My tryst with homemade scrubs started two years ago when my daughter got to be part of a green initiative, emphasizing Ocean Conservation. Raising awareness of our ever-increasing plastic consumption is at the crux of that. She was part of experiments involving the separation of micro-plastic beads from gel washes and scrubs. To drive home the importance of it, I decided to start using homemade scrubs using ingredients from the pantry.
The benefits for me on a personal basis are multi-fold and go beyond skin deep. The activity is a time for some child-parent bonding and has inculcated a self-care routine (which is an extension of self-love) along with doing our bit to save the planet.
The Basics Of Homemade Scrubs – Purpose, and Preparation
Scrubs help exfoliate the skin, clean the pores, and improve blood circulation, enhancing the skin tone and feel. Exfoliated skin is smooth and absorbs moisture more efficiently, giving it a nourished look. Making scrubs at home allows us to choose the ingredients as per our skin type and requirements.
As per Ayurveda, the emphasis is “Don’t put it on the skin, if you wouldn’t eat it,” and making scrubs at home has helped me avoid the harsh chemicals/preservatives to some extent.
For people trying it for the first time, the recommendation would always be to do a patch test to check for skin sensitivity and allergy. Avoid eyes and sensitive areas while doing the patch test.
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With a few simple precautions to maintain hygiene while preparation like using clean hands/spoons and sterile, airtight jars for storage, it is easy to make and incorporate these in our regular skincare routine. If using Milk/curd/fruit/honey in the mix, do store in the refrigerator and use it within a week.
The general rule of thumb for making a scrub is to choose an exfoliant, a base liquid/oil, and then have fun with the various possibilities of add-ins. The illustration shows some commonly used ingredients. Go ahead, take your pick, and mix and match to see what suits your fancy.
Homemade Scrubs – DIY Recipes
Some of my all-time favorites tried and tested recipes are listed below. I have also tried to mention the skin-benefiting properties of different ingredients and some possible variations of the base recipe.
This is as basic as it gets. Take 1 cup sugar (Brown sugar/ White Sugar), mix in ½ cup oil (coconut oil/olive oil), 2 tsp Vanilla Extract and you are good to go. Sugar has more uniform crystals than salt, and so is less abrasive. If making scrub for the face, go for fine-grain sugar, which exfoliates gently.
For fun add-ins, mix in:
- Citrus zest (1/2 tsp.) – Associated with freshness, boosts collagen, and has mood-enhancing properties.
- Honey (1-2 Tbsp.) – Natural antiseptic and emollient, could help breakout-prone skin while moisturizing it gently.
- Pureed Fruit (1-2 Tbsp.) – Berries for their antioxidant, free-radical fighting properties; Banana/Papaya for hydrating, toning benefits, and any fruit for their yummy fruity fragrance.
- Essential oils (1-2 drops are just enough) – Lavender for calming/anxiety-relieving benefits; Tea-tree oil for anti-fungal properties, help with breakout-prone skin; Peppermint for invigorating the senses; lemon/orange for zest and freshness.
- Herbs/spices (1-2 tsp.) – Crushed mint leaves for soothing and calming effect; Turmeric for its antiseptic and antibacterial property; Cinnamon for that heavenly smell.
- Vitamin E (few drops) – For its Anti-aging, skin brightening, and anti-wrinkle properties.
Salt, although more abrasive than sugar, is a good exfoliant and helps with dead skin removal and skin renewal. Sea salt, Epsom salt, and Himalayan Salt are generally used and make good foot and body scrub. Salt also helps with grounding, detoxes by drawing out toxins, and relaxes sore muscles.
For the basic recipe use 1 cup salt of your choice + ¼ – ½ cup oil + fun add-ins mentioned in the sugar scrub.
One great add-in for Salt scrub is Baking Soda, which has many household and beauty uses (This calls for an article in itself!). When added to scrubs, it helps unclog pores, remove oil and dirt from the skin, and cleanses from within, giving skin the squeaky clean feeling. However, it may be harsh and drying for people with sensitive skin, so do practice caution.
This is the most soothing of all exfoliants and helps treat dry, sensitive skin and removes dead skin gently. It nourishes sun-damaged and dry skin gently without overly drying it.
For basic recipe use 1 cup oatmeal (ground to a powder) + few Tbsp Milk/ Curd/ Honey + Splash of oil (optional) + fun add-in. Add in a bit of warm water to adjust the consistency.
Chickpea Flour/ Rice Flour/ Cornmeal
These again have gentle exfoliating properties. Growing up, Chickpea flour scrub (Ubtan) was the standard Sunday routine. The mix has Chickpea flour (1/2 cup) + Curd (few tbsp. as per the desired consistency) + Turmeric (1/2 tsp).
Apply generously on face, neck, arms, and leg, once dry rub vigorously to remove, which helps slough off dead skin, leaving the skin fresh and soft. In addition, for fun add-ins, add powdered citrus peel, almond meal, or lemon juice.
I hope these recipes are a good starting point for people wanting to experiment with the world of homemade scrubs. Go on, grab a jar, look into the pantry and the fridge. Have fun mixing and adding the fun add-ins, and enjoy a relaxing spa day at home. Revel in the soft, nourished feel of your skin, and the aura of a Superhero saving the planet.
Edited by love4wellness