DIY Body Scrubs (4 Recipes plus a Simple Formula to Invent Your Own)
Is that food on my face? Yes, it is! I take great satisfaction in making DIY skincare products out of regular ingredients that I have in the pantry. There are a few reasons:
- If it’s safe enough to eat, then it’s safe enough to put on my skin. I don’t need to worry about reading labels, or trying to decipher chemical names, or battling through greenwash claims.
- Food items are some of the easiest things to find plastic-free and generally packaging-free. Chemicals come in bottles. Coffee grounds, sugar, salt – all of these things can be picked up from bulk stores.
- It keeps my home uncluttered. I like owning things that have multiple uses, and that goes for ingredients as much as for other stuff. One jar with multiple purposes. Plus, it’s kind of fun when you run out of something in the bathroom to just head over to the pantry, rather than traipsing all the way to the chemist.
That said, my bathroom routine is super simple (you can read about it here). Gone are the days when I thought I needed all of those products that the marketers tell us we need. I had the day cream, the night cream, the eye cream, the body lotion, the face scrub, the body scrub… I also had a cluttered bathroom and an empty wallet!
I’m also a big fan of making things that involve little effort. I like to make things from scratch, but I also like these things to take minutes to put together and to be fail-safe (I don’t want to stuff it up and have to throw anything away).
Mixing ingredients together in a jar, now that’s the kind of level of complexity I’m talking about.
DIY Skincare Scrubs from Scratch
Body scrubs exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells (there’s plenty of marketing mumbo-jumbo about glowing skin and improved lymphatic drainage and looking 20 years younger, but I’ll spare you any wild claims.) Some body scrubs also moisturise and these generally have an oil base alongside the exfoliating ingredient. I’m a big fan of products with multiple purposes, and I’m also lazy, so any product that can clean, exfoliate and moisturise all in one suits me perfectly!
A good body scrub has three main components: an exfoliator + a moisturiser + essence
By essence I mean more than the fragrance: I also mean the way it makes us feel. For example, lavender is known for its calming and sleep-inducing properties, citrus is energising and awakening, and chocolate feels decadent and indulging.
Good Natural Skin Exfoliators
Sugar, salt, dried coffee, used coffee grounds, ground oats, ground rice, bicarb of soda.
Different exfoliators have different properties. Sugar is considered more gentle on the skin than salt as the crystals are smaller and they dissolve more easily in water. Oats and ground rice are gentler on the skin and may be more suitable for face scrubs.
Good Natural Skin Moisturisers
Olive oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil.
Oils are not created equal. Some have far superior properties – and often far superior price tags to match. Olive oil is readily available and affordable so is a great optionto start with. It does have a strong fragrance and a green tinge though, whereas almond oil is a more natural colour and without a strong fragrance.
Coconut oil is unusual in that it is solid below 25°C. If you live in a very cold climate you may have a hard time getting a scrub made with coconut oil out of the jar, but if you like the idea of having a more solid product to rub in it’s a good choice.
Ideas For Essences
Essences don’t need to be fancy. You can skip them entirely and leave the scrubs plain if you prefer, or just add a drop of essential oil for fragrance. Or you can go to town, combining essential oils and flower petals and all kinds of things. Up to you.
Stimulating essential oils: grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, orange, peppermint, bergamont
Relaxing essential oils: lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, ylang ylang, rose, chamomile
Other ingredients to add: lemon, orange or lime zest; lemon, orange or lime juice; lavender flowers or rose petals; honey; thyme or rosemary; cocoa nibs; loose leaf tea (green tea, chamomile tea, peppermint tea).
DIY Body Scrub – a DIY Formula
A body scrub needs to be easy to remove from the jar, spread on your skin and rinse off.
Start with a tablespoon of your chosen oil, and a tablespoon of your chosen exfoliator, and combine. Add more of either to get your preferred consistency. Add your essences last.
If adding dried herbs, flowers or tea you may need a little more oil, as these will soak up the oil.
If adding lemon, lime or orange juice, you may prefer a little less oil as these will add more liquid to the pot.
