In today’s post, I’ll talk in detail about making a DIY body scrub, and I’ll share 9 recipes to achieve that glowing skin.
Sometimes, exfoliation gets a little forgotten about. In the sea of high-performance moisturizers, lotions, and serums, it’s easy to get distracted and hyper-focus on moisturizing the skin. After all, everyone talks about how important it is to use a moisturizer, but less so about using a DIY body scrub recipe.
Did you know that one of the causes of rough, dull, or congested skin is the accumulation of dead skin cells? If, like me, you’re always on a quest for perfect, radiant skin, then you absolutely need to work exfoliation into your routine. The best way to do this, you ask? Well, a homemade body scrub for glowing skin, of course.
If you’ve never made a body scrub before, it can seem a little daunting. After all, there’s a fine line between exfoliating and actually damaging your skin. There are lots of problems you can come across, such as which exfoliants are the best for the skin on our bodies, depending on your skin type.
Furthermore, you might also wonder what other ingredients you’ll need for your DIY scrub, besides the ‘scrubby’ part, of course. I mean, surely we can’t just throw salt on the skin and start rubbing… right? Absolutely right! And today I’m going to answer this question and many, many more.
But there’s more to exfoliation than just keeping skin looking beautiful – it’s also necessary to help keep the skin healthy. So we’ll discuss all of these things in today’s post, and I’ll share several body scrub recipes. This is gonna be a bit of a long one, so maybe make some coffee before we dive into the wonderful world of homemade body scrubs!
What are Body Scrubs?
Body scrubs are a type of skincare product that has been formulated to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells that sit at the very top, outer layer. Skin cells, like all cells of the body, don’t last forever. They go through a renewal process, starting with fresh, new cells that slowly rise to the surface.
The last stage of a skin cell is known as a ‘squarm’, and are the hardened dead cells that collect together to form surface skin. These can slough off on their own by just going about everyday life. But the majority of them will hang around for a while, making the skin appear dull, rough, or uneven.
Therefore, we can use an exfoliator, like a body scrub, to speed up this process and remove as much of that dead skin as possible. By doing so, we reveal the fresher skin cells beneath, making the skin softer, smoother and more radiant! Who doesn’t want that?
But there’s more to the mystery of body scrubs than just that.
The Importance of Exfoliation
You might have already been aware of how the texture and appearance of skin can improve with exfoliation, but did you know that it’s also important for the health and well-being of our skin too?
Skin that isn’t properly exfoliated can become very dry, flaky and cracked and can potentially lead to unnecessary skin infections. This is especially bad if you already have skin that’s prone to dryness, but it can happen to anyone.
When microbes come into contact with healthy skin, there are mechanisms in place to prevent them finding their way into our bodies. But in rough and uneven skin, these microbes can get caught or trapped, leading to unchecked microbial growth and the subsequent inflammation and soreness caused by skin infection.
This can be very painful, but also unsightly. Skin infections can lead to scarring that is permanent on the skin. But by making use of a good quality homemade body scrub, you can help to minimize this risk. Areas of the skin that are most susceptible to this problem are the feet, knees, elbows, and hands. However, it can happen anywhere.
What Ingredients Do You Need For DIY Body Scrubs?
So what do we need to make sure we don’t get any nasty infections, and our skin looks fresher and more radiant?
Well, there are a number of ingredients you can use in a DIY body scrub recipe, but there are three main groups that you absolutely need – the exfoliant, the oils, and our preservers. Let’s break these down and look at them in a little more depth.
These are the agents that will help to buff away those dead skin cells. Its job is to be abrasive, as sometimes that dead, dry skin wants to stick around until summer! But with a good quality exfoliant, you’ll be soft and smooth in no time.
So the two exfoliants I always want to make use of for the body are salt and sugar. We choose these because of their abrasive qualities. They consist of lots of small, hard granules that physically remove the dead skin cells from the surface of our skin.
However, there are other reasons why these are good choices. They both have properties as natural humectants, helping to keep the skin soft and smooth for longer and are just gentle enough not to cause damage to the skin of the body (as long as they’re used properly).
