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We know it can be hard enough to remember to make facial exfoliation a regular part of your routine, but don't let exfoliating the skin below your chin fall by the wayside, either. Just like with your complexion, regularly sloughing off dead, dull skin is an essential step in warding off dryness. You can slather on moisturizer all day, every day, but if there's a build-up of dead cells blocking it, all the lotion in the world isn't going to work. Those few extra minutes spent exfoliating in the shower can make all the difference when it comes to achieving, smoothing, glowing skin—we promise.
Ahead, you'll find the best body scrubs that are so good you'll never forget to use them.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Debra Jaliman is a New York City board-certified dermatologist. She's an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai and the author of "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist."
Best Overall: Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator
Offers dual exfoliation
3 scent options
Can make a mess in the shower
This just may be one of the best scrubs we've ever used, hands down, a team Byrdie fave for the ideal scrubby, though not abrasive, texture. It's a result of the combination of bamboo charcoal and pumice that mechanically exfoliate. There are also glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids in the mix to further up the exfoliating benefits. The fragrance-free variant is a great choice for sensitive skin, though it also comes in sandalwood and eucalyptus scents. All three are sophisticated, as is the chic and minimalistic packaging.
Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid | Size: 6.3 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Budget: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Illuminating Hand and Body Scrub
Affordable and good value
Nice soothing scent
Hard to scoop out of the jar
You'll get plenty of bang for your buck with this scrub. It's an awesome body exfoliator, for sure, though per the name, it's also incredibly effective for use on dry, chapped hands; credit the addition of vitamin E, coconut oil, and lots of fatty acids. At this price, go ahead and pick up two so that you can keep one in the shower and one by your sink.
Active Ingredients: Vitamin E | Size: 12 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Drugstore: Dove Exfoliating Body Polish
Smoothly and easily spreads onto skin
Contains environmentally harmful microbeads
There are a plethora of great body scrubs to be found at the drugstore, but check this one out. In true Dove fashion, it contains one-quarter moisturizer, giving it a lusciously creamy, almost whipped-like texture. While it comes in three other scent variants, we're partial to the relaxing lavender fragrance of this one, which is great to use pre-bedtime.
Active Ingredients: Calendula oil | Size: 10.5 oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"Effective for softening and gentle enough not to cause irritation or breakouts, this is a great option to try if you have an extra five minutes for your shower and want an exfoliator that works on sensitive skin types." — Donecia Pea, Product Tester
Best Dual Exfoliant: African Botanics Café Noir Body Exfoliant
Offers dual exfoliation
Includes omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9
Resurfacing to create a glow
When it comes to exfoliation, you can go one of two routes. There's physical or mechanical exfoliation, which involves using some type of particle (sugar, salt, seeds) to scrub off dead skin. Then there's chemical exfoliation, which uses various acids to dissolve dead cells. It largely boils down to a matter of personal preference, but if you want to get skin that's silky smooth, seeking out a product that combines both methods is a good way to go. Enter this formula. It touts both coffee beans and crushed Marula nut shell powder, as well as a blend of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids so that you get the best of both worlds.
Active Ingredients: Black coffee beans, Marula nut shell powder, alpha hydroxy acids | Size: 6.76 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dry Skin: UpCircle Coffee and Lemongrass Exfoliating Body Scrub
Full of natural ingredients
Made with the environment in mind
Difficult to wash off
Slightly waxy feel
It can sometimes feel like exfoliating dry skin may just dry it out even further—and sure, if you choose the wrong scrub or overdo it, that can indeed be the case. But exfoliating is even more imperative when you're dealing with dryness, and this pick is amazing for parched skin. It contains shea butter, which is great for hydration, and relies on gentle coffee grounds to exfoliate and polish the skin, leaving it smoother and brighter, says New York City dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman of one of her top picks.