Test it out! Always do a patch test first. Put a small amount on your skin in the crease of your elbow, and wait 24 hours to see if there is any adverse reaction. Use it in the shower, and see if you like the consistency. Make a note of any adjustments you might want to make. Test on your body before trying on your face as your facial skin is more fragile, and always avoid the eye area.
DIY Body Scrubs: 4 Recipes to Get You Started
From left to right: citrus olive oil scrub; coffee scrub; lavender sugar scrub; green tea and epsom salts scrub.
These are some ideas to get you started – feel free to play with the ingredients you have to hand and make your own combinations. All of these scrubs are fresh and do not contain preservatives, so are best stored in the fridge and/or used within a couple of weeks.
Citrus Olive Oil Scrub
2 tbsp olive oil (30 ml)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp lime zest
juice of 1/4 lime
Optional: a drop of lemon, grapefruit or lime essential oil
Mix together the sugar and oil. Add the lime zest and lime juice, and essential oil if using. You can add extra sugar or oil to get your desired consistency. Spoon into a glass jar.
Allow the scrub to settle. A layer of olive oil on the top of the jar will help keep it from spoiling. Stir before use.
2 tbsp spent coffee grounds (ask a local cafe for their used grounds)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
Optional: a drop of orange essential oil
Method: melt the coconut oil if solid, and mix the coffee, sugar and oil together. Add the essential oil last. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.
I love using coffee grounds as they are a waste product. You could use fresh coffee, but why wouldn’t you want to have a cup of coffee first?! If you use homemade coffee grounds, let them dry out as the extra moisture will mean it spoils more quickly. There’s no reason why you couldn’t use olive oil instead of coconut oil. I just like to experiment :)
3 tbsp almond oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 drops lavender essential oil
Optional: 2 tsp dried lavender flowers
Method: mix the oil and sugar together, then add the flowers and essential oil.
You could substitute the lavender flowers for chamomile flowers or rose petals, and lavender essential oil for chamomile or rose geranium. Almond oil works better than olive oil as the delicate floral flowers can be overpowered by the olive.
Green Tea Scrub
3 tsp Epsom salts
3 tsp bicarb
1 tsp matcha powder
3 tbsp olive oil
Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the olive oil. Pour into a glass jar.
Epsom salts are not actually salt, but a mineral compound containing magnesium which is thought to be very good for the skin. If you can’t find Epsom salts, regular salt or sugar will be fine. If you don’t have matcha powder, you can use regular green tea.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Do you make your own skincare products? Do you want to, or is it something you can’t see yourself bothering with? Do you have your own favourite recipes or flavour/scent combinations? Are there any other products you make from scratch? Have you ever had any disasters, or things not going to plan? Any tips you’d like to add? I’d love to hear from you, so whether you’re a DIY skincare enthusiast or avoid it at all costs, please leave me a comment telling me your thoughts!
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Disclaimer: the information here is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. It is a record of my own experiences. Always do your research before using ingredients on your skin, particularly when using essential oils.
Yep! Love making my own scrubs! And I love to give them as presents :-)
Luckily for me, my sister works at a cafe and was able to get a whole bunch of coffee grounds that were apparently too burnt to use for drinking, but are great for your skin!
In mine I mix coffee grounds, brown sugar and olive oil. I find the brown sugar makes it a little softer on your skin than the coffee grounds alone.
Thanks for all your amazing blog posts!
Thanks for your comment Clare! That’s great about the coffee – so glad it didn’t go to waste!
I used white sugar because I had some leftover from a workshop. I wonder if different sugars make a difference?! I expect it wouldn’t be huge, but if the crystals are different sizes it might make a bit of difference. I haven’t actually tried coffee grounds on their own either.
More experiments to come!
And thank you for your kind words re my blog! :)
Thanks for these great recipes! I don’t drink coffee but I’ve been wanting to try the grounds out in a scrub, so I’m going to ask next time I go to a café!
