Updated 08/04/22. I’ve been an esthetician for over 30 years. Throughout that time, I’ve learned that the skincare industry is a lot like the fashion industry in that it follows trends. Some of them stick around, while others come and go. While I’ve seen this most in regard to specific skincare ingredients, entire product categories can be affected by trends too.
One product category that has been considered “unpopular” for a while now is facial scrubs. People think they should be avoided for multiple reasons, but I’m a firm believer that a well-formulated facial scrub is a critical part of anyone’s at-home routine! Seriously, they can give you major results.
In this post, I’ll explain why facial scrubs have gotten such a bad rap. I’ll also explain why they can be so beneficial. Let’s go!
Why Do Some People Avoid Facial Scrubs?
There are a few reasons facial scrubs ended up on the no-no list. Many of them have to do with poor formulations.
1. Historically, Many Facial Scrubs Contained Plastic Beads, Which Were Considered Harmful to the Environment
Back in 2013, it was discovered that microplastics had contaminated waterways around the world, even being found inside fish. It was suspected that plastic microbeads from cosmetics were the culprit. As a result, plastic microbeads were banned from being used in cosmetics (including facial scrubs!) in the U.S.
2. Many Facial Scrubs Still Use Harsh, Natural Grains that Have a Reputation for Scratching the Skin
Salt, sugar, apricot kernels, walnut husks, and other types of granular agents aren’t perfectly round. Because of their sharp edges, they don’t glide smoothly over the face. Instead, they can create too much friction, damaging the skin barrier and even creating micro-tears in it, leading to increased irritation.
Note: You might think this is similar to dermarolling, which intentionally creates micro-injuries in the skin. However, this is done in a controlled way, and you would never want any sort of tearing action from an exfoliating facial scrub.
What many people don’t realize is that there are facial scrubs that contain perfectly round, biodegradable beads to gently slough off dead skin. As always, it comes down to whether or not you’re using a well-formulated product (but more on that in a minute).
3. Many People Think that Exfoliating Acids Can Totally Replace “Old-School” Facial Scrubs
While I love exfoliating acids, and I recommend using them rather consistently, I don’t think they can “replace” a well-formulated facial scrub. Why? Because the most effective exfoliation method involves combining BOTH chemical and physical exfoliants. In fact, there’s no better way to remove stubborn hyperpigmentation…
That’s why I alternate between an exfoliating acid serum and a facial scrub to give my skin the best results. I’ll explain this in more detail in a moment.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Facial Scrub?
Despite their reputation, I very much believe that facial scrubs should be part of your routine—here’s why.
A Facial Scrub Will…
- Remove dry skin. If you want your skin to feel baby soft, nothing works faster than a scrub. Who doesn’t love instant gratification?
- Make your skin glow. Facial scrubs increase circulation to the skin via the massaging action. This gives it a fresh, healthy look.
- Improve the look of your makeup. Foundation and concealer are notorious for accentuating dry, flaky skin. A gentle facial scrub can remove that dry skin so makeup goes on smoother.
- Make pores appear instantly smaller. Read this post to learn why.
- Fade hyperpigmentation. Whether it’s caused by sun damage or post-breakout marks, facial scrubs can help fade discoloration much more quickly than just chemical exfoliants alone. Keep reading to learn how.
Why Are Facial Scrubs So Beneficial for Fading Hyperpigmentation?
One of the major benefits of a facial scrub is its ability to fade hyperpigmentation. This is why combining a facial scrub with a chemical exfoliant, in a two-step exfoliation process, is key. Let me explain.
Whether you have hyperpigmentation from sun damage or past breakouts, I bet you know how stubborn and long-lasting it can be. Some people work on fading hyperpigmentation for months (if not years!). What you need to know is that chemical and physical exfoliators work differently. It’s only when you put them together and use them in tandem, that they can synergistically remove dull, pigmented skin cells.
Chemical exfoliators dissolve the “glue” that keeps dry, dead cells stuck to the skin. In other words, they loosen them up and unstick them from the surface of the skin. Once they’re loosened up, they need to be manually removed to reveal the brighter, newer cells underneath. This is when a physical exfoliator (like a facial scrub) comes into play. It will physically lift those cells of the skin. Trust me, chemical exfoliation alone won’t give you the best results when it comes to fading hyperpigmentation. You need to use both chemical and physical exfoliation, synergistically.
What Facial Scrub Should I Use?
I’m excited to introduce a brand new product to my skincare line—the Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub! It can be used alone or in tandem with the newly relaunched Triple Berry Smoothing Peel to smooth and brighten the skin. These products are perfect for that two-step exfoliation process I mentioned earlier. The peel is a chemical exfoliant that will dissolve the bonds that hold expired cells together. The scrub is a gentle, physical exfoliant that will lift expired cells up and off the skin.
Both of these products contain antioxidants that will protect the skin from damaging free radicals and soothing ingredients to keep the skin’s moisture barrier intact. They’re the perfect pair. After all, we don’t call them “besties” for nothing!
Note: If you’re a regular reader of my blog or a follower of my skincare line, you know that Triple Berry Smoothing Peel has been out of stock for a while due to disruptions in the supply chain and ingredient discontinuation. We took this as an opportunity to reformulate the product and make it better than ever! (you can read more about that in this blog post.)
There’s also the Mint Buffing Beads, which has been my favorite facial scrub for a long time. Both Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub and Mint Buffing Beads use round, biodegradable jojoba beads to provide gentle, physical exfoliation to the skin. The biggest difference between these two products is the base. Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub contains berry extracts that provide antioxidant benefits while Mint Buffing Beads contains peppermint oil that helps stimulate circulation in tired or dull-looking skin. Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub also has a creamier base texture that may be more comfortable for sensitive skin types.
How Often Should I Use a Facial Scrub?
I believe facial scrubs should be used in a skincare routine along with exfoliating acids, but ideally not on the same day. If you’re using an exfoliating acid serum several nights a week, then use a scrub on the days when you’re not using that. Generally, one to two times a week is a good rule of thumb for using a facial scrub. I personally like to use a facial scrub in the shower, because the jojoba beads rinse away easier.
While it can be used alone, know that the Triple Berry Smoothing Scrub was formulated to be used in tandem with the Triple Berry Smoothing Peel. If you have sensitive skin, you can apply the peel one night and use the scrub on another. If you don’t have sensitive skin, you can try using them back-to-back. Just be sure to patch-test both products before using them; that’s always recommended before using any new skincare product!
The Bottom Line
Trust me when I say a well-formulated facial scrub is very effective at helping you achieve smoother, softer, and more even-toned skin. I firmly believe in the benefits of a facial scrub, which is why I won’t buy into their unpopularity and bad reputation. It all comes down to using the right one and using it correctly! So, what are you waiting for?
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”