Active Ingredients: Coffea arabica seed powder | Size: 7 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Keratosis Pilaris: Skinfix Resurface+ Glycolic Renewing Scrub
Great for mature skin
Made with biodegradable ingredients
Easy to use and dispense
Can be too abrasive for sensitive skin
Are you dealing with keratosis pilaris (also called KP, and are those annoying bumps on the backs of your arms)? The bad news is there's no treatment for it. The good news is that regular exfoliation, particularly with this formula, can help. It acts as a mechanical exfoliant and chemical peel in one. Biodegradable bamboo polishers do the physical scrubbing, while glycolic and lactic acids tackle the rest.
Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid 7%, lactic acid 6% | Size: 8 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Differin Acne Clearing Daily Body Scrub
Gentle enough for daily use
Offers dual exfoliation
Affordable and good value
No, you can't scrub away acne. (In fact, over-exfoliating can exacerbate acne.) Although, the right type and amount of sloughing are important for helping to keep pores clear. Enter this effective scrub, which is still gentle enough that it can be used daily. It combines hydrating vitamin E exfoliating beads along with oil-dissolving salicylic acid and radiance-boosting glycolic acid, great for not only keeping blemishes at bay but also warding off the appearance of leftover, telltale dark marks.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid 2% | Size: 8 oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Sensitive Skin: Avene Gentle Scrub
Very gentle and hydrating
Easy to use and dispense
Provides free radical protection
Has less dramatic effect than other scrubs
Yes, you can exfoliate, even if you have sensitive skin—you just need to be a little more strategic in your sloughing. Enter this formula, a super gentle version that relies on teeny-tiny jojoba beads for very gentle exfoliation (so much so that it feels like a body wash). Meanwhile, the brand's patented, soothing thermal spring water and a trio of nourishing oils help to impart hydration. Plus, because it's only meant to be used once or twice a week, one bottle lasts quite a long time.
Active Ingredients: Avene thermal spring water | Size: 6.7 oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Natural: Herbivore Coco Rose Exfoliating Body Scrub
Super fine yet effective exfoliating grains
Full of organic ingredients
Coconut smell can turn off some
This standout scrub is so good (and so natural) that it nabbed a coveted Byrdie Eco Beauty Award in 2019. On that note, it boasts a clean and minimal ingredient list, relying on naturals such as sugar for exfoliation, and coconut oil and shea butter for hydration. The sugar crystals deliver the best level of exfoliation; the subtle, sweet-smelling rose scent is just a bonus.
Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, sugar | Size: 8 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Foaming: Kyn Care Sugar Cookie Foaming Sugar Scrub
Delicious variety of scents
Handmade and vegan
Scent may be strong for some
Not only will these foaming sugar scrubs from Kyn Care leave your skin oh-so-smooth and soft, but they're super fun to use, too. They're available in a wide variety of drool-worthy scents (think: sugar cookie, cupcake frosting, and salted caramel), but the brand was founded as a remedy for eczema, so you can trust it's gentle enough for sensitive skin. Plus, the brand is entirely vegan, cruelty-free, and handmade, so you can feel good using each product.
Active Ingredients: Sugar, glycerin | Size: 8 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Multi-Tasker: OUAI Scalp & Body Scrub
Can use on face and scalp
Hard to scoop out of the jar
Byrdie Senior Editor Holly Rhue sings the praises of this do-it-all formula. The sugar-based scrub is just as effective at sloughing off dry patches on your body as it is at removing dead skin and product build-up from your scalp. (Because your scalp needs just as much TLC as the skin on your face and body, and regular scalp exfoliation can help ensure your strands stay strong and healthy.) It also foams up ever so slightly when mixed with water, which, combined with the heavenly rose-musk scent, makes for a delightful, enjoyable exfoliating experience.
Active Ingredients: Sugar, coconut oil, probiotic blend | Size: 8.8 oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Salt Scrub: M3 Naturals Himalayan Salt Body Scrub
Infused with collagen and stem cell
Formula is dry
Salt is one of the oldest and most commonly-used exfoliating ingredients out there, and it's the star of the show in this scrub. Jaliman is a fan: "It's great at removing dead skin but also helps to remove bacteria, too," she says. (It's also a go-to for Amazon shoppers, who repeatedly rave about how well it exfoliates without ever over-drying skin.) To that point, since salt can be drying, we appreciate that there are moisturizing oils and aloe in the base for hydration purposes.