I enjoy making my own skincare products for exactly the same reasons that you give here – it’s cheaper, healthier and much more fun! I tend to keep it simple, and just mix olive oil and sugar for my scrub, because then I can use it anywhere on my body and it is a great moisturiser. I don’t shave so I have to put a lot of oil into my scrubs as my hair soaks up oil so quickly!
I have also recently tried out a DIY deodorant with coconut oil, bicarb and cornflour. I didn’t wear any deodorant for a few years, but I suddenly feel a bit smelly now and then and this recipe has worked well so far :)
In the past, I made my own tooth oil with almond, peppermint and spearmint oils. I decided to buy some recently instead, and apart from the plastic lids on the little dropper bottles, I love it!
As for disasters? I once put cinnamon in a face mask and forgot to do a patch test…ouch!
Thanks again for these recipes, looking forward to trying them out! I very recently discovered your site and I love it!
Woah Sarah, so many great thoughts! I agree, olive oil and sugar is such a simple and easily accessible combo. Definitely get some waste coffee from a cafe though and give it a try :)
My deodorant is the same – coconut oil, bicarb and either cornflour or arrowroot, depending on what I have to hand. That was what got me to switch to making my own products. I’d bought eco deodorants in the past that were expensive, of course plastic-packaged and didn’t work. When I tried the bicarb deodorant at a workshop and realised IT ACTUALLY WORKED, my mind was blown. Why was I wasting my money when there was such a simple solution right there?
Oooh, that doesn’t sound good re the cinnamon! I didn’t know that some people react to it but I just looked it up and it seems that it does happen. Not good!
Thanks for your lovely comment! :)
Unstirred?????? Sorry, I meant that I don’t sift the flour!!!!!!
Hello! My exfoliating formula is extremely simple: unstirred rye flour plus water. I read about rye in this very blog as a shampoo replacer and adopted it succesfully several month ago. Having noticed that my fingertips and nails looked very clean after use it, I thought I could try it instead of soap in the shower….It was a hit. Besides, all my body skin feels much more silky now….
So good bye soap, good bye shampoo and hair conditioner too (replaced by vinegar plus water).
And there is a big bonus: I don’t need to scrub the bath tube and tiles never again!!!!
That’s a great idea Sandra! I do love how rye flour makes a soft, soapy substance when mixed with water. Id never noticed it clean my fingernails though – I’ll have to try it when I’m trying to get all the garden soil out!
I also love the bathroom cleaning bonus! Not having shampoo and conditioner helps, but we use soap, which still makes scum. I’d be up for it, but I wonder if I could convert my husband though… ;)
I love this using what you have philosophy. I have 11 and 7 year old girls who are very in to girly things so I bought a book on making natural products, all the recipies use “exotic” ingredients. I gave up. You have inspired me to start again. I am so trying to steer them away from fast fashion and plastic gimmicky things. There more ammo I have with natural products that smell good and work, the better.
“Use what you have” is the best philosophy, in my mind at least Anna! I agree, a lot of these recipes use fancy ingredients, or very expensive ones, or lots of different ones. I’m sure it’s to create a sense of “this is actually difficult” when it doesn’t need to be at all! Why not try to make things accessible for everyone?!
I made a body butter the other day made from cocoa butter, amongst other things. It smells amazing, but I’m not sure I’d want to spend that much on a moisturising product regularly. Still, it’s fun to experiment :)
With your kids, definitely start with scrubs. Simple, no mess, and there’s lots of other pantry ingredients you can use. Just make sure you do a patch test first!!! Have fun :)
Hi, I love your recipes!
Do you happen to know a recipe for a facial scrub for oily, acne-prone skin?
lovely share, but i have a question, with the coffee scrub, do you wash it down the drain? i mean id assume itd cause clogs?
I’m wondering about this too, I’m sure small amounts just rinse through but we take great care where I work to keep the coffee grounds out of the drains or someone eventually has to get up to their elbows unblocking!
Thanks for that amazing informations
I have a question if i want to make them for long term use should i have to add preservative for them ?
I am new in the world of blogging and writing . I am an Arab and I love writing in English