoliating skin loads and expecting it to look better wasn’t really getting me anywhere and can actually cause it to become dry and irritated (kind of an own goal there), so recently I’ve been making more of an effort to stick to a body exfoliation routine that’s regular and consistent.

Because actually there’s quite a lot to love about using scrubs regularly.

Softens Skin and Makes You Glow

Whether you choose a sugar, salt, walnut shell or even coffee ground-based scrub, they all pretty much carry out the same function; removing a layer of dead skin cells that have built up.

As skin cell turnover slows down from every 14 to 21 days in our 20s to every 28 to 45 days in our 30s, dead cells can build up leaving skin prone to dullness, blemishes, roughness or flaking.

Healthline says, “When dry skin isn’t removed, it makes the skin rough to the touch and has a dull, cracked texture and appearance. By removing the dead, dry cells, you should have smoother and more even skin.”

By gently removing dead cells skin feels softer, while a smoother surface allows light to bounce off it- giving us a healthy glow (the one summer I did actually remember to exfoliate a few times a week for about three months I’m pleased to say I achieved the dewy glow of a particularly glittery mermaid- reason enough to get in the habit again).

Improves Circulation

Using physical exfoliators to scrub the body (as opposed to chemical exfoliants like AHAs), causes circulation to improve by stimulating blood flow.  This in turn can help skin look more even which can temporarily diminish the look of cellulite (I’ve definitely noticed more even looking skin tone on the backs of my legs after using a body scrub so it’s something I quite enjoy doing before a night out or trip to the beach).

Stimulating blood flow can also improve collagen production- which could help keep skin firmer and healthier.

Reviewing Herbivore's Coco Rose Body Polish

Image – Live That Glow

Helps Products Absorb Better

Before I got into the habit of exfoliating, I found my moisturisers sort of sat on my skin slightly, and while they made it softer the results didn’t last beyond a few hours.

Luckily, by removing the layer of dead skin cells covering healthy skin products like moisturiser, body oils or any treatments can absorb better.

Healthline backs this up, saying that by removing “dead skin cell buildup, any moisturizer applied afterward will soak into the skin more thoroughly.”

This is good news both for skin and for your wallet because the products you’ve spent your money on have more of a chance to do their job- and I’ve definitely noticed my skin now feels moisturised for much longer.

Saves on Pedicures

While I’m normally guilty of pretty much ignoring my feet until just before I go on holiday (you see a pattern emerging here), by scrubbing my heels while I’m in the bath or shower I can honestly say I probably won’t be needing to make any last-minute calls to my pedicurist this year.  Just make sure if you’re using an oil-based exfoliator to take extra care when you’re moving around.

Some Tips

  • Don’t overdo it: Exfoliating one to three times a week is just great.
  • Be consistent: Keep a regular scrub routine to avoid over-exfoliating just before holidays etc and to get skin glowing all year round.
  • Don’t scrub too hard: Be gentle because massaging a product in too hard will just irritate skin possibly making it red and dry (really the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve).  Take extra care on areas like the chest where skin gets more sun exposure and can be sensitive.
  • Choose the right product: In the same way, don’t choose a scrub with exfoliating granules that feel sharp or too harsh on skin. Instead try to pick one in a creamy or oil base which will leave skin moisturised as you go.  My own favourites include Frank Body’s Original Coffee Scrub, which contains caffeine to improve circulation, and Herbivore’s Coco Rose Body Polish, which contains coconut oil, shea butter and meadowfoam seed oil to moisturise and smells beautiful.
  • Skip the exfoliating beads: For really sensitive skin types that can’t tolerate scented ingredients and granule scrubs try using a sea sponge alongside your regular shower gel to gently buff without irritating skin.

The Takeaway

Done gently and consistently, exfoliating the body is great for dewy, healthy-looking skin. There are plenty of great products out there but in the same way that it’s important to pick an SPF that’s affordable so you’re not tempted to skimp when you use it, the same is true when buying a body scrub.

While it can be tempting to go for the ultra-luxe, beautifully-packaged types that look great on the side of the bath, a product which costs the equivalent of a day’s salary is not one you’re going to want to use that often. So stick to one that feels like good value and enjoy!




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Sally Underwood is a journalist, *serious* beauty fan, and Editor-in-Chief of Live That Glow. Formerly Editorial Director of one of Europe's largest newspaper groups, Sally has been a beauty obsessive since her teen years spent dragging her long-suffering (but immaculately-groomed) friends around every beauty counter in London. She now leads Live That Glow's editorial operations.

Expertise: Skincare, Body care
Education: University College London

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