Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Devanshi Singh (Beauty Expert) on 12th Mar 2021

Body Scrub Vs. Exfoliation: What's the difference?

 Body Scrub or Exfoliation

Taking proper and good care of our body is imperative in today's scenario. Exfoliating and scrubbing can help you immensely. All those who are not involved and do not know about skincare routines, think body scrubs and exfoliators are the same. If you also think along these lines, we'll have to correct you! You might not know this, but they are not the same thing.

Now, if you are wondering what's the difference between the two, we'll clear it up for you.

Without wasting much time, scroll down to know more about scrubbing, exfoliating, different ways to scrub and exfoliate, and the major difference between a scrub and an exfoliator.  

What is a body scrub? 

If you are a skincare enthusiast, then you must have seen your favorite influencers or, as we call them today, beauty gurus, use a creamy substance containing small granules to get rid of dry and dead skin cells.

That granulated cream-based skincare product is known as a scrub.

When you massage your skin with a gentle scrub, the tiny particles in the scrub help to soothe your skin as it eliminates dead cells.

If you do not use scrubs, it might be difficult to get rid of the dead, dry cells from your skin. Due to this reason, a scrub is an essential part of the basic 'cleanse, tone, and moisturize' skincare routine. 

Benefits of using a scrub 

As discussed above, a scrub is a crucial part of your skincare routine. It is because it offers us many benefits, as discussed below. 

  • As per research, a scrub helps thoroughly cleanse the skin. 
  • Using a scrub helps eliminate the stubborn dry and dead cells from your body. 
  • A scrub even removes blackheads from your skin. 
  • It activates microcirculation, which in turn helps in toning your face and skin. 
  • Using a scrub also helps soothe and hydrate your skin. 
  • The scent in the scrub alleviates your mood. 
  • Using a scrub helps boost the blood circulating in your body and face, draining the lymph nodes. 

How to choose the right body scrub? 

Whenever you go out looking for a perfect body and face scrub for yourselves, do not just buy anything. Do some proper reading before buying any product. Read the reviews, consult your dermatologist (if you have one), and don't forget to run your eyes over the ingredient list.

Also, do not forget that there is a different scrub formula for every different skin type. That is why not all scrubs will suit you. 

Hence, to know if you are buying the perfect body scrub, keep in mind the following things. 

  • Not all of us scrub our bodies regularly. Some of us do it 1-2 times a week, and some prefer to use it daily. So if you are a person who intends to scrub your body daily, choose a scrub that has fine tiny granules. Such a scrub will not be harsh on your skin upon regular use. 
  • In case you have body acne, we will advise you to buy a scrub that has active ingredients (like salicylic acid or glycolic acid) in it, 
  • Moreover, if you have very dry skin, you should buy a scrub containing essential oils and even cream-based scrubs. 
  • If you have oily skin, grab yourself a scrub with natural ingredients like oatmeal and papaya. 

How to use a body scrub? 

Below is an easy yet detailed guide on how to use body scrubs! 

  • Apply a considerable amount of product on your damp skin. 
  • Massage the product over your skin in circular motions for about a minute or two. 
  • Wash off the skin and gently pat dry. 
  • Never forget to moisturize yourself after scrubbing. 

Things to keep in mind before using body scrubs 

  • If you have healthy and plump skin, you can use the shower scrub 2-3 times a week. 
  • In case you are a person with sensitive or, as we usually say, thin skin, you must limit the use of body scrub to only once a week. 
  • Over scrubbing is totally off the tables. Do not scrub yourself aggressively, like you might scrub the floor. 

What is an exfoliator? 

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To simplify it, exfoliators are just skincare products. It would be easier to refer to them as tools, which help in exfoliating your skin.

If you wonder what exfoliating is, then do not worry. We are here to tell you everything.

The procedure of removing the skin's outermost layer, which can also be referred to as the layer of dead skin cells for the sole purpose of cleaning pores clogged by impurities, is known as exfoliating. 

What does an exfoliator do? 

An exfoliator unclogs your pores, which have impurities, and helps you eliminate the dead skin cell layer on your skin.

It smoothes out your skin and promotes the regrowth of the cells, or in short, you can say cell revival.

It can even fade out or lighten your acne scars and even help with your skin's texture.

To be concise, there are two types of exfoliators for your skin. 

The physical ones and the chemical ones. 

Physical Exfoliators: The exfoliators which use friction to clean your skin are called physical exfoliators. Such exfoliators have tiny granules. These granules help in polishing your skin when rubbed against them. However, the loofahs, pumice stone, body brushes, and other physical exfoliating tools fall in this category.

Chemical Exfoliators: The exfoliators which use chemicals for exfoliation are called this. These exfoliators contain chemicals such as hydroxy acids and retinol that enable you to renew your skin cells.

Chemical exfoliators are basically of two types, AHA (alpha hydroxy acid - water-soluble) and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid - oil soluble)

AHA exfoliators  

  • They have water-soluble acids. 
  • These are usually obtained from sugary fruits. 
  • They peel away the outermost layer of your skin and give you a more evenly pigmented skin texture.
  • Such exfoliators typically contain acids like citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, and much more. 

BHA exfoliators 

  • They have oil-soluble acids. 
  • Such exfoliators can go deep into the hair follicle and dry out your excess oil while they unclog your pores.  
  • They are perfect for oily and acne-prone skin. 

Difference between scrubs and exfoliators 

As discussed above, scrubs are cream-based products for your skin. On the other hand, while talking about exfoliators, we came across the fact that they can be physical and chemical. Thus, this is a major point of difference.

In short, scrubs are just physical exfoliating agents, while on the other hand, exfoliators include a wide range, including physical and chemical components. 

Why do people often think that scrub and exfoliators are the same? 

There are mainly two main reasons behind the common idea that most people have, i.e., both scrub and exfoliator are the same.

Firstly, both scrub and exfoliator serve the same purpose: removing dead skin cells from our skin.

Secondly, both of them leave behind a similar impact on your skin. Both smoothen out your skin, give you a glow, unclog your pores, and help you with your skin texture.