While they’re not the only exfoliants available to use as formulators, they are perhaps the best for the body. Therefore I always include one, but I do sometimes use some co-exfoliants to help enhance the benefits of either salt or sugar.
Not only is salt a great abrasive for removing dead skin cells but it’s also packed full of different minerals that have many great benefits for our skin. They can help nourish and rejuvenate, as well as providing that all-important exfoliation power.
However, we can’t just stir in any salt, especially not table salt (which is packed with iodine). There are three types that I like to work with; fine sea salt, Epsom salts, and Himalayan salt. These are all relatively dry, easy to work with exfoliants that you shouldn’t have any problems with. Which one you’ll want to use will depend upon the desired result and the theme of your homemade body scrub. For example,
Fine sea salt offers excellent exfoliating and skin-nourishing benefits. Rich in minerals like magnesium and potassium, sea salt helps in reducing inflammation and promoting skin hydration. Additionally, its use improves blood circulation, providing a therapeutic effect that aids in relaxation and overall skin health.
Epsom salt is another great exfoliant, but it’s also great for muscle aches and pains, reducing inflammation, and detoxifying and de-stressing skin. That is one of the reasons I use it in my DIY foot scrub. Furthermore, it has a neutral white color which makes it easy to dye different colors depending on your theme.
Himalayan salt, on the other hand, is great for soothing irritation, promoting skin hydration and has some antimicrobial properties too. However, it’s pink! So if you want to dye your scrub anything other than red, orange, or pink, then you might struggle.
Take a look at my strawberry jam body scrub where I used this salt. I added some strawberry fragrance oil, alongside a little red mica to sell the strawberry theme. It wasn’t so difficult given the salt was already pink!
You might be wondering where dead sea salt sits in all of this. Honestly, I tend not to use it. It’s quite sloppy and will make your scrub very wet. It has some crazy good benefits for the skin though. Because they’re already so wet, you could try to exfoliate the body without additional ingredients. If you do use it, try to limit the quantity to just 10 or 15% of your exfoliant as I did in my ocean breeze scrub.
Watch How To Make A Salt Scrub
Below is the video from my in-depth post showing how to make salt scrubs.
Sugar is another great exfoliant to use in your homemade body scrub. It’s a lot softer and more gentle than salt, and so it’s a better choice for use on sensitive skin. Furthermore, salt can be exceptionally drying for the skin, so I’d go for sugar if you have dry skin type (however, we can offset this with other ingredients in our formulations).
Furthermore, just like salt, there are a variety of different sugars at our disposal. There are three types that I work with regularly for this purpose – rapadura sugar, brown sugar and ordinary white granulated sugar.
Rapadura sugar is an excellent exfoliant that I would recommend for use on the most sensitive of skin – although it’s suitable for all skin types. In fact, it’s the only exfoliant we’ll talk about in this post that’s suitable for use on the face.
However, in general, sugar scrubs are more gentle anyway. It’s also worth mentioning that rapadura sugar, being a premium product, will likely be more expensive in your region than the regular brown or white variants. So go for this one if you know that your skin doesn’t tolerate harsh exfoliation and your budget can allow it.
The choice between the other options, brown sugar or white sugar, will most likely be down to your theme. For example, if you’re making a coffee scrub, it just makes sense to use brown sugar as this is generally the preferred sweetener for lattes and cappuccinos.
Beyond this, sugar doesn’t really have any further benefits for us. It’s not like salt where it has an abundance of different minerals that can lend themselves to positive change in our skin.
Watch How To Make A Sugar Scrub
Below is the video from my in depth post showing how to make a DIY brown sugar scrubs.
Combining something slippery with something abrasive is a crucial part of any exfoliating body scrub recipe. It just helps to keep the sugar or salt moving on the skin, and prevent any tearring at the same time.
It’s kind of like how we have to oil machinery, as it keeps the parts moving and the machine keeps going. Without it, the friction of our salt or sugar on the skin is much too harsh and can lead to the damage of the skin.
