Give your friends and loved the ones an awesome homemade gift this holiday season that brings the spa home — i.e., an all-natural body scrub that smells fabulous!
Exfoliating scrubs are full of several health and beauty benefits that many people don’t realize. They boost your circulation and also stimulate your lymphatic system, which is especially great this time of year as a way of boosting your immunity naturally. Because dead skin cells get sloughed away when you exfoliate, scrubs also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and are sometimes helpful in preventing acne from forming. The oils in them also leave the skin feeling supple and moist. And once you add in essential oils, you have aromatherapeutic benefits, too!
Plus, they’re very easy and inexpensive to make. All you need is some oil, salt or sugar, and essential oil — all of which are available at your local natural foods store.
Whipping up a batch takes just a few minutes and the best part is that you can then divide it into several jars for gift giving, which makes checking off your list so much easier!
Check out how easy it is to whip up an awesome, all-natural body exfoliating scrub.
How to Make a Natural Body Scrub
Before getting started, you’ll want a container to put your scrub in. You can use a sterilized left-over glass jar, but do remember it is prone to breakage, especially when handled with wet, slippery hands! Best choice is to use a plastic PET jar like these ones sold here on Amazon. Unlike regular plastic, PET doesn’t react with essential oils, so definitely use this special kind of plastic if you plan on making an aromatherapeutic body scrub. Otherwise, you could get away with a regular plastic container if you leave the essential oils out. PET jars usually cost a little over $2 a jar and are sold in multi-packs of four, six, and more. Perfect for creating multiple scrubs!
(1) Fill your container with some salt or Turbinado sugar. But don’t fill it all the way. You need to leave some room to add the oil and optional ingredients, such as Vitamin E as a natural antioxidant (if you so desire). After eye-balling it to make sure you got the amount of salt or sugar about right, then pour it into a bowl. Break up any clumps with a spoon.
For an 8 oz. scrub, I usually use about 6 oz. + 2 tablespoons of sugar or salt. You can use a fine grain sea salt or a larger grain salt, such as Dead Sea salt, Epsom salt, or Himalayan salt. Really any salt works well, but some salts do have their advantages over others. For example, Dead Sea salt has a range or minerals in it, whereas Epsom salt is basically just sulfate and the mineral magnesium. Also, the finer the grain, the gentler it is on your skin.
For the pink grapefruit scrub featured above, I used a combination of a coarse-grained, pink Himalayan sea salt and fine-grained, white sea salt (about half of each).
Sometimes sugar is nicer in scrubs for those who intend to use them on their legs, especially after shaving; they won’t burn like a salt scrub will. Plus, they do lend a sweet smell to the scrub.
(2) Cover the salt or sugar with oil. Blend well. I add about 1/2 cup when making an 8 oz. scrub. My preferred oils to use are organic sunflower or almond oil. Both are very mildly scented, great for the skin, and absorb well. Olive oil is also great, but it’s a little thicker and sometimes has that distinctive scent that some may not enjoy as much. (But I love it when making a “Mediterranean” styled scrub with rosemary essential oil, though!) Avoid canola oil.
(3) Mix in essential oils. One of the most common essential oils used is lavender and it’s a great one to try if you’re just starting out with essential oils. It can also be blended easily with other oils, such as orange or bergamot. Other good scents to try that are especially festive for the holiday season are pink grapefruit (which is what I used for the scrub featured in the photo above), rosemary, and peppermint (see “DIY Peppermint Candy Cane Body Scrub“).
I usually use about 48 drops of essential oil per 8 oz. of scrub, but I may lessen that amount by one-half or even two-thirds if I’m making the scrub for an elderly person or a child — or if I’m using essential oils where less really is “more,” such as peppermint. Also, if I’m adding essential oils that aren’t typically used for skin care, such as cassia (from cinnamon bark), I may only add a couple of drops and round that out by using other oils that are well suited for skin care.
The most important thing is to always take into consideration that the oils are being applied to the skin, so focus on using skin friendly oils, especially when just starting out. And do be aware that some commonly used citrus essential oils, such as bergamot, orange, and grapefruit, can make the skin photosensitive, so avoiding sun exposure directly after using them is essential. (By the way, Bergaptene-free bergamot essential oil is also available, which doesn’t make the skin photosensitive.)
Whenever in doubt about which essential oils to use, my advice is to use a trusted source or to consult an aromatherapy book to make sure the ones you’re considering are appropriate for skin care. A few of my favorite aromatherapy books are Aromatherapy For Dummies by Kathi Keville, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia, and The Art of Aromatherapy: The Healing and Beautifying Properties of the Essential Oils of Flowers and Herbs by Robert Tisserand.
(4) If you’d like to add some natural antioxidants and preservatives to your body scrub, there are some great options. You may add in some Vitamin E for a natural antioxidant. Simply break open a few capsules of Vitamin E (up to 2 tsp.) and mix it in. To extend the shelf life of your scrub even further, grapefruit seed extract (use about 1/4 teaspoon), which is usually available at most natural grocery stores, and rosemary oleoresin extract (about 7 drops), which you usually need to order on-line from places, such as Amazon, are great options as natural preservatives for your scrub.
(5) Create a label with the date made, ingredients, instructions, and cautions when giving it as a gift. First, note the date and the fact it won’t last forever, especially if you didn’t add any natural antioxidants or preservatives (e.g., “Made with love on December 20, 2014. Use within a few months as this is an all-natural scrub.”)! Ingredients are also important to list in case someone has allergies. Also, instructions are helpful: “Apply to clean, damp skin in a circular motion. Rinse well. No need to follow with soap. Enjoy the moisturizing benefits of this natural scrub. Store out of direct sunlight in a dry location.”
Also, I like to include cautions, such as “Avoid exfoliating over cuts and delicate areas, irritated skin