Body Scrubs

By Rima Suqi / September 7, 2011

I do love to exfoliate, regardless of the season. It’s probably the one beauty category I get most excited about. I’ve never met body scrubs that I didn’t like, although I do have my preferences. While many of those preferences changed in the course of this test drive, in the beginning they included the following: a tube wins over a tub, plastic container over glass, and salt as a main ingredient over sugar. Then I came across bamboo, used some delicious sugar scrubs, and my salt preference was stripped away. Read on to find out what other preferences were scrubbed out.


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1. Malin + Goetz Peppermint Body Scrub

This is where I met bamboo, and I liked it. As the ever-eloquent Andrew Goetz put it, “Bamboo is an emollient, it’s hydrating and brings moisture.” I had no idea but I am now a convert. This scrub also has a shower gel base, so it has the added bonus of acting as a cleanser. It also has a very natural peppermint smell. Win-win. $30,

2. Yu-Be Foaming Skin Polish

If I could only choose one product to regularly use from all those tested, this would be it. It’s bamboo-based with added rice bran, and when they say “foaming” they’re not kidding. The manufacturer claims you can also use it on your face, but I don’t agree as it seems harsh for that. I loved the cleanser/scrub combo, the packaging (a flip top cap for one-handed operation), and the price. $18,

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3. She Essential Beauty Sugar Scrub: Lemongrass-Mint

I’m usually a big a fan of this brand but unfortunately the scrub and I were not a good match. One word: ouch. It was coarse and dry with very little oil to help smooth out the experience. However, it does release a gorgeous lemongrass scent that is, as the label promises, awakening.$35,

4. Ole Henriksen African Red Tea Exotic Body Scrub

Prior to using this product I would never think of buying a sugar scrub. I was a salt girl. But this stuff is so smooth, easy to scoop out of the jar, and a bit oily, which turned out to be a good thing. Just enough of the oil remained on my skin after toweling off, leaving it smelling great and feeling moist and smooth. The scent might be too girly for guys, but it’s fabulous even if it comes in a tub. It’s not cheap, but you get a lot of scrub for the money. $65,


5. BeanStock Green Tea and Lemongrass Brown Sugar Body Polish

I love testing a new brand and found this Canadian-based company in the basement of the New York Gift Show. I walked out with a big jar of their body polish, and that was problem number one: it’s packaged in a heavy glass jar with a dainty white spoon. I am not a fan of glass in the bathroom unless it’s a sink or a fabulous Italian mosaic tile. Second, it has the texture and smell of brown sugar. The label says lemongrass and green tea and I’m sure it’s in there—somewhere. Performance-wise it was gentle and had just the right amount of oil. If you love brown sugar, this is the scrub for you. One thing: make sure the jar is tightly sealed or the scrub will get dry and hard. $20,

6. Thymes Essentials Body Scrub

Another product to make me a tub and sugar convert. This one was just plain yummy. It’s made of sugar crystals and plenty of sunflower oil (and a unisex-appropriate scent that’s a mixture of tangerine, orange, lemon, grapefruit, and a touch of musk). Because it is oilier than the others tested, it seemed gentler on my sensitive skin. I could see using it every day (although that’s not necessarily recommended). Truth be told, for about a week, I did. $32,


7. H20 Sea Pure 100% Natural Reviving Body Buffer

This is a gentle sea salt scrub that has a lovely light lavender scent and just enough oil to leave your skin super smooth afterwards. While I don’t love digging my hand in a tub (and this one was sometimes hard to dig out, probably needs a bit more oil) the work was worth it. $27,

8. The Body Deli Botanical Butter Scrub, Yuzu Twist

Warning: If you leave this tub in the wrong room (the kitchen) and come across it at night when you’re foraging for a snack, you will end up eating what’s inside. The same goes for their facial scrub. This stuff smells like a piña colada, and I mean that in a good way. While the scent isn’t really unisex, as salt scrubs go, this one was gentle, not too oily, and priced really well. It could be addictive. $28,


They’re a whole other world. Jurgen Klein, owner of The Sullivan Estate and product line JK7, once told me that after using a traditional exfoliant my facial skin looked like “an ice rink after a hockey game.” Ouch. Problem is, I like a traditional facial exfoliant, one that feels like fine grain sandpaper. The other mushier ones feel like they aren’t “doing” anything. But Klein, and a host of others, assured me that they do the job just as well—and I did find several I liked.


1. Voya Love a Scrub

I discovered this product line at the spa at the St. Regis Princeville in Kauai, and I do love the scrub. It’s made with 70 percent certified organic ingredients, is gentle enough to use several times a week and, despite being a seaweed-based product, has little or no scent, making it great for guys as well. Added bonus: The tube is made from post-consumer recycled plastic. $36,

2. Zia Natural Skincare Bamboo Exfoliant with Rice Bran

I had to ask if this was a body or face exfoliant since it didn’t specify on the package. This product is very grainy and feels more like a body scrub— which is exactly how I use it. I do love the package design, though, and that the bottle was created with 50 percent post-consumer waste. $24.95,

3. Alba Botanica Sea Algae Enzyme Facial Scrub

I have to admit at the onset that I am a sucker for the scent of Alba’s Sea Algae Enzyme line in general. Their facial moisturizer with SPF was a favorite, until I realized it contained oxybenzone. I still miss it. This scrub has that same fresh citrus scent plus gentle granules of cornmeal that were easy on my skin. And let’s face it, at $9.95 for four ounces, the price can’t be beat. $9.95,


4. Avalon Organics Exfoliating Enzyme Scrub

This was the grainiest facial scrub of the bunch. After using some of the gentler ones, this felt more sandpaper-y. The old me would’ve loved this, the new me isn’t so sure. I like the scent and the ingredient list (which includes walnut and grape seed powder, fruit enzymes, and arnica). But my skin seemed to respond better to other products. If your skin is not sensitive, I’m sure this scrub will be absolutely fine and, for the price, it’s definitely worth a try. $16.95,

5. JK7 Vanilla Bean Facial Scrub

This is about as fresh as any product is going to get, made on-property at Jurgen Klein’s Sullivan Estate, hence the price tag. It’s also one of those exfoliants that doesn’t feel grainy, so you might wonder if it’s “working.” It is. If you can get over the fact you need to dig it out with a small spatula (provided), that it looks a bit like used coffee grounds, and the couture price tag, it’s a good bet. Especially for sensitive skin. $75,

6. Arcona Golden Grain Gommage

This exfoliant came highly recommended by my facialist at Soho Sanctuary in New York City. The key ingredients are cornmeal and oatmeal, two things I do not enjoy eating but make a gorgeous gentle scrub that you can use up to four times a week. Fruit enzymes do the heavy lifting. Great news all around for a scrub-a-holic like myself. $42,

Rima Suqi
Rima Suqi

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