DIY Body Scrub: How To Make It At Home For Every Skin Concern
Ah, the body scrub: An important yet oft-overlooked step in your skin care routine. You might be familiar with the benefits of a regular exfoliating game, but body scrubs do more than slough off dead skin cells: They're also great for encouraging circulation. Similar to dry brushing, scrubbing in circular motions can help rejuvenate your skin—a delicious feeling, especially if you're sitting at a makeshift home desk all day.
And while there are plenty of market options to invest in, it's actually quite easy to make your own luxurious blend at home. But the best part? Body scrubs take only minutes to make, perhaps the best project if you've just dipped your toe into the DIY waters. DIY newbies, this one's for you:
How to make your own body scrub.
Every body scrub has two simple components: a physical exfoliant and an emollient. As long as you have those two, you can create a body scrub out of virtually anything (and mix-and-match as you please).
The physical exfoliant is perhaps the most important (after all, you're primarily using the body scrub to exfoliate!). That said, take a peek into your kitchen and see if you have some granular ingredients on hand; A few to try.
- Brown sugar
- white sugar
- Coffee grounds
- Salt (fine to coarse)
- Baking soda
In terms of the emollient, that's typically a carrier oil, as it provides moisturizing properties to the scrub. (You can also use a butter if you like a creamier textured scrub) It's also what helps give the body scrub its pasty consistency, according to Marisa Plescia, research scientist at clean beauty e-tailer NakedPoppy.
Body scrub base recipe:
The how-to for most body scrubs is the same. Once you know the base and basics, you can have fun from there.
- Place 1 cup of the physical exfoliant in a mixing bowl.
- Add in your carrier oil 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing in between additions.
- Keep adding tablespoons of oil until it forms that familiar paste. "Usually this will require between 3 and 6 tablespoons," says Plescia.
- When it's at the right consistency, feel free to slather it on immediately or store the mixture in a cool, dry area.
5 DIY recipes for every skin concern: Specific pairings to try.
Once you've got the basic recipe down, why not jazz it up with some fun add-ons? Like many other DIY projects, you can enhance the body scrub experience by adding in some extra good-for-you ingredients.
Fruit enzyme body scrub for extra exfoliation.
For even extra exfoliation, Plescia recommends adding in a gentle chemical exfoliant to the mix via enzymes.
- Create your base layer. Since you're adding a chemical exfoliant to the mix later, error on the side of a finer texture here.
- Opt for fruit enzymes, like pineapple or papaya—those naturally exfoliate the skin, plus they provide a hint of yummy fragrance. Simply blend a few slices of your fruit of choice until it's a mushy, smoothie-like constancy.
- Spoon in the fruit into your scrub, mixing so it has an even consistency.
ACV scrub for body acne.
Apple cider vinegar is touted as a beloved acne fighter. ACV is naturally full of AHAs, specifically lactic, citric, and malic acids, which can give your body scrub that chemical boost helping resolve any body acne.
- Create your base layer. Since we're targeting acne here, consider finding a non comedogenic oil, like jojoba.
- Add in a tiny bit ("A teaspoon or even less," Plescia says) of apple cider vinegar.
- It has a pungent smell, so consider adding in a few drops of essential oils to help mask the scent. Just be very careful with these, as a little definitely goes a long way: Essential oils can potentially cause some irritation when used at high levels.
Honey body scrub for moisture.
For a more moisturizing experience, may we suggest adding in some honey? "Honey is a wonderful ingredient to add since it is a natural humectant, meaning it helps skin retain moisture," Jana Blankenship, product formulator and founder of the natural beauty brand Captain Blankenship, explains. Your scrub will lift dead skin cells and buildup while simultaneously locking in moisture.
- Create your base. Shea butter and honey tend to blend together better than an oil, so consider using that as your base.
- Add in a few tablespoons of honey and mix until blended evenly.
Coffee scrub for lift and tone.
Caffeine and coffee are common additions to body care products as they can help improve circulation in the skin, thereby creating a temporary improvement in tone and texture.
- Create your base with brewed coffee grounds. (Make sure the grounds have cooled before using.) You can play around with the oil, but we recommend melted coconut oil.
- You can create a delicious smelling confection by adding in a tablespoon of cinnamon and a few dashes of vanilla extract.
- If you want to amp up the exfoliation, here, try using sugar as well as coffee grounds.
Oat scrub for sensitive skin.
Oat, colloidal or extract, is often recommended for those with easily irritated skin. The ingredient helps soothe inflammation and tends to the barrier function.
- Make your base with the oat and your oil of choice. Almond oil is a popular paring.
- You can add more anti-inflammatory benefits by adding a bit of honey to the mix as well.
How to use a body scrub: Tips and warnings.
Be careful with how abrasive your exfoliant is.
If you're using salt, make sure it's not too harsh for your skin. "Coarse sea salt can be great for exfoliating rough feet but can be a bit too tough for more sensitive parts of the body,” says Blankenship. Plescia agrees: "Although a body scrub can lead to healthier and smoother skin, it can also cause some skin irritation and redness if you use physical exfoliants that are too coarse." So you might want to stick with finer granules, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Use it in the shower before you shave.
In terms of when to scrub, Blankenship mentions it's best to use in the shower, especially before shaving. "Exfoliating before shaving will lead to the smoothest shave ever," she adds. Just make sure to follow that exfoliation with another emollient (like a body oil or moisturizer) post-shower; for extra-soft skin, you'll want to lock in the moisture right off the bat.
Apply pressure gently.
However, be mindful of how much you're scrubbing. Feeling like a product formulator can be rather exciting (we get it—DIY projects can bring so much joy), but know your limits; scrubbing every time you shower can run the risk of irritation. "Overly frequent use or rubbing too hard can aggravate your skin," Plescia says.
Stick to once a week.
People often have questions on how much they should be exfoliating their skin. It's a tricky answer as everyone is different, but once a week is a good number. "The most important tip is that 'less is more.' You want to exfoliate just enough to increase cell turnover and reveal fresh new skin," says Ife Rodney, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Eternal Dermatology. "But be sure to not scratch or damage your skin by overusing these devices or products."
Never use the scrub on your face.
Body exfoliators shouldn't be used on the face. They are often thicker in consistency and contain higher concentrations of acids and could be too irritating for delicate facial skin," says board-certified dermatologist Raechele Cochran Gathers, M.D. "Likewise, using a facial exfoliation on your body may not be strong enough to give you the results you're looking for."
You'll want to keep your body scrub in a dry place with a tight lid. While you might want to keep it in the shower (to easily dip your fingers in the jar whenever you please), Blankenship says exposing your scrub to water will easily lead to mold. As we know, a moist mixture can quickly become breeding ground for bacteria, especially all-natural formulas that don't include any preservatives. That said, find a drier spot to store: "I like to scoop some into a small bowl and bring it in the shower with me," Blankenship adds.
The DIY body scrub may be a simple venture, but there's so much room for creativity (and room for trial and error, might we add). Feel like enhancing the exfoliation? Chuck in your AHAs. Looking for a sensory experience? Use coffee grounds as your granules and add in some vanilla oil for a spa-grade scrub. The possibilities are endless here—just make sure to always do a patch test before slathering on the mixture. The result should leave you with fresh, luminous skin, just in time for summer to roll around.
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Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.