Even those with the most devoted skincare routines are sometimes guilty of focusing all their efforts on the face and leaving everything else high and dry. Of course, there’s a lot more skin to cover below the neck, and it might have slightly different needs than your cheeks, chin, and forehead. Still, a good exfoliator is a great place to start.
According to board-certified dermatologist Lian A. Mack, MD, there are many benefits to full-body exfoliation. “It promotes cellular turnover, which leaves the skin looking smoother and more radiant,” she tells Byrdie. Additionally, she says it can increase blood flow to the epidermis (aka the outermost layer of your skin) so “it looks healthier and more supple.”
From scrubs, washes, and wipes to creams, lotions, and serums, whole-body exfoliating products come in a range of formulations. To help you narrow it down, we compiled standout options in every category.
Scroll down for the best body exfoliators.
Best Overall: Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator
Who else recommends it? PureWow, Self, and Elle all chose Nécessaire’s The Body Exfoliator.
What do buyers say? 500+ Nordstrom reviewers rated this product 4.7 stars or above.
Combining the physical exfoliating benefits of granular charcoal with AHA and BHA superheroes glycolic and salicylic acid, The Body Exfoliator offers the best of both worlds. It comes in two spa-inspired scents, eucalyptus and sandalwood, but there’s also a fragrance-free option for those who like to keep it simple.
This hybrid shower scrub is exceptionally luxurious and all-around enjoyable to use. Like all Nécessaire products, you get a feel for the quality just by holding the tube in your hand and twisting off the heavy cap. It’s on the pricier side, but considering you only need to use it once or twice a week, it should last you a while.
Type: Scrub | Active Ingredients: Bamboo charcoal, glycolic acid, salicylic acid | Size: 6.1 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Budget: Urban Hydration Brighten & Glow Peach & Papaya Body Wash
Since body products cover a lot more area than facial skincare, affordability is ideal. This body wash from Urban Hydration will only run you a few bucks, and you can count on noticeably smoother, more even-toned skin in a single use.
Type: Wash | Active Ingredients: Papaya enzymes | Size: 13.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Drugstore: CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
When it comes to drugstore skincare, CeraVe is pretty much always reliable. This no-nonsense cream sloughs off dead cells with lactic acid and salicylic acid and replenishes the skin barrier with ceramides.4
Type: Cream | Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, salicylic acid | Size: 12 or 16 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Splurge: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment Peel
These are the beloved Alpha Beta peel pads from Dr. Dennis Gross—but for your body. These pre-soaked, disposable towelettes contain AHAs glycolic and lactic acid, plus salicylic acid and fruit enzymes, to increase cell turnover, smooth uneven texture, and deliver an all-around healthy glow.5 They’re expensive, but believe us, they work.
Type: Pre-soaked disposable wipes | Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, fruit enzymes | Size: 8 towels | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Clean: REN AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum
Prefer clean formulas? This exfoliating serum is for you. Smart Renewal contains a naturally-derived, dairy-free version of lactic acid to help your skin shed its outermost layer of dead cells, while probiotics offer a visibly smoother texture.
Type: Serum | Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, probiotics | Size: 6.8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Some By Mi AHA-BHA-PHA Real Cica 92% Cool Calming Soothing Gel
We also like this Korean exfoliating gel, which you apply like a serum to dry skin. It contains lactobionic acid (a super gentle polyhydroxy acid or PHA), plus salicylic acid¹ and tea tree extract, to smooth uneven texture and keep body acne at bay.7 Its hero ingredient, cica, helps calm irritation and heal breakouts.8
Type: Gel | Active Ingredients: Lactobionic acid, salicylic acid, cica, tea tree extract | Size: 10.1 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Sensitive Skin: Mario Badescu A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap
Exfoliating sensitive skin can be a tricky dance, but with Mario Badescu, you’re in good hands. This budget-friendly body wash contains glycolic acid¹ and fruit enzymes to gently dissolve dead skin cells. To avoid irritation, start by using only once or twice a week.
