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The 10 Very Best Salt Scrubs, According to Cool People

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While scented sprays and targeted serums have made body care cool, salt scrubs are still a mainstay for those seeking soft, smooth arms and legs. That’s because they’re supereffective — they use a gritty texture to manually buff dead cells off the surface of your skin that could otherwise pile up, contributing to a dull appearance or even body breakouts. Plus, they can help with “improving circulation, detoxing due to the minerals, and possibly improving tone and texture, depending on the other ingredients included in the scrub,” says Sheila Farhang, a dermatologist in Tucson, Arizona.

What’s more, in sloughing off that debris, salt scrubs allow your post-shower lotion to better absorb into the skin, which is why many of them are already infused with nourishing oils for an initial moisture boost. With that in mind, we sought out beauty writers, dermatologists, and industry founders to find out what their favorite salt scrubs are.

This body scrub is a reviewer favorite — five stars at Nordstrom and Ulta — and it was also recommended by four cool people we spoke with. “I love when you really feel like you slough off dry skin,” says Annie Jackson, founder of Credo Beauty. “This one is loaded with salt grains, and my skin feels brand-new and so smooth after. It also hydrates without feeling oily. My skin feels soft and velvety, not slippery.” Jessica Matlin, director of beauty at Moda Operandi and cofounder of the podcast Fat Mascara, reaches for it whenever she has a moment to herself. “It’s enriched with shea butter so it actually adds moisture while sloughing off dead cells,” she says. “I skip body moisturizer after — it’s that hydrating. Also, you don’t need to use a lot, which is nice considering the price.”

The formula, which features three types of salt sourced from New Zealand, the Himalayas, and Hawaii, also has a fan in Dr. Farhang. “This particular brand is free of a lot of irritating preservatives, which is nice,” she says. Journalist and Gather Journal cofounder Fiorella Valdesolo uses it when her skin needs extra sloughing, “particularly when the seasons change or my ancient indoor heating kicks on or after continued sun exposure and sunblock usage,” she says. “I’m a regular user of the Undaria Body Oil, which, if you use it after, really seals the deal and makes skin glisten.”

For just $6, you can indulge in a little R&R for both mind and body, which is why beauty editor and consultant Maura Lynch swears by this blend of epsom salt, shea butter, aloe vera, and vitamin E. “You wouldn’t necessarily think of doing a body scrub on a day you feel like crap, but if you’re under the weather, run a hot shower and sit in the tub while you slather this stuff on your limbs and let it sit sort of like a mask,” she says. “Yes, your skin will feel expectedly soft and smooth afterwards, but the appeal for me is that it recharges your batteries and feels very luxe and spa-y for, like, a dollar.”

Australian beauty brand Aesop has spawned a ton of much-fawned-over products (see: the status hand wash), and its body scrub is no exception. Dianna Cohen, founder of the hair-care brand Crown Affair, says she prefers a finer granule like those in this formula, which pairs salt with pumice particles and botanical oils for a fresh, green scent and surprisingly mild exfoliation. “It’s gentle and doesn’t leave the skin feeling dry,” says David Kim, a dermatologist at Idriss Dermatology in New York City. “The gentle exfoliants help remove the dead layer of the skin and leave my skin feeling soft.”

“The 5 Salt Detox Body Scrub from Goop is a dream,” says model Emily Didonato, who is also the cofounder of skin-care line Covey. “It leaves my skin feeling so smooth, soft, and moisturized.” She uses the formula several times a week, which is a testament to how gentle it is, despite containing five salts: Celtic, Himalayan, Dead Sea, New Zealand, and epsom salts. The mixture is non-irritating, though, because it’s also infused with a blend of rosehip, moringa, and olive oils to replenish skin. That’s also made it a favorite of Thirteen Lune founder Nyakio Grieco. “The fruit oils make this scrub naturally fragrant, while leaving skin hydrated and baby soft,” she says. “It’s so good at refreshing your skin and is a fall and winter must-have, because it buffs away dryness and dead cells.”

While the headlining ingredient in this best-selling (and social-media-famous) scrub is coffee, it also contains sea salt for added grit, making it powerful enough to slough off flakes — but without stressing out skin. That’s why Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist at Shafer Clinic in New York City, swears by it. “The caffeine in it is great for improving the appearance of cellulite, and it leaves the skin with long-lasting hydration and glow,” she says. “With regular use, this scrub even fades scars and helps reduce acne breakouts.” Plus, it has sweet almond oil and vitamin E to nourish and protect skin, leaving it soft and comfortable.

Best microdermabrasion salt scrub

Mona Gohara, a dermatologist in New Haven, Connecticut, says she considers this scrub to be the next best thing after bathing in the Dead Sea. “A delicate salt scrub that helps to exfoliate, it has a superfine grit and a lot of glycerin, which is one of the world’s best humectants,” she says. “It goes all over my body with special attention to my arms — since I have keratosis pilaris — and elbows, knees and heels.” It’s so gentle that she even uses it on her lips to minimize fine lines around the mouth.

While Medicube is a K-beauty mecca for high-tech tools and devices, it also makes really great body care, says beauty writer and consultant Sarah Wu. “This scrub keeps my legs feeling smooth — we’re talking as smooth as a dolphin here — and my ingrowns and bacne at bay,” she says. “It’s basically every physical and chemical exfoliant you can think of thrown into one pot: Dead Sea salt, brown sugar, micro-sugar, BHA, PHA, and niacinamide.” She says she keeps two jars on hand at all times.

One seasoned beauty editor considers this scrub her be-all and end-all, in part because the exfoliants are offset by nourishing oils. “Salt scrubs can often feel too abrasive for me, but this one includes sweet almond in its formula, which is extra nourishing and softening for the skin,” says beauty consultant Kristina Rodulfo. “I really like the scent of the scrub — it feels like you’re in a luxurious spa — and I like using it to exfoliate regularly, especially before shaving for smoother results.”

The average body scrub (which comes packed in a jar, making it easy to scoop) isn’t for everyone, since it can be messy. Plus, “traditional salt scrubs can’t get the job done because of how they’re formulated — they can fall between the cracks of your fingers,” says Kirbie Johnson, journalist and co-host of the beauty podcast Gloss Angeles. “Soft Services Buffing Bar takes the experience of a salt scrub and compacts it into a soap so that you up the ante on your exfoliation.” And because a bar dissolves more gradually than a loose scrub, this form helps the product last longer. “For anyone with textured skin, those who like to give themselves at-home pedicures, or perhaps those of us who dabble in faux tans, this is a must-have,” Johnson says, adding that it does contain shea butter, glycerin, and aloe for a touch of moisture.

Novel: a salt scrub that can be used on dry skin (or wet, depending on your preference). “I prefer the traditional method of exfoliating in a circular motion on damp skin, simply because using it dry means you have to pack on handfuls to get enough to adhere (you end up looking a bit like a salt-baked fish),” says Strategist senior editor Chelsea Peng. “But that’s actually a compliment to the texture, which feels more like damp sand versus the sodden, greasy glop some other salt scrubs can be.” It also contains just enough jojoba and essential oils to leave skin moisturized but not slippery — and Peng appreciates the pink shell that serves as a scoop.

Some more salt scrubs we’ve written about

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The 10 Very Best Salt Scrubs, According to Cool People