Education, Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

How to Exfoliate every part of your Body

Yo, you need this.

words by: Adam Hurly
Sep 13, 2022

You already know that exfoliation is part of a baseline skincare regimen. (Well, we hope you already knew it before reading that sentence. But if not, now you know!) This process lifts away or dissolves dead skin cells, depending on whether you use a physical scrub or a chemical exfoliant.


And in ridding of these dead cells, exfoliation keeps your younger, healthy, “brighter” cells at the surface of the skin. The result is smoother, softer, and yes, “brighter” complexion all around. Exfoliation prevents pores from getting clogged with dead cells, too, and it helps expedite the “turnover” of cells, which occurs roughly once a month on its own. By making way for these youthful cells, you can quickly rid of dark marks and hyperpigmentation.


Exfoliation, as it turns out, is great for the entire body, not just your face. Yeah, we all want to put our best face forward, but it also feels incredible to have smooth skin from head to toe. You’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin, and it might even feel like you’re walking on pillows for the first time in years.


However, the exfoliation that works above your neck isn’t necessarily the same as every other part of your body. So, if you’ll allow us, here are our recommendations for full body exfoliation—from both the means we endorse, as well as a top-tier, skin-smoothing product that fits the bill.


In general, exfoliation should be done once or twice per week, depending on the intensity of the product. (Use as directed by the brand, and adjust accordingly.) In severe cases (like with peels), once per month is the maximum usage. Again, use as directed, but remember: If you over-exfoliate, you will only irritate the lively, youthful skin, since there isn’t yet any need to buff it away, nor is there a fresh layer of skin under there ready to show itself off. So take it easy; start conservatively and work your way up as it feels right.


Scalp exfoliation

Exfoliating the scalp can keep the scalp “balanced” by removing dead skin that might otherwise grow susceptible to fungus and dandruff. It stimulates the scalp too, which boosts circulation and nutrient delivery to the follicles, in turn, fortifying hair growth. A well-buffed scalp will create an ideal growth environment for the hairs themselves.


We love shampoos that incorporate exfoliation into the fold. They’re typically gentle enough to be used 2-3 times a week, which is also the frequency with which you should be shampooing anyway.


Buy our pick, British M Regenall sea salt shampoo, here


Photo via Walmart


Facial exfoliation

While a gentle scrub helps lift skin away from your face, we think this is the best time to deploy a chemical exfoliant to ensure the most even-keeled and clear complexion (free of any clogged pores). So, prioritize salicylic acid, especially if you’re acne-prone, as well as lactic or glycolic acid. Start light and measure the results after a couple months.


Buy our pick, Herbivore Botanicals exfoliating serum, here



Photo via Herbivore Botanicals


Back exfoliation

It’s hard to wash your own back, and thus, it’s hard to exfoliating your own backside, too. For this, get a behind-the-back shower brush. Use it to both clean and scrub-a-dub-dub every day.


Buy our pick, Metene bamboo body brush, here


Photo via Amazon


Armpit exfoliation

As strange as it might seem (and as ticklish), armpit scrubs and chemical exfoliants can help reduce odor under there. Depending on their ingredients, they can also neutralize the bad bacteria that produce the odorous stench. We don’t have a preference between physical and chemical exfoliants here, so long as they get the task done.


Buy our pick, Carpe clinical grade underarm exfoliant, here


Photo via Amazon


Chest, Arm, and Shoulder exfoliation

With such a large surface area, it’s best to use a physical body scrub or even a body brush/gritty cloth on these parts of your body. Regular use (twice weekly for scrubs, or daily for brushes/cloths) will ensure that your skin always stays soft and smooth.  It’ll absorb body lotion all the better, too.


Buy our pick, Biossance body scrub, here


Photo via Biossance


Hand exfoliation

While a physical hand scrub is easy to come by (and quite effective, too!), we’re big proponents of the weekly hand mask, which will further slough away any rough patches of skin, ensuring your mitts never endure calluses, dangling hangnails, and the likes. (Many of them contain exfoliating ingredients like urea.)


Buy our pick, MEDIHEAL exfoliating hand mask, here


hand exfoliant

Photo via Amazon


Cracked heels

There is a special tool for cracked heels—and for big calluses, too. It’s an electric callus grinder, and will polish your giant patches of dry skin like sandpaper on rough wood. So, don’t overdo it, but do watch in amazement as the tool buffs your callus and dry cracked heels into a powder.


Buy our pick, PRITECH electric callus grinder, here


foot callus

Photo via Amazon


Leg and Ankle exfoliation

Mid-shower, once a week, sit yourself on the tub ledge (water off), and buff away at your legs and ankles (and even the heels) with a truly gritty scrub. There is so much dead skin accumulated here, especially at and around the ankle. It’s best followed with a cooling and tingling peppermint-powered lotion—your feet will feel like they’re singing praises of gratitude.


Buy our pick, Palmer’s Foot Scrub, here


Photo via Walmart



Foot exfoliation

In addition to your callus grinder and ankle + leg scrub, you should have a foot peel at the ready every time things get a little too out of control, and when you want a hard reset. It’ll be an awkward week or two as the dead skin falls away, but it’s easily navigated by wearing socks to bed and throughout the day.


Secondly, you should also regularly apply an exfoliation cream before bed, particularly at the first sign of cracking and roughness.


Buy our picks, Baby Foot Peel exfoliation mask, and Pedestrian Project foot cream.


Photo via Pedestrian Project


Want to get to the bottom of what we mean when we say physical vs. chemical exfoliant? Also, here’s how long skincare products actually take to work.


Photo via Healthline