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I love sugar scrubs! I use sugar scrub at least once per week and up to 3 times per week when my skin needs extra care, such as in the coldest part of winter when my skin tends to really dry out. When you use sugar scrub as much as I do, you don’t want to spend premium prices on store bought natural scrubs, especially when you probably have many, if not all, of the ingredients in your house right now.
When made at home, body scrubs are a cheap, easy way to pamper yourself and make your skin feel fresh and invigorated.
Why Use a Body Scrub?
Skin cells replace themselves every 30-40 days. Most cells fall off on their own, but some skin cells need our help. When dead skin cells accumulate on the skin, your skin can appear dull and flaky.
I like to use body scrubs regularly to exfoliate and rejuvenate my skin to reveal fresh, healthy, glowing skin. Body scrubs have many benefits: they unclog pores, promote healthy and fast turnover of skin cells, even skin tone, purify pores of toxins and dirt, and balance oil production. Exfoliation opens pores and allows the oils in the scrub to absorb into the skin to moisturize and condition skin for a more radiant youthful glow.
Scrubs are also beneficial in combating keratosis pilaris, those little bumps that may accumulate on the backs of your arms and on your thighs caused by plugged hair follicles. When I use conditioning body scrubs regularly, my skin is always ready to be on display – no more embarrassing rough spots!
Benefits of Sugar
Sugar contains glycolic acid, which is in the alpha hydroxy acid family, which means that sugar helps to remove dead skin cells, allowing skin to regenerate more quickly for a more youthful appearance. Sugar is also a natural humectant, which means it pulls moisture from the air and into your skin.
Since sugar consists of round granules, sugar scrub is gentler than salt scrub, which has angled granules with sharp edges. This makes sugar scrub great for your face (especially brown sugar) and for sensitive skin. This also means you can use sugar scrubs more often – up to 2-3 times per week – instead of once per week (at most) recommended for salt scrubs.
Salt granules are hard and angular, which can actually cause microscopic tears in skin. Don’t count salt scrubs out completely! They have their place and their benefits. Read more about salt scrubs in DIY Herbal Salt Scrubs for Super Rough + Calloused Skin.
Does it matter which sugar you use? Not really. Your skin will reap benefits no matter what type of sugar you use. However, there are a few minor differences that you should keep in mind, in order to get the most benefit for your skin type.
Brown sugar is my favorite sugar to use in body scrubs. This sugar type is refined evaporated cane sugar with molasses added back into the sugar for flavoring. Brown sugar has the smallest, finest granules of any sugar type, which means it offers the gentlest exfoliation, making it great for your face and for sensitive skin. The molasses in brown sugar is high in B Vitamins, which is an antioxidant that helps protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.
White sugar is the most refined sugar, since it is bleached so much, but its granules are still a little larger than brown sugar granules. This means white sugar isn’t the best choice for face scrubs. It is a good choice for a body scrub, though it won’t have the added benefits of the glycolic acid in brown sugar.
PURE CANE SUGAR
Pure cane sugar is slightly less refined than white sugar. Its light brown color indicates a small amount of molasses is present. This is my favorite sugar for consumption because I like the faint molasses taste, but for a body scrub, it is pretty much the same as white sugar. Between this type and white sugar, I would just go with whatever you have on hand. The granules in this sugar may be slightly larger than white sugar, but I think the difference is negligible for body scrubs.
Turbinado sugar is raw sugar like Sugar in the Raw. This sugar is less refined than the previous two sugars and consists of large, coarse sugar granules, which is great for a more abrasive scrub to remove thicker skin on rough areas like elbows and feet. Salt scrubs are also great for these areas.
Tips for Applying Body Scrubs
Apply scrubs in a circular motion, which helps release ingrown hairs, instead of a back and forth motion, which may be too abrasive. Your skin should not be red, irritated, bruised, or dry after you use a body scrub, and if you see such changes after use, make sure your skin isn’t sensitive to the ingredients in the scrubs and you’re not using too much pressure while applying the scrub. You can use exfoliating gloves or a wash cloth if you like, but keep in mind, these tools may irritate sensitive skin. I like to use my hands and just scoop the scrub out of the jar with a spoon or my hands and rub the scrub all over my body. Be careful not to let the scrub get into more delicate areas, such as your groin, since even gentle sugar scrubs will tend to irritate this very sensitive skin.
Basic Sugar Scrubs
In the sugar scrub recipes below, the exfoliating sugar does a great job removing dead skin. Because sugar is so gentle on skin, you can use these scrubs up to 2-3 times per week. My favorite oil to use for body care right now is raw virgin or extra virgin coconut oil. I also included a scrub recipe with a different oil for those of you who prefer oils like sweet almond, grapeseed, and olive oils and because it’s a good idea to change up the body scrubs once in awhile to offer skin additional benefits of varied ingredients. Coconut oil hardens in cooler temperatures (around 70 degrees). This is no problem, since the warmth of your body and the shower will melt the oil almost instantly.
Please Note: Since these sugar scrubs are all natural and don’t contain any preservatives, I recommend using them within 2 months. If your scrub does get funky, don’t throw it away – these all natural ingredients can be composted.
Basic Moisturizing Brown Sugar Scrub
Here is the basic body scrub recipe on which I base my other recipes. This scrub is great for people with extra sensitive skin that can’t tolerate added ingredients like essential oils. My skin responds very well to coconut oil (unrefined has a nice coconut scent), but you can replace it with another oil, such as almond oil or olive oil, if you prefer. If your skin isn’t too sensitive, you can add 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil to this scrub.
- 1/2 cup white or brown sugar, preferably organic
- 1/2 cup coconut oil*
- Optional: 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil
- Slightly warm coconut oil in the microwave or on the stove until melted. Mix all ingredients thoroughly to combine. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar.
- *I prefer to use raw virgin or extra virgin coconut oil for body care. These raw, unrefined coconut oils have a nice coconut scent not present in more refined coconut oils. Of course, if you prefer, you can use any oil recommended for body care (e.g. almond, grapeseed, olive, etc.).
Simple Cleansing Sugar Scrub
I love Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure-Castile Soap (I prefer the liquid vs. flakes)! I use it as my main body wash and in various ways all over my house. This scrub is super fast and simple to make and holds all the benefits of Dr. Bronner’s with the added exfoliation of natural, pure cane sugar. The Castile soap in this scrub will make your skin feel fresh and moisturized, and there won’t be as much oil left on your skin as scrubs sans soap.
- 1 cup organic pure cane sugar (like )
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil*
- 1/4 cup liquid castile soap**
- Optional: 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice
- If using, add essential oils to the sugar first.
- Then, alternate adding oil and castile soap to the sugar until combined. If you like a more liquid scrub, you can add additional oil and soap in equal parts.
- *Grapeseed is non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) and is a natural preservative, so it is a good oil to use for beauty care. However, you can use whatever oil you prefer or have on hand, such as coconut (my favorite), almond, jojoba, or olive oils.
- **I like Dr. Bronner's Organic Pure-Castile Soap - their Unscented Baby Mild Liquid Soap is a great choice for sensitive skin, and their soap also comes in orange, peppermint, lavender, almond, tea tree, rose, and additional seasonal scents. Note: If you use a scented soap, you don't need to add essential oils.
These Basic Sugar Scrubs are the basis for all my sugar scrub recipes in the links listed below. These basic recipes are great as-is and fun to build on to create your own scents to enhance your shower experience.
I would love to hear from you!
What do you think? Do you like to use body scrubs regularly?