When youth is on our side, body scrubs renew themselves at a stunning rate, according to dermatologist Michaella Bolder. However, as we age, our cell turnover slows and depletes, taking approximately 90 days starting in our mid-20s.

She says exfoliating the skin every other day is essential to keeping it looking and feeling young, healthy, and radiant. “This will aid in accelerating the process of cell renewal and stimulate new blood flow, which can aid in reducing poor circulation and enhancing the tone of the skin.”

Michaella’s best advice? “Using an oil-based exfoliator is advised to avoid drying out and scratching the skin’s surface.”

Scrubs are one choice for improving your body care, but they’re not the only one. Did you know that a gentler, more practical alternative to the harsher scrub sensation may be found in chemical exfoliants?

Chemical exfoliants—why?

Don’t get us wrong; there is nothing more enjoyable than a good scrub. An afternoon spent watching particles and microbeads remove dead skin is a delightful experience. However, not all skin types are resistant to the abrasiveness of physical beads, so using a chemical exfoliant can be a more mild solution to have smooth, soft, and radiant skin.

What distinguishes a chemical exfoliant from a physical exfoliant?

According to aesthetician Dr. Grace Hula, “Physical exfoliation uses physical abrasives, such as scrubs or brushes, to physically slough dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.” Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are two chemical substances that are used in chemical exfoliation to dissolve the intercellular glue that holds dead skin cells to the surface of your skin.

Should I use a chemical exfoliant or a physical scrub?

In the end, it all comes down to what you want from your exfoliant and, to be completely honest, how diligent or careless you are about taking care of your body. (Let’s face it; in the winter, we’re all guilty of letting our routines go a little.)

Exfoliating physically is excellent for quick results. Scrubs remove live and active dead skin cells, which can rapidly improve the texture and tone of the skin. Scrubbing can also improve circulation and bring out the natural shine of the skin.

However, since severe abrasives can result in micro-tears in the skin, it’s crucial to use gentle physical exfoliants, such as soft bristle brushes and finely crushed scrubs. Anyone with sensitive skin should pay special attention to this and stick with smoother products.

Chemical exfoliants can be more effective and gentler at penetrating deeper into the skin to clear clogged pores and enhance overall skin health, according to Dr. Hula. The top layers of the skin are exfoliated by AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid, which can help to lessen the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Salicylic acid is an example of a BHA that is oil-soluble and can get deeper into pores to unclog them and stop breakouts.

“Those with sensitive skin should choose a fine-grain physical exfoliant or a gentle chemical option, and if you want to target chicken skin on the tops of arms and legs, keratosis pilaris, a chemical option could work.”

Chemical choices are typically leave-on if you want something that gives your skin a little nourishment. If you’ve already washed your hair or showered before you recall that tomorrow is tan day, this also makes it much more convenient.

Test Body Scrubs

250 at-home testers helped our specialists examine 13 chemical and physical body exfoliators. They provided feedback on the exfoliator’s effects on skin hydration, suppleness, and smoothness as well as whether it left a good aftertaste.

The greatest body scrubs for exfoliating your limbs to achieve extremely soft skin status are highlighted in the ELLE Lab edit below.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Glycolic – Exfoliating Body Lotion

With tartaric, lactic, citric (thus TLC), and glycolic acid, Drunk Elephant’s strong power combination, rough, drab-looking skin is sent packing. After applying this lotion, each of our testers reported that their skin felt nourished and considerably softer. The entire panel also praised the lotion’s smoothness. Simply sit, soak, and touch your softer skin in the morning without buffing. Despite some complaints, the formulation is more tolerant to sensitive skin thanks to the absence of aroma.

Body Scrubs: Mirror Water Buff Body Exfoliator

Forget about traditional scrubs that include unsanitary microplastic beads or harsh roughage. This creamy, delicate, and mouth watering delicious-looking Body Buff from beauty guru Estee Lalonde is the perfect addition to your bath. This is the time to light your favorite candle and place a good book on your wooden bath tray.

More than the appearance and texture, however, our testers praised the product’s fine grains and oil-based recipe, which they said were “just the right consistency to exfoliate without being too harsh on the skin barrier.” The fine grains in question were refining salts and shea nutshell powder. It earned scores for creating a decadent, opulent massage experience. It’s time to take a bath.

Body Scrubs: Sol de Janeiro Bom Dia Bright Body Cream

Without praising the cult status of the Sol De Janeiro aroma, we can’t discuss this scrub. If buffing away in your bathroom is all you have the time (or money) for, this scrub is the next best thing. This complete line of body care products was created to transport you to a tropical paradise.

It is fortified with a 10% AHA BHA resurfacing compound that includes glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acid to exfoliate dead skin and clear pores, as well as crushed maracuja seeds to gently peel off dirt and debris. The texture and scent (naturally occurring) won over our panel, who also noted that the beads took longer to dissolve than those in other scrubs, offering a pleasurable scrub without causing skin irritation. Every single tester praised the aroma, and almost everyone concurred that their skin felt smoother and more hydrated after a thorough rinse.

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Body Spot Exfoliant

Body acne sufferers will adore this specially formulated Paula’s Choice bumpiness buster, which uses the exfoliating properties of salicylic acid to clear pores and lactic acid to cleanse and brighten the surface. Additionally, there is a version that helps cleanse pores for your face.

The sink-into-skin texture and leave-on instructions were commended by our panel as being perfect for the time-pressed panelists and leaving no sticky residue. After the trial time, the product left rough skin feeling soft and smooth, with fewer blemishes and scarring. Additionally, test subjects noted firmer skin and more even skin tone.

Body Scrubs: Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish

This formula’s greasy foundation caused a lot of controversy. This formula contains a lot of oil and more than a teaspoon of sugar. Whether our panel liked it or didn’t. The brand truly lives up to its name. Since the ingredients have an incredibly earthy, fresh feel and are naturally perfumed with lemongrass and ginger. Even after washing, the nourishing oil it left behind impressed those with extremely dry skin, but some people thought the consistency was overly gloopy and gritty.

CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream

This cream is a hero for sensitive skin because it is incredibly moisturizing, spreadable, and odorless. CeraVe uses formulations that are backed by science and are devoid of irritants, like many other French drugstore products.

Our test subjects reported that it was intensely moisturizing while also resurfacing. And that skin seemed notably smoother and firmer after a few days. All panel members agreed that their skin felt smoother without experiencing any negative effects. And by the end of the trial, it had won everyone over with its delicate formula. However, some people complained. That the directions for how and when to use the product in geometry dash were a little unclear.

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