The Right Way to Use a Body Scrub and a Dry Brush

Smiling black woman exfoliating with a body scrub
  Jutta Klee/Getty Images 

Exfoliating is the key to soft, fresh skin. Body scrubs have long been the go-to way to exfoliate, but the beauty industry game is always changing. Now we've got body polishes, and the age-old practice of dry brushing has hit the mainstream in recent years. Here's what you need to know about body scrubs, body polishes, and dry brushes.

Body Scrub vs. Body Polish

Body scrubs use grainy ingredients like sugar or oats to slough off dead skin and reveal the smoothness and radiance beneath. They're popular for a reason—you can see and feel the results immediately. Fine, soft grains are better than anything too sharp or jagged, as the latter may leave little tears in the skin. Microbeads are also on their way out since they're notorious for polluting the oceans and rivers.

Body polishes are relatively new to the market. They're pretty much the same as body scrubs, but some formulations are gentler since the beauty industry is trending toward nourishing ingredients like oils, clays, and coffee grounds. "Body polish" is mostly a marketing term, but it can feel brand new. And anything that gets you excited about skincare and self-care is a good thing.

How to Apply a Body Scrub

For the best results, make sure you're scrubbing correctly. Here are some tips: 

  • Use your hands. No need to use a brush; your hands will do the best work. If you feel wary about dipping your fingers into the container, use a clean wooden spoon to scoop out the product, then apply the scrub to your body with your hands.
  • Scrub toward your heart. This is a spa secret, and the claim is that it's best for circulation. Start at your feet and massage the scrub in a circular motion up the legs and the torso. Continue at your fingertips and massage up the arm.
  • Don't scrub every day. It's tempting to scrub daily since the results feel so good, but over-exfoliating can be harsh on your skin. Do it only a couple of times a week. If you have sensitive skin, do it even less frequently, and be gentle with yourself.
  • Follow up with a body oil or moisturizer. Since scrubbing can strip your skin of moisture, make sure to restore it every time.

Scrub before you shave. This helps remove dead skin cells so you can get a cleaner, smoother shave.

What Is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing might seem novel but it's actually an ancient Ayurvedic technique. Also known as skin brushing, it involves taking a special tool called a dry brush—which typically has a long wooden handle and stiff, natural bristles—and massaging your entire body with it from your feet up. The benefits?

  • Relieves tension
  • Detoxifies skin
  • Exfoliates
  • Stimulates cell growth
  • Improves circulation
  • Facilitates lymphatic drainage
  • Temporarily minimizes the look of cellulite

Here's how to do it:

  1. Get naked and step into the shower. Do not turn the water on; this should be a dry process, as the name hints.
  2. Starting at your feet, brush your skin from your toes on up to the top of your thighs. Short, swift strokes are best. Always move toward the heart. 
  3. Now go over the same area, but do slow, circular motions. 
  4. Brush from your stomach up to your chest. This might be a sensitive area but will get desensitized as you get acclimated to dry brushing. 
  5. Move on to your arms, going from the fingertips on up to the shoulders. 
  6. Brush the skin on your buttocks from bottom to top. 
  7. Brush the lower back on up to the shoulders. 
  8. When finished, store your dry brush away, then take a warm shower. 
  9. Immediately after showering, apply a generous amount of body oil or moisturizer all over your body.

Whether you're faithful to your favorite scrub or curious about body polishes and dry brushes, exfoliating is a loving act of self-care. Enjoy.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Want a smooth, safe shave? try these tips. Updated December 24, 2020.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. The truth about dry brushing and what it does for you. Updated January 26, 2015.

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