But it’s not just there to oil up our skin before we get to scrubbing, it’s also going to help nourish the skin. Carrier oils of all types have unique properties and benefits that they can impart on the skin. For example, olive oil is great for cleansing and moisturizing, as well as being rich in antioxidants that can help stop the clock on aging skin.
However, there’s a whole host of different oils you can try, and some are better for certain skin types than others. In my opinion, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or olive oil are all good choices, but for more info take a look at our guide to the different properties and benefits of our lovely organic carrier oils – it’s a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about these nourishing cosmetic ingredients.
Broad Spectrum Preservative
Preservatives are kind of necessary for this product type. While for most anhydrous, all-oil products, I would usually recommend skipping this ingredient. But for a product that is primarily used in the bathroom while showering, we need to include one.
This is because bacteria and mold need some amount of water for them to grow and multiply. If we contaminate an all oil product with even a little water, via wet fingers or condensation from our bathrooms, the product will quickly become unusable.
If we include a broad spectrum, oil soluble preservative, then we don’t need to worry too much. If you sell or gift your ingredients, then to omit this would be a grave mistake. Never expose others to the potentially skin damaging and life changing effects of unpreserved cosmetics.
Do yourself a favor. There’s nothing dirty about using a preservative to protect your skin, and your formulations are no more ‘clean’ by omitting one. ‘Clean cosmetics’ is a marketing term dreamt up by corporations to help sell their products.
Trust me, unchecked microbial growth in your scrubs is much more unhygienic. Furthermore, ecocert preservative systems that are accepted in natural skin care are readily available worldwide.
Your best option for a natural preservative system here is Geogard ECT known as Preservative Eco in the UK (Inci: benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, glycerin, sorbic acid). It is accepted in natural skin care and is soluble in both water and oil (up to a certain point).
If you’re not bothered about the natural status of your ingredients, there are several other preservatives available.
If you decide to include a broad-spectrum preservative, you can expect your scrub to last around 6-12 months. Without it, you’re looking at only a few days before the product is no longer safe to use.
While this doesn’t technically count as a preservative, I like to talk about it alongside because it serves a related purpose. Antioxidants, like vitamin e, help slow down the oxidation process of our other ingredients.
Oil based ingredients, over time, become rancid. This happens when the oils oxidize, and is a process that is associated with the degradation of an ingredient. We want to avoid this, as oxidized ingredients can lead to inflammation, sensitization. In some cases, oxidized cosmetic ingredients are carcinogenic.
But their power doesn’t stop there – antioxidants can make your skin appear more radiant. They help to bind and remove free radicals in the skin, which are thought to be one of the key contributors to skin ageing. So by including an antioxidant, we also help to fight those wrinkles and keep skin feeling tight and youthful.
Your two best options for antioxidants are vitamin e oil, and rosemary co2 extract. While vitamin e doesn’t have a dermal limit (although the recommended usage rate is 1%), rosemary co2 extract shouldn’t be used in concentrations higher than 0.05%.
Essential oils are the concentrated aromatic extracts of various plants, flowers, nuts, and seeds. They possess many of the benefits of the sources they come from but also carry the beautiful scent of them.
Lavender essential oil, for example, has exceptional healing powers for the skin. It has also been shown to help calm or soothe the mind. But its unmistakable floral yet herbaceous notes of lavender are also what make this essential oil so special. In fact, it’s been used in perfumery for thousands of years for this very reason.
All these characteristics can be imparted to your homemade body scrubs by including some lavender essential oil, in a concentration of no greater than 2% for the body.
There are a variety of different essential oils at your disposal, and I encourage you to do as much research as you can to truly unlock the secrets of this ingredient type. A great starting point is my comprehensive essential oil guide, which details all the uses and benefits of many different essential oils.
Essential oils are very potent, and therefore cannot be applied directly to the skin. This is why we have a dermal limit of 2% for this ingredient. Exposing the skin to undiluted essential oils can lead to irritation and potentially skin sensitization.
