You need to know your body scrubs because exfoliating is one of the most important things you do for your skin. Using a body scrub simultaneously removes dead skin cells, cleanses skin and increases the body's blood circulation.
If you choose the right body scrub it can also leave your skin smooth, moisturized and refreshed. However, using the wrong scrub can be extremely damaging to sensitive skin.
So how do you choose between the wrong and right exfoliator? Well, it comes down to many factors: your skin type, your personal preferences, the ingredients in the product - specifically what is being used as the abrasivity factor and what is being used as a base.
The abrasivity factors can range from plastic-based micro-beads (really not an environmentally friendly option!) to naturally abrasive ingredients like sugar, salt or even coffee. So, which should you choose?
Micro-beads: As mentioned these tiny, micro-sized balls of plastic are really bad for the earth. They can cause plastic particle water pollution and have been banned from being added wash-off cosmetics in many countries. They are a hazard to aquatic life and for the environmental facts alone, I would not recommend their use. In terms of effectiveness as an exfoliator, they do scrub away flaky dead skin cells but they can be quite harsh. Unlike many natural exfoliators, they don’t break down as they scrub so they be very rough on the skin. Basically, there are far better natural alternatives to micro-beads that will not damage the environment and will leave your skin smooth and pampered.
Sugar: Sugar can be a great exfoliator. It is a source of glycolic acid which is said to break down dead skin cells. Sugar is also a natural humectant. This means that it retains moisture in order to help keep skin hydrated whilst scrubbing away those built-up dead skin cells. Sugars melt away when in contact with water, making them a gentle scrubbing option. The downside of this is that if you plan to exfoliate in the shower you really need to stop the water running to use a sugar scrub otherwise it will just turn to liquid. Some people find the combination of how fine the sugar granules are with its quickness to dissolve a little too mellow and prefer something more intense.
Salt: Salt can be a great natural exfoliator as it is packed with minerals. It is generally a little coarser than sugar and it doesn’t dissolve so easily. It still does dissolve in contact with water, but if you don’t have time to turn off the shower in the middle to exfoliate, you can use a salt based exfoliator under running water without it turning to mush. The effects of a salt scrub can vary greatly based on the source of the salt. Some of the more popular salt choices are Himalayan Pink Salt, Sea Salt, and Dead Sea Salt. Different salts have different characteristics such as color, taste, scent, texture and most importantly for a body scrub, different mineral components. Himalayan Pink Salt is said to contain 84 trace minerals whilst Dead Sea Salt (also very high in minerals) has been known to cure multiple skin conditions. The salt baths along the Dead Sea are known as a therapeutic healing spot and people travel across the world to bathe in them.
Coffee: Coffee not only brings many back to life each morning, but it can also give your skin new life. The caffeine content is said to boost circulation and blood flow, making it perfect for bumpy and uneven skin. A healthy scrub of coffee can even diminish the appearance of cellulite. It is also very gentle on the skin so is often mixed with another gently abrasive element to up its scrub factor.
Stay tuned for part 2 where we will discuss different bases that will work with these abrasive elements to leave your skin smooth, cleansed and free of any lingering, flaky, dead skin cells.