Learn how to use sugar scrubs to combat dry, flaky skin as well as how to easily and affordably make homemade body scrub for glowing skin and to avoid the harsh chemicals in many commercial brands.
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Sugar scrubs and homemade sugar scrub recipes have been around for a long time. They are pretty simple and you may wonder why I'm bothering to add to the mix.
Honestly, I wondered, too.
Until I was gifted a scrub and decided to try it - and then wanted to tell you about how I'm using sugar scrubs and why I think you may want to as well!
First let me start my story with this: I didn't get what the big deal with sugar scrubs was.
I mean, what does a sugar scrub do?
I knew that scrubs were made with with sugar granules and some type of oil, which are used to help exfoliate dead skin cell buildup by massaging into skin.
That sounded good, but I read mostly about using them for your hands and maybe feet, and well, I didn't really need an exfoliant for my hands - lotion works just fine, thank you.
So I'd link to recipes for DIY gift ideas, but I never even thought about making or using any. I didn't see the point.
Then a few years ago my son gave me a sugar scrub in my stocking. I said thank you, never really intending to use it (just being real here!). It sat around for a few months until guilt made me figure I just needed to at least try it.
But I did a little research first because while dry hands wasn't really a problem for me, dry and flaky arms, torso, and legs were. And it had just gotten worse with age. Lotion didn't seem to make much difference either, unlike my hands, nor did the baby oil I use after every shower (though it does help with overall softness).
So I asked, "Is sugar scrub good for your body?"
And I discovered that, yes, it's a great exfoliant for bodies, especially dry, rough areas of the elbows, knees, and heals.
Okay, great - let's use it on my body's dry skin! But then I wondered about another thing:
Are sugar scrubs okay for septic systems?
In hindsight, I'm not sure why I was worried about that, since it's the same oil and sugar which we use in the kitchen. But I think I was wondering about oil in the pipes and sugar in the system.
Well, it seems that the bacteria that make septic systems work love the food that sugar brings. And the little bit of oil that goes down the drain with the hot water won't hurt it.
Armed with this knowledge, I took the container into the shower with me and ended my shower by rubbing my body with the scrub.
And I became a believer in the benefits of sugar scrubs.
The scrub immediately left my skin feeling smooth and soft and within a day I could see that it minimized my dry skin flakes (especially noticeable on black exercise pants).
After thanking my son again and letting him know how much I loved it (ha!) I experimented with how to use a sugar scrub, how often to use it, different recipes, and ways to store it.
And every time I use it, I think - I need to write about this and let others know how great this works for dry skin!
So, here it is - all you wanted to know about using sugar scrubs but were afraid to ask, lol.
Oh, and this isn't just for women, either - anyone with dry flaky skin or rough patches should add a weekly sugar scrub to your routine!
How to Use Sugar Scrubs + Favorite DIY Recipe
How to use sugar scrub to combat dry, flaky skin
It's so quick and easy that it fits neatly into any simple homemade life!
- Make a sugar scrub in about 5 minutes with just 3 ingredients (find my favorite recipe and other resources below). TIP: While some commercial sugar scrubs are mostly just sugar and oils, many have a long list of ingredients which include some harsh chemicals like polysorbate 20, silica, evening primrose oil (not great for sensitive skin), oxides, and colors. So beware if you're wanting just purchase some to read the ingredients.
- Place the scrub in a reusable container. I use plastic so I don't have to worry about glass falling in my tiled shower. It doesn't all fit, so I keep the extra in a mason jar on a shelf and add it to the shower container when needed.
- Use the scrub once or twice a week in the shower after washing right before you're done. Simply grab what will fit on a couple fingers and rub it onto a section of your body in a circular motion starting with your arms and moving down your body. Pay special attention to elbows, knees, and heels if needed.
- Rinse off any remaining sugar granules before turning the water off and toweling dry. The oil that remains will soak in and continue to soften your skin (it doesn't stain towels or anything).
Do you use soap after body scrub?
No, any soap should be used before massaging in the sugar body scrub. Your skin will be cleaned and ready for the scrub to exfoliate, plus the oil in the scrub will be able to help keep the moisture from your shower working all day.
How often can you use sugar scrubs?
Similar to facial exfoliants, you don't want to use scrubs too much - every day use would lead to overexfoliation and cause dry, irritated, and sensitive skin. Basically the opposite of what we want.
I found that just once a week was perfect for me, both to remember to use it (if it's Wednesday, it's sugar scrub day), and to combat my dry skin.
The general rules for exfoliant use I found when researching was:
- Once a week for sensitive skin.
- Two to three times a week for normal skin.
- And if you have a skin condition, you should talk to a dermatologist first.
I wouldn't characterize my skin as sensitive, but once a week is easy and works, so that's what I'm about!
DIY Sugar Scrub Recipe, Variations & Resources
Homemade Body Scrub for Dry Skin Ingredients
You probably won't be surprised to find that my favorite body scrub recipe is simple and quick, made with ingredients I have in my pantry as well as one to two essential oils.
- Cold-pressed olive oil, preferably organic. There are lots of different oils you can use like sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil.
- Cane sugar. There are other sugars you can use, just remember, the coarser the grind, the more exfoliating it will be. I prefer cane sugar that's bigger than regular white sugar, but not as big as raw sugar.
- Essential oils. You can skip these, but the smell in the shower is invigorating and I would highly suggest investing in at least one for your scrubs. I alternate between citrus like the lemon shown and lavender and have been adding geranium oil after discovering how lovely the addition smelled (plus, it's supposed to have a calming effect).
Add all your ingredients - 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup oil, and a few drops of the essential oils - to a small bowl and stir until combined.
I know - can you handle it?
TIP: the ratio of oil to sugar is totally personal - more sugar will make it drier, more oil and it will be looser, obviously. I've found that for using in the shower the 1 cup sugar to 1/2 cup oil works great. Of course, play around with the ratios for the one that works best for you!
Add the sugar scrub to your reusable container. I simply repurposed the container the original scrub came in that my son gave me. There are some options for purchasing in the resources section below.
Like I mentioned, I'd steer clear of glass containers if you have a tiled shower. With the oil, it can get slippery and you wouldn't want to drop it and have to deal with glass in the shower.
Which sugar is best for body scrub?
I prefer organic cane sugar for my body scrub as it seems to be the perfect balance between coarse raw sugar and finer regular white sugar.
I've read that many people like a brown sugar body scrub for it's medium coarse texture, too.
You can actually make more specific sugar scrubs by varying the sugar:
- Use fine white sugar (or even super fine baking sugar) for facial or lip scrubs.
- Use coarse raw sugar for the rough patches on elbows and heels.
What about salt scrubs - are they the same as sugar scrubs?
Generally both white and brown sugar is considered gentler on skin than either sea salts or Epsom salt.
So for our body scrubs, sticking with sugar is best.
More DIY Sugar Scrub Recipes & Resources
However you make them, I hope you do it and use them to see for yourself how homemade body scrub can give you glowing skin!
DIY Sugar Scrub for Body
- Small bowl and spoon
- 1 cup sugar, white cane sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil*
- 6 drops geranium essential oil**
- 4 drops lemon essential oil**
- Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until completely combined.
- Transfer the mixture into nonbreakable container(s).
- Use in the shower after washing, massaging with circular motions into the skin. Rinse sugar granules off with warm water and lightly towel dry.
- Use the scrub to exfoliate skin 1 to 2 times a week.
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Coconut Oil
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- DIY Liquid Foaming Soap & Container Ideas