It’s a given at this time of year, with more skin on show, that we have to up our body-care game if we want to look our best. From meticulous hair removal to fake tanning, these pursuits also require steps in-between, including a good old slough session with a body scrub or exfoliating mitt or glove.
As much as we love body scrubs, exfoliating mitts and gloves are easier to use, mess-free, and last a long time, making them super cost effective. They’re steeped in tradition too, and have long been part of cleansing and skincare rituals in Korean, Japanese, Turkish and Arabic cultures.
The best exfoliating mitt or glove will sweep away dry, dead skin cells to reveal soft and smooth skin, boost circulation to perk up dullness, and stimulate lymphatic flow. Add one to your body-care routine and expect your skin to not only look brighter and feel silky soft, but you’ll see less in-grown hairs, clogged pores and body breakouts if you’re prone to them. And the benefits don’t end there – the even surface will also make subsequent products work more effectively, be it your moisturiser or fake tan.
Each mitt or glove works slightly differently, so for the best results, always read the instructions. Some are best used with firm, sweeping motions, while others are suited to circular movements. Some should be used on dry skin, whereas others are best on wet. One thing they all agree on is they must be washed straight after use, as they can be breeding grounds for bacteria and mould.
No need to test the waters for yourself, as we’ve done the hard work for you. Each was tried on all areas of the body, using the product’s instructions. To make our winning cut, the mitt or glove had to leave our skin feeling super soft and smooth to the touch, but it also had to wash well and survive for many months, to keep our skincare habits on the right side of sustainable.
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The best exfoliating gloves and mitts for 2021 are:
Best overall – Face halo body: £17, Boots.com
Best for keratosis pilaris – Ameliorate exfoliating body mitt: £10, Lookfantastic.com
Best for gentle exfoliation – No1 Illume silk exfoliating glove: £15.99, No1illume.com
Best for reaching your back – Bronzie back and body exfoliating mitt: £20, Selfridges.com
Best for deep exfoliation – Hydrea London sisal body mitt: £7.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best for fake-tan users – Skinny Tan exfoliating mitt: £4.45, Feelunique.com
Best budget gloves – The Body Shop bath gloves: £4, Thebodyshop.com
Face halo body
Known for their planet-friendly reusable make-up pads, Face Halo has made another game-changing product with this double-sided body mitt. Use the cream-coloured side on wet or dry skin to gently buff away dead skin cells. Flip it over for deep cleansing, as the black side uses the brand’s microfibre tech – fibres that are so tiny they’re 100 times finer than human hair, and can reach into pores.
This mitt makes fast and effective work of body exfoliation without any irritated or sore skin in sight. It’ll remove fake tan in an instant and with continued use, two to three times a week, it should clear up body breakouts, as it did for our tester. If it’s just silky soft skin you’re after, you’ll find using it once a week is enough. Promising to last 200 washes, you can even pop it in the washing machine and it’ll come out like new.
Buy now £17.00, Boots.com
Ameliorate exfoliating body mitt
Best: For keratosis pilaris
If you have keratosis pilaris (often known as “chicken skin”), which shows up in the form of pesky bumpy and rough skin often found on the backs of arms but elsewhere too, you should be familiar with this brand and its skin-transforming cult body lotion. The collection also includes this purse-friendly exfoliating mitt that is gentle but still packs a smoothing punch on more problematic skin types. Designed to be used on dry skin before showering, simply massage to sweep away dead cells and unblock hair follicles for an instantly smoother feel. We found it best to use in the shower so you catch all the “dust” and can wash it away. For the price, you can treat yourself to two and speed up the process with one on each hand.
Buy now £10.00, Lookfantastic.com
No1 Illume silk exfoliating glove
Best: For gentle exfoliation
If you’re a TikTok fanatic you might recognise this glove that went viral earlier in the year and created a large waiting list after it sold out. Made of 100 per cent intricately woven silk viscose, it’s handmade in Turkey and was inspired by the ancient ritual of deep exfoliation and detoxification that takes place in the country’s bathhouses.
Although we were surprised at first that this wasn’t silky soft (like a scarf or tie), but somewhat rougher in texture, it’s still beautifully gentle on the skin. It works best when you’ve softened skin in a bath or shower for 10 to 15 minutes, then you wet the glove (which is more of a mitten) and sweep away dead skin. We found it satisfying to watch our skin peel away on first use, but the more we used it the less this happened as our skin became softer, smoother and brighter.
Buy now £15.99, No1illume.com
Bronzie back and body exfoliating mitt
Best for: Reaching your back
For a mitt that can get to every part of the body, including your back, without the help of a partner, reach for this clever gadget from the fake-tan brand. Made of woven fabric that stretches and moves with your body, simply wrap the middle panel around the back and place both hands in the mitts on the ends to use. Infused with charcoal that works like a magnet to draw out dirt and impurities from the pores, this is a must-have for those suffering from back breakouts exacerbated by sweaty workouts or the summer heat.
And, as the saying goes, many hands make light work – we found the double-ended mitt makes exfoliating the rest of the body quicker too. Use on its own for a gentle weekly exfoliation or as part of a step system for a natural-looking faux tan.
Buy now £20.00, Selfridges.com
Hydrea London sisal body mitt
Best for: Deep exfoliation
Turn to this brand for a large collection of natural exfoliation mitts and gloves with different exfoliating strengths. At the coarse end lies this version made of biodegradable and unrefined sisal fibre that comes from the agave plant. Use wet and expect a once-over to feel tough on the skin – not in an unpleasant way, but like a firm massage. Be careful in more sensitive areas where only light pressure is needed. After just one use it completely transformed the dull, dry skin on our legs into healthy-looking pins we could be proud of. This one is not for skin on the sensitive side, but it’s a must-have for dry types.
Buy now £7.99, Amazon.co.uk
Skinny Tan exfoliating mitt
Best: For fake-tan users
Reach for this mitt if you’re a fake-tan obsessive looking for an exfoliator to be used as part of your regime. It’s another clever two-sided mitt with different grades of exfoliation. Use the gentle orange side to create a smooth canvas for your tan, shedding your body of dead skin cells that can cause a patchy, uneven look. Turn it over and the brown side uses dermabrasion, for correction or tan removal. Our colour was beautifully even and lasted for days when we used this mitt a day before application. It’s a fake-tanning must-have!
Buy now £4.45, Feelunique.com
The Body Shop bath gloves
Best: Budget gloves
You get change from a £5 note with our favourite, good-value exfoliating gloves, which is a rarity for a beauty product these days. Expect this snug pair to stretch and fit comfortably around the hands (you get a pair), making light work of flexing around more troublesome areas like the knees and elbows. We found these were especially effective on feet, making it easy to get in-between toes and buff away hard skin on the heels. Compared to other value alternatives we’ve tried, what set these apart is that they wash well, so they last longer. Our only gripe is there’s no handy hook to hang them up to dry.
Buy now £4.00, Thebodyshop.com
The verdict: Best exfoliating gloves and mitts
The Face halo body is our best buy, as it’s a two-in-one pore cleanser and exfoliator that works on all skin types, and washes well – even in the washing machine. If you’re looking for a speedy option that works all over the body (back included) opt for the Bronzie back and body exfoliating mitt.
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