Active Ingredients: Himalayan salt, collagen | Size: 12 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Sugar Scrub: Tree Hut Moroccan Rose Shea Sugar Scrub
Intoxicating floral smell
Texture is a bit rough
For those who naturally have drier or more easily irritated skin, sugar is the best exfoliating ingredient. It still scrubs but is also innately hydrating. "This sugar-based option is gentle enough even for sensitive skin and contains argan oil and shea butter for hydrating purposes," says Jaliman. The affordable price, subtle rose scent, and pretty pink color don't hurt either.
Active Ingredients: Sugar, shea butter, natural oils | Size: 18 oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Coffee Scrub: Drunk Elephant Sugared Koffie Almond Milk Body Scrub
Quickly melts into skin
Doesn't disrupt the skin barrier
Whether or not you like to sip a cup of coffee—or two—in the morning, you'll appreciate that this scrub contains coffee seed oil. The oil is a good source of caffeine, a choice ingredient for stimulating circulation (and also helping to temporarily minimize the look of cellulite, making this a nice choice for booty buffing). Sugar does the scrubbing part of things, while almond milk helps to hydrate the skin. If it sounds like it smells delicious, you're right; it does. The fragrance is reminiscent of a yummy latte in the best way possible.
Active Ingredients: Sugar, coffea arabica (coffee) seed oil | Size: 9 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Scent: Skin Buttr Gingr Lemon Scrub
Natural, minimal ingredients
Boosts skin elasticity
Relaxes the muscles
Changed formula, larger product granules
Not a morning person? No problem! This sugar-based scrub boasts the most uplifting and invigorating ginger lemon scent that'll instantly energize you—an ideal way to start your day—while the shea butter, castor oil, and coconut oil base nourish and soften your skin. Ginger lemon not your thing? The scrub is offered in a variety of other delectable scent combinations like honey almond, strawberry coconut, and pomegranate mango, too.
Active Ingredients: Sugar, shea butter, castor oil, coconut oil | Size: 8 oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Exfoliating most definitely deserves a spot in your body care routine. The Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator is our favorite go-to, combining both chemical and physical exfoliants in an effective yet gentle formula. There are tons of great wallet-friendly options out there, too, like the Dove Exfoliating Body Polish and the Tree Hut Moroccan Rose Shea Sugar Scrub (the latter of which is a very hydrating sugar scrub that’s a nice pick for those with sensitive skin), while the Differin Acne Clearing Daily Body Scrub is choice for anyone battling blemishes.
What to Look for in a Body Scrub
According to Jaliman, there’s really only one main thing to consider: the scrubbing particles. Sugar-based options are more hydrating and less harsh, a good pick for those with sensitive or drier skin, she says. "Salt scrubs are good for those with very dry, rough skin who need deep exfoliation," she adds. There are other scrubbies, too. Jojoba beads are typically gentler, while any type of nut or seed shell or powder is a bit more intense.
What do body scrubs do?
They remove dead skin cells, leaving skin radiant and healthier. They also allow for your moisturizer to penetrate your skin better, says Jaliman.
How do you use a body scrub?
Jaliman suggests cleansing first, as this helps prep the skin for exfoliation. "Apply a generous amount of the scrub all over the body and gently rub it in in a circular motion. Rinse off after a few minutes and towel dry, then apply moisturizer immediately after," she says.
Are body scrubs safe for sensitive skin?
Yes, as long as you choose the right one. Look for gentle exfoliants in a formula that contain extra moisturizing ingredients, says Jaliman (and steer clear of coarser, dryer scrubs).
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She uses a body scrub at least once a week. Currently, she has the Differin product (which she uses to ward off backne), the Avene product, and the Necessaire product all stashed in her shower.
Kristen N. Glycolic acid vs. Salicylic acid: pros, cons, skin type suitability. Healthline.
Herman A, Herman AP. Caffeine's mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(1):8-14. doi:10.1159/000343174