So, it’s not simply a matter of adding a few drops of your favorite essential oils. As formulators, we must take care to formulate in the right concentrations, but also protect our skin from essential oils by wearing gloves when we make cosmetics.
How To Use Your DIY Body Scrub
Using your scrub might seem straightforward, but there are a few things we should keep in mind. Firstly, it’s easiest to get the most out of your scrub by using it in the bathroom, right before you get into the shower.
- Step into the water first, to moisten the skin and prime it for scrubbing.
- Then, liberally apply the scrub to the skin and begin buffing. Make sure to spend a little extra time in your trouble areas, which are likely to be the elbows, knees, and feet.
- You want to use gentle circular motions, massaging the salt or sugar into the skin but taking care not to apply too much pressure.
- Once you’re thoroughly scrubbed, step back into the water and allow the scrub to rinse off the skin. This will be easier if the recipe you’re making includes polysorbate 80, but if it doesn’t then take some extra time to make sure you cleanse the skin of any excess oil. It really helps to make use of a non-slip bath or shower mat here for extra safety.
You can use any of my body scrub recipes once or twice a week. You want to avoid over-exfoliating, as this can cause damage to your skin. Remember, the point is to exfoliate the dead skin cells, not the living ones! For the same reason, be vigilant when scrubbing to make sure you’re not overdoing it. If the skin becomes excessively red, sensitive, or painful while using your product – stop scrubbing.
Can I Make A Scrub With Just 2 Ingredients?
Absolutely you can! You can get away with just using a mixture of oil and an exfoliant. For example, you could mix a handful of fine sea salt or ordinary white sugar with enough liquid oil to make the mixture slushy.
However, because it would lack both a preservative and an antioxidant, you can’t really make more than one application at a time.
Because we primarily use and store our body scrubs in our bathrooms, it kind of makes sense to use a preservative here. But no amount of water contamination could make a product unsafe for use in a single day. Nevertheless, whether you want to go through the effort of mixing up a scrub twice a week is the real question here.
Can I Make A Scrub From The Ingredients In My Kitchen?
Of course! You’d be surprised how ingredients in our kitchens can also double as great exfoliants.
Finely ground coffee, for example, can be a fantastic exfoliant for use on the body. It can easily be combined with sugar for a double-action exfoliator that can soften and smooth skin with remarkable effectiveness.
Ground oats or oatmeal, finely ground nuts (preferably almonds), walnut shell and even baking soda are all great choices too. Let’s face it, we’ve all had oatmeal and baking soda in our kitchens!
Then, pairing one or two of these with a liquid oil mixed in a bowl could be all you need to get to scrubbing away those dead skin cells. Olive oil and sunflower oil are two good options that you’ll likely already have. In fact, ancient Greek and Roman societies used the cleansing properties of olive oil to keep their bodies clean for thousands of years!
However, it’s important to remember that ingredients intended for use in cooking are not the same quality as those intended for cosmetics. Therefore, it’s likely that your scrub won’t match the quality of professionally formulated body scrubs. You can take things a few steps further by including a good quality antioxidant and broad spectrum preservative to keep your product fresher for longer.
What Types Scrubs Are Best For Dry Skin?
For dry skin types, you want to formulate a body scrub recipe that combines nourishing ingredients with gentle exfoliants that aren’t excessively abrasive. Therefore, I would always recommend dry skin types opt for a sugar scrub.
You can use a variety of different co-exfoliants alongside the sugar, but I would champion ground oats/oatmeal for this. It seems pretty unremarkable, but oatmeal is actually a fantastic moisturizer! So it provides 2 in 1 action to gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin. It’s the perfect choice.
For the liquid portion of this scrub recipe, I would recommend using an oil that is suitable for dry skin types, but also any oils that you know your skin loves. Because scrubs don’t spend a significant time sitting on the skin, I would avoid using anything expensive. Save your precious oils for your emulsions and serums.
