orange bowl filled with a brown sugar-based body polishing scrubShare on Pinterest

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Body polishing is a type of full-body exfoliation that removes dead skin cells, promotes cell regeneration, and moisturizes the skin.

It’s typically found on spa menus as a way to prepare skin for other treatments, like wraps.

Think of it as a facial for the body.

Body polishing has numerous benefits for your skin, including:

  • exfoliating your skin to remove dead skin cells
  • unclogging pores to prepare for a body treatment
  • promoting cell regeneration to encourage healthy skin
  • moisturizing and hydrating dry skin
  • promoting blood flow with invigorating exfoliation

Body polishes and body scrubs are very similar. Both exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells.

However, body scrubs cleanse the skin while body polishes only remove dead skin cells and hydrate.

You certainly can! You can bypass the hefty price tag of salon body polish treatments by creating your own at home.

Keep in mind that for an optimal DIY body polish, you’ll need an oil base and a physical exfoliant.

The oil base helps to hydrate the skin and protect from overly aggressive exfoliation.

The physical scrub, such as salt or sugar, helps remove dead skin cells and increase blood flow.

First, jump in a warm shower or steam your body to prepare the skin and open up your pores.

Next, massage an oil all over your skin. For a more therapeutic massage, warm up the oil before applying.

Now, it’s time to exfoliate. Apply your scrub mixture to the skin and use a loofah or sea sponge to rub in circular motions.

For particularly rough areas, like the elbows and knees, you can use a pumice stone to firmly scrub.

Once you’ve polished all over, take another warm shower or bath to fully rinse off the mixture. Avoid using soap the day afterward to minimize skin irritation.

Finish by moisturizing your entire body to keep your skin feeling soft and hydrated.

Selecting the right body polish depends on your preference and how your skin reacts to certain ingredients. Here are a few things to consider.

If you’re DIY-ing it

Start by selecting your exfoliant. This can be things like:

  • salt
  • sugar
  • rice bran
  • coffee grounds
  • ground nut and fruit shells, avoiding ground stone fruit pits, such as peach or apricot, and nut shells, such as ground walnut shells

Then, you’ll want to select your oil base. Body polishes typically contain olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil.

To finish, you can add extras that provide skin benefits, such as:

If you’re buying a pre-made product

Not sure you want to DIY your own polish? Luckily, there are plenty of in-store polishes to help you on your body polishing journey.

A popular choice for all skin types is the Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Body Polish — shop for it here — which uses coconut oil to gently hydrate.

For those who have dry skin, look for body polish with a milk and honey base like Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish, which you can find online.

If you have sensitive skin that’s easily irritated, try a body polish with a less aggressive exfoliant, such as the First Aid Beauty Cleansing Body Polish with Activated Charcoal, which you can find online.

This is also a popular pick for those with oilier skin types, thanks to its absorbent activated charcoal formula.

While you can get similar results from an at-home body polish, salon treatments can be more personalized to your individual skin needs.

Most salons offer a variety to choose from, including:

  • anti-cellulite polish, which uses invigorating ingredients to help improve circulation
  • “glow-enhancing” polish, which uses certain oils to leave the body feeling soft and nourished
  • tan-optimizing polish, which prepares the skin for optimal spray tan application

Here’s what you can expect at a salon appointment.

First, the technician will ask you to undress to your underwear.

Most of your body will be covered during the treatment, so don’t worry if you feel shy or modest.

Then, they’ll have you lie face down on a massage table, covering your body with a sheet.

The technician will uncover small areas of your body at a time, keeping the rest of your body covered by the sheet.

To begin:

  1. Your technician will use a steamer to open up your pores and prepare your body for application.
  2. Then, they’ll massage the body with warm oil.
  3. Next, they’ll apply the exfoliating mixture to your skin, rubbing gently but firmly in circular motions.
  4. Once the mixture is applied to the back half of your body, they’ll ask you to turn around and they’ll repeat it on the front half of your body.
  5. Once your entire body is exfoliated, your technician will rinse everything off. Sometimes this is done on the table with a bucket of water. Other times, they’ll ask you to rinse off in one of the salon’s showers.
  6. To finish, you’ll return to the massage table so the technician can apply moisturizer all over the body. This will seal in moisture and prolong the results from the exfoliation.

Body polishes are more rigorous in nature, so you should stick to once a month at most.

Between treatments, you can use an at-home body scrub to lightly exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface of your skin.

It’s important to not overdo body polishing. Using a body polish too often can overexfoliate your skin, leading to irritation or redness.

Keep in mind that you should skip polishing or exfoliation if you have open sores, cuts, or sunburns. You can resume your usual schedule once your skin has healed.

Body polishing — whether you do it at home or at a salon — is a great way to remove dead skin cells and promote healthy blood circulation.

Considering an in-spa body polish but don’t know which treatment to choose? Call the salon and schedule a (often free!) consultation.

There, you’ll speak with a technician who can offer personalized advice on which DIY or in-spa treatments will work best for your skin.


Jen is a wellness contributor at Healthline. She writes and edits for various lifestyle and beauty publications, with bylines at Refinery29, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and bareMinerals. When not typing away, you can find Jen practicing yoga, diffusing essential oils, watching Food Network, or guzzling a cup of coffee. You can follow her NYC adventures on Twitter and Instagram.