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What to Apply First: Body Scrub or Body Wash? Experts Weigh In

By Avi Green June 20, 2024

Your daily shower ritual might seem simple, but have you ever stopped to ponder what to apply first: body scrub or body wash? This age-old question has skincare enthusiasts and beauty pros scratching their heads. Getting the order right can make a noticeable difference in achieving that healthy, radiant glow we all crave. Plus, for eco-conscious folks, choosing sustainable products is a big part of the equation.

In this comprehensive guide, well break down the science behind body scrubs and body washes, explore the benefits of each, and offer expert tips and techniques. Lets settle the debate on whether you should use a body scrub or body wash first.

Understanding the Basics: What Are Body Scrubs and Body Washes?

Before we dive into the specifics of which comes first, let's get a clear understanding of what body scrubs and body washes are designed to do.

What is a Body Scrub?

A body scrub is a skincare product packed with exfoliating particles meant to buff away dead skin cells. These particles can range from salt and sugar to eco-friendly options like crushed walnut shells or coffee grounds. They often contain hydrating oils and essential oils to soothe the skin and provide a refreshing aroma.

What is a Body Wash?

A body wash is a liquid soap designed to cleanse your skin by removing dirt, oils, and other impurities. Body washes come in various formulations, such as moisturizing, antibacterial, and hypoallergenic, catering to different skin needs. Some eco-friendly body washes are even made from biodegradable ingredients, ensuring youre caring for both your skin and the environment.

what to apply first body scrub or body wash

The Debate: Scrub First or Wash First?

The question of whether to use a body scrub or body wash first has led to endless debates. Advocates exist for both methods, each citing valid reasons. Let's weigh the arguments for each approach.

Applying Body Scrub First

Fans of applying a body scrub first argue that exfoliating before cleansing makes it easier for the body wash to penetrate the skin more effectively. Heres why this method has its supporters:

  • Deep Cleansing: Exfoliating first removes dead skin cells and surface impurities, allowing the body wash to cleanse more deeply.
  • Smoother Skin: Removing dead skin cells first can create a smoother skin surface, enhancing the effectiveness of your body wash.
  • Improved Hydration: Exfoliating before washing can help your skin better absorb the hydrating ingredients in your body wash.

Applying Body Wash First

On the flip side, some experts believe using a body wash first preps the skin for exfoliation. Here are the reasons you might want to wash before you scrub:

  • Gentle Cleansing: Cleansing first removes surface dirt and oils, making exfoliation gentler.
  • Effective Exfoliation: Using a body wash first softens the skin, making it more receptive to the scrubs exfoliating particles.
  • Balanced Skin: Cleansing before scrubbing helps maintain the skin's natural pH balance, reducing irritation risk.

Expert Recommendations and Best Practices

There isnt a one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should scrub or wash first. Heres how you can find the best routine for your skin type and preferences:

Consult a Dermatologist

Before making any significant changes to your skincare routine, consult with a dermatologist. They can offer personalized advice based on your skin type and condition. Dermatologists can help you decide whether to use a body scrub or body wash first and recommend suitable products.

Consider Your Skin Type

Your skin type significantly influences the order of application. Heres a quick guide:

  • Oily Skin: If you have oily skin, exfoliating first can remove excess oil and impurities, making the body wash more effective.
  • Dry Skin: If your skin is dry, using a body wash first can help hydrate and soften the skin before exfoliation.
  • Sensitive Skin: For sensitive skin, a gentle body wash followed by a mild scrub can minimize irritation risk.

Trial and Error

Finding the perfect skincare routine often involves some trial and error. Experiment with different approaches and observe how your skin responds. Adjust your routine based on these findings.

Eco-Conscious Skincare: Making Sustainable Choices

Eco-conscious shoppers consider both the ingredients and environmental impact of skincare products. Here are tips for making sustainable choices:

Choose Eco-Friendly Products

Select body scrubs and washes made from natural, biodegradable ingredients. Avoid products with microbeads and synthetic fragrances, which can harm marine life and pollute the environment. Opt for scrubs with sustainable exfoliants like sugar, salt, or coffee grounds and washes with plant-based cleansers.

Explore Scrubber Oil to learn more about eco-friendly options.

Reduce Packaging Waste

Choose products with minimal, recyclable, or biodegradable packaging. Some brands offer refills or bulk options to cut down on packaging waste.

Read more about reducing waste with Moisturizing Body Wash.

Support Ethical Brands

Research brands that prioritize sustainability, cruelty-free practices, and ethical sourcing. Supporting these companies can drive positive change in the beauty industry.

For further insights on creating an eco-friendly skincare routine, check out this comprehensive guide on healthy shower habits from Healthline.

Final Thoughts: Personalizing Your Routine

Ultimately, the choice of what to apply first: body scrub or body wash depends on your personal preference and your skin's unique needs. By understanding the benefits of each approach, consulting with experts, and considering sustainability, you can craft a skincare routine that leaves your skin feeling healthy and glowing.

Remember, theres no definitive answer. The key is to listen to your skin, make informed choices, and enjoy taking care of yourself in an eco-friendly manner. Happy scrubbing and washing!


  1. What is the main purpose of a body scrub?

    A body scrub exfoliates the skin by removing dead skin cells, promoting smoother and healthier skin. It often contains hydrating oils and fragrances to enhance the experience.

  2. Can I use a body scrub and body wash every day?

    While body washes can be used daily, body scrubs should be used 2-3 times a week to avoid over-exfoliating and irritating the skin.

  3. Are there eco-friendly body scrubs and body washes available?

    Yes, many brands offer eco-friendly body scrubs and washes made from natural, biodegradable ingredients. Look for products free from microbeads and synthetic fragrances.

For more insights on skincare routines and sustainable beauty products, check out this comprehensive resource from the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.

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