Sugar or salt scrubs are one of the simplest things you can make for your skin. If you have dry skin, they are great for moisturizing. In my opinion, sugar and salt scrubs are too harsh for the skin on your face but can be wonderful for rough areas like your hands, feet, knees and elbows or to exfoliate your legs prior to shaving.
Making a sugar scrub is something you can easily do at home with ingredients from the kitchen. Really you only NEED two things- an oil and a sugar. Pour some oil in a bowl and add enough sugar until it gets to the consistency you like in a scrub.
Now, there are a lot of ways you can fuck this up and a lot of ways you can make it fancy. Here are some guidelines of stuff NOT to do when making your own sugar scrub.
1) Don't add anything that contains water or is water soluble. This includes any type of juice or extract (unless extracted in oil, unlikely to find in your house).
2) Don't add a bunch of sugar to hand soap and expect it to stay a scrub- the main ingredient in liquid soap is water!
The reasoning behind items 1 and 2 is that sugar and salt dissolve in water! It may start out a scrub but over time, the sugar or salt crystals WILL dissolve and you will be left with a very sugary or salty liquid! There is NO getting around this. A scrub with a water soluble scrubber (like salt or sugar) HAS to be anhydrous!
3) Don't add citrus oils or other irritating essential oils. The whole premise behind the anhydrous (without water) scrub is that you scrub loose any dead skin, etc and leave behind a nice moisturizing layer of oil. Citrus oils are phototoxic, meaning that when they are exposed to sunlight they kill your cells (resulting in a bleaching effect, which is why so many skin lightening products have citrus oils in them) but it's not healthy for your skin. So unless you're exfoliating your lady garden (or other areas that never see the light of day) leave the citrus oils out!
OK, now that I've covered what not to do, here's a few tips on what TO do!
1) Pick an oil that you love. There are literally hundreds of choices here. Some are substantially more expensive than others or significantly harder to get but if you have heard of it, it's out there. Some that are commonly available in grocery stores are: canola, corn, peanut, avocado, coconut, grapeseed, sunflower, olive and sesame. Personally, I like a lightweight oil so my choice would probably be grapeseed. If you have really dry skin you should pick something a little heavier like avocado, sunflower, olive, corn, canola or sesame (peanut if you don't have allergies). The only one that I would personally never use is coconut. Coconut oil is comedogenic, meaning it clogs pores and makes acne worse. I have acne issues, not just on my face but occasionally on my chest and body too- so I avoid coconut oil at all costs. If you don't have issues with acne go ahead and give it a try- it smells great!
2) Once you've picked your main carrier oil, consider purchasing a small amount of a more exotic oil or an oil soluble extract. Again the possibilities here are endless and the interweb is your friend.
Finally, if you want to get a little bit fancy, try making an emulsified scrub. All you need to make a sugar scrub into an emulsified sugar scrub is.... an emulsifier! :) Emulsifying wax (E-wax) is readily available from multiple suppliers on the internet. Emulsified scrubs are still anhydrous but when you are scrubbing your wet body part with it, it forms a microemulsion on your skin and feels like a lotion when you rinse it off. They are also easier to rinse off, don't feel as oily and don't leave a super slick, hazardous tub behind!
The recipe for an emulsified sugar scrub goes something like this:
90g oil of choice
Melt E-Wax in to oil in a double boiler
To this add as much sugar as necessary to create the desired level of scrubbiness (probably at least 100g)!
Also, since I've harped on this on my blog before, you actually do not NEED a preservative in this formula. Microorganisms need water and this doesn't have any. That said, dipping wet hands into a tub of sugar scrub CAN introduce bacteria and the water necessary, so a preservative wouldn't hurt. If you don't want to use a preservative, don't make a lot and store it in the fridge just in case. All oils do go rancid after a time, some faster than others. Keep this in mind when choosing your oils and if your scrub starts to smell funny- THROW IT OUT!
A well made sugar scrub is a quick and easy gift idea for any lucky person in your life. Just spoon it into an appropriate container and finish it off appropriately!