One of the best ways to keep your skin happy and healthy is to exfoliate regularly. As skin cells die, they build up on your face and body, clogging pores and making your skin look dull and dry or even flaky. Natural exfoliates like salt and sugar are abrasive enough to scrub away dead skin, and to gently reveal the soft, beautiful new skin underneath. Now, you could spend anywhere from twenty to over a hundred dollars buying pre-made Salt Scrubs or Sugar Scrubs for your face and body, but you can get exactly the same results at a MUCH lower cost by making your own – without any synthetic ingredients, and with exactly the smell and texture you want. And it’s so easy to do, you’ll never waste the time or money on the store bought kind again.
My favorite thing about making my own body and face scrubs is that there’s a ton of room to experiment, and you can never really screw up. There is no wrong recipe, and if whatever you make turns out too dry, too oily, to scratchy, or not abrasive enough, you can always go back and add a little more of this and that until you get it right. That said, before you get started keep in mind that the coarser whatever you put in your scrub, the more abrasive the final product will be. Sugar, especially brown sugar, is gentle enough for your face, but Sea Salts, Kosher Salt or even just table salt are too harsh for sensitive skin and work best on tougher spots like your legs, feet, or elbows. Fancy salts, like Pink Himalayan Salt, Dead Sea Salts, grey sea salt, or even Epsom Salts may need to be ground down a little before they’re fine enough to be used, but they offer the added benefit of lots of helpful minerals that will enhance your skin’s natural glow.
The second component to any good scrub is oil. Now, I know what you’re thinking: rubbing oil on your face, no matter what kind, probably doesn’t seem like the greatest idea. But unless you use baby oil (which you shouldn’t – its petroleum base is bad for your skin), natural oils shouldn’t clog your pores, and many of them help moisturize and promote healthy skin. Olive Oil is an easy choice since you probably already have it on hand, but if you want to go for a little additional skin benefit or a different smell, look for Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Safflower Oil, Sunflower Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, or Tea Tree Oil, which are all skin-healthy plant-based oils that are common ingredients in many beauty products. You can use other common kitchen vegetable oils as well, but I wouldn’t recommend it, especially if you have naturally greasy skin. Ultimately, though, you can mix and match as you want to find the combination that works best for your skin. Any of the recipes below can use any kind of salt, sugar, or oil you choose to make your own completely custom scrub. You can even add a little dollop of Cocoa Butter or Shea Butter to any of these recipes for a little extra moisturizing boost.
You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your scrub to get the benefits of aromatherapy – Lavender will help relax you, Citrus will energize you, and so on – you can pick your favorite, or even experiment with mixing and matching (though if you want to pair more than two, I’d test it out with a smaller batch first!).
The Basic Recipe
Salt and/or Sugar
Oil of your choice
A Pretty Jar
1. Fill your jar most of the way full with salt, sugar, or a 50/50 mix. If you mix two or more kinds of salt and/or sugar, put the lid on the jar and give it a shake to get everything combined.
2. Add oil to the mixture gradually, a little bit at a time, letting it soak down through the grains and mixing periodically until it has the consistency you like. It should be at least the consistency of wet sand (which is what I like), but you can completely saturate the salt and sugar with oil for a more liquid scrub.
3. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils and mix again, adding a little at a time until it smells the way you want, then seal the jar and tie it with a bow for a quick gift, or just head to the bathroom to use it yourself.
Movin’ On Up Face Scrub
(or, how the basic recipe becomes pretty neat in practice)
1/2 c. Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
Approximately 1/2 c. Safflower Oil
A Few Drops to 1/4 t. Vanilla Extract
1. Combine ingredients according to instructions above for a gentle, warm, cookie-smelling face scrub that will leave your face looking radiant.
Pick Me Up Body Scrub
Once you’ve mastered the simple salt or sugar scrub, you can start experimenting with other mix ins. Here’s one of my favorites.
1/2 c. Table Salt
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon – 1/4 cup coffee grounds
Olive Oil as needed
Vanilla Extract (optional)
1. Combine according to basic instructions, but add coffee last, a little bit at a time. The coffee will make the scrub much coarser, so you might want to test it as you go, but the mix should be peppered with the granules, not dominated by them (unless you want to use it just on your feet and elbows – in which case, go crazy!). This rough scrub is great for hands, feet, and legs, and will give you a nice little caffeinated pick up. Just be sure to rinse the tub thoroughly when you’re done, since the coffee will start to brew in your bath water.
1 c. Granulated Sugar
1/4 c. Peppermint Candies crushed or ground fine in a food processor
1/2 c. Oil of your choice
6 drops Peppermint Essential Oil (optional)
1. Combine according to the basic instructions for an energizing body scrub – great for a Holiday gift!
Sweet Treat For Your Skin
(best if you like a moister scrub!)
2 c. lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. honey
1. tsp. vanilla extract
1. Combine as you’re probably used to by now! The honey in this recipe may seem like a weird addition, but it will really help moisturize and nourish your skin, and help your skin retain moisture as well. Be aware that because this recipe is wetter, it might separate – so just give it a stir before you use it.
Breakfast For Your Skin
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. ground oatmeal (instant oatmeal run through a food processor and reduced to a powder)
1/4 c. honey
3/4 to 1 c. oil of your choice (or to total saturation, if desired)
1/4 tsp. essential oil (if desired) – vanilla is nice for this recipe
1. Combine all ingredients for a very smooth, non-greasy face and body scrub that will hydrate as it exfoliates and leave your skin feeling great.
Whatever your perfect mix turns out to be, all body scrubs work the same way: just rub a small handful onto your damp skin in a slow, circular motion, and then rinse for clean, beautiful skin. Just be sure the bathtub gets clean, too – the oil can leave it a little slippy! Do you have any favorite body scrub recipes of your own? If you already make your own and are here looking for more recipes – what are your favorite oils and add ins? I’d love to hear what works for you!