Type: Wash | Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, fruit enzymes | Size: 8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Keratosis Pilaris: Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion
This body lotion contains a concentrated dose of glycolic acid. Formulated for folks with keratosis pilaris in mind, it promises to smooth out bumps and dry patches without compromising the skin barrier.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid | Size: 8.4 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Ingrown Hairs: Soft Services Smoothing Solution Calming Gel Exfoliant
If you’re looking for something to address ingrown hairs, Soft Services is your best bet. This serum-style body treatment combines lactic acid with urea to gently dissolve dead skin buildup and ultimately prevent little bumps from forming. It’s also great for keratosis pilaris and discoloration around the elbow and knees.
Type: Serum | Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, urea | Size: 5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Lotion: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Glycolic Body Lotion
After trying out this exfoliating body lotion, our home tester said her skin was as slippery-smooth as a dolphin. If that doesn’t convince you to buy it, how about the fact that it’s substantially more affordable than most other products in the Drunk Elephant lineup? And since you don’t need to use it every day, the bottle will last you.
Type: Lotion | Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, tartaric acid | Size: 8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Wash: Truly CBD Jelly Anti-Blemish Body Cleanser
This shower wash is formulated to clear and prevent body acne. But no matter what you’re trying to achieve through exfoliation, you can count on it to get the job done—the pretty green pump bottle doesn’t hurt either.
Type: Wash | Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, retinyl palmitate | Size: 8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Scrub: Gilded Brightening Body Polish
While granular formulas are often too coarse for the face, they can be a great physical exfoliant for the body. This premium scrub calls on sea salt to gently polish and stimulate the skin, then moisturizes with a blend of plant oils.
Type: Scrub | Active Ingredients: Sea salt | Size: 6 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Polish: Monat Body Care Exfoliate & Refine Body Polish
“An invigorating, revitalizing scrub featuring volcanic pumice and superfruit antioxidants, this gel exfoliator gently removes dead skin cells and smooths rough patches, revealing softer, more radiant skin,” says Dr. Mack.
Type: Scrub | Active Ingredients: Volcanic pumice, superfruit antioxidants, jojoba oil | Size: 6.7 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Bar: Glossier Body Hero Exfoliating Bar
Glossier makes our favorite body exfoliating bar. It offers physical exfoliation through finely milled bamboo powder and replenishes your skin with plant oils so it doesn’t feel overly dry or stripped.
Type: Bar | Active Ingredients: Bamboo powder | Size: 5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Our top choice is Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator, a luxurious formula that combines charcoal powder with AHA and BHA to offer a hybrid approach to smoother skin. On a budget? Urban Hydration Brighten & Glow Body Wash is a solid choice.
What to Look For in a Body Exfoliator
When choosing what type of exfoliant to use, it’s important to consider your needs, preferences, and, most importantly, your skin type. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach is an all-around fan of chemical formulas that include AHAs and BHAs, mentioning that in addition to offering gentle exfoliation, they may also help boost collagen production and help with any pigmentation issues you may be dealing with. Additionally, she says that hydroxy acid-based formulas are safer for those with sensitive skin and that there’s less of a chance of stripping the epidermis when using them.
Want to up your exfoliating power? Reach for a product that contains a mix of both chemical and physical exfoliants to get the best of both worlds. Physical exfoliants can also be great options for many skin types. Dr. Rabach suggests looking for a formula that includes sugar, salt, or sand as its exfoliating mechanism—the gentler, the better. “Mechanical exfoliants are best for refreshing dry or flaking skin on the body,” she says.
Of course, whether you choose a chemical exfoliator or decide to go the physical route, Dr. Rabach stresses the importance of choosing a formula that also has a moisturizing component to it. This way, the skin will be left plump and not overly dry. Your body will thank you.
What happens if you never exfoliate?
Many get by without an exfoliating routine, but your skin will thank you if you have one. Not exfoliating can lead to a buildup of dead skin, which lead to a duller-looking complexion and an increase in the appearance of wrinkles—which, yes, happen in areas outside of your face, too.
Is it OK to exfoliate every day?
Exfoliating is an excellent addition to your body care routine, but it does not need to be performed on a daily basis. Experts say you should exfoliate two to three times per week.
Should I exfoliate in the morning or night?
Your routine is up to you, but experts suggest exfoliating in the morning. That’s because “the skin repairs itself at night, leaving a layer of dead skin cells just begging to be sloughed off.”