My go-to would be sweet almond, due to its strengths as an effective moisturiser for dry skin types and its availability and affordability.
Want to see how these can come together to create an amazing homemade body scrub for dry skin? Take a look at my homemade body scrub for dry skin! It includes all of the above ingredients, and I’ve also included some orange powder and orange essential oil, for their gentle cleansing and supplementary moisturizing properties respectively.
How To Theme Your Scrubs?
Theming is a great way to lend a little creative flair to your products. It can make your products look, feel and smell more appealing, or a way to help your products stand out. You can also use it as a way to personalize your products as extra special gifts for people you love.
While there are no right or wrong ways to theme your products. The theme can be something as broad as ‘citrus fruits’, by combining various citrus essential oils with a relevant exfoliant, such as lemon peel or orange peel powers.
It can be even more broad, such as a ‘Pacific Paradise’ themed scrubs. You could swap out coconut oil for Monoi de Tahiti, a delightful carrier oil that is made by macerating Tahitian flowers in a solid oil and is from French Polynesia (a vivid and picturesque region of the Pacific).
I’d also add a little red, pink or orange mica to imitate the hues of an island sunset. These choices, coupled with the aroma of Pacific island flowers, plants or fruits such as basil, amyris, and bergamot, can really paint a picture of a Pacific Paradise.
To really sell your themes, you can even include whole herbs, dried flowers or seeds. We call this an ‘aesthetic flourish’. One of my favorite ways to theme a product is to mimic the look and smell of a certain food.
For example, take a look at my strawberry jam body scrub that is scented with strawberry fragrance oil. But I also included some sesame seeds as an aesthetic flourish, to mimic strawberry seeds!
Packaging also helps, so gifting or selling your scrubs in a lovely decorative container or mason jar will add to its appeal.
Can I Use A Body Scub On My Face?
Whether or not a scrub can be used on the face really depends on the formulations – specifically the exfoliant used. Because the skin of the face is much more delicate than the skin of the body, it requires gentler abrasive action.
Unfortunately, neither salt nor regular sugar are acceptable for use on the face, therefore none of the recipes I’ve shared today will be suitable. However, I have formulated a series of 12 facial scrubs that would work fabulously.
The reason we want to avoid using salt and sugar on the face is because both have been shown to cause microtearing. At best, this can cause irritation and an uncomfortable, scratchy feeling on the face. However, it’s possible for these microtears to become infected, resulting in inflammation, serious pain and potential scarring.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that it’s possible to cause microtearing on the skin even when we use gentler exfoliants, or when using standard exfoliants on the body. It’s important to keep an eye out and make sure you’re not rubbing too hard or for too long. If the skin begins to appear red, or you start to feel uncomfortable, immediately stop and rinse the skin with clean, warm water.
9 Homemade Body Scrubs For You To Try
Wow, that was a lot of information to take in, wasn’t it!? But don’t worry, if making decisions about how you’ll formulate your scrubs still feels a bit intimidating, then don’t worry. I’ve got plenty of salt and sugar scrubs for you to take a look at for inspiration. Or maybe one of them will become your next favorite homemade body scrub!
From the gentle exfoliation of brown sugar and honey powder to the soothing touch of sunflower oil, this sugar scrub recipe is a beautiful treat for your skin.
This lavender sugar scrub recipe is a powerhouse of skin-loving goodness. that gently exfoliates, leaving your skin feeling soft, smooth, and rejuvenated.
This salt scrub is definitely red and wild. And because strawberry is my favorite fruit, I had to see if I could get a scrub to be just as cute. I’m just so excited to share it with you.
That’s all I really have time for today. If there’s one thing to take away from this post is how important exfoliation is for both the health and appearance of our skin. You’re scrubbing away those old dead skin cells, revealing healthy, fresher skin beneath for a radiant glow.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below. Which one of my homemade body scrubs do you like the best? Do you find a homemade sugar scrub recipe is better for your skin, or do you prefer salt scrub recipes? I love to hear about your experiences, as it helps all of us learn more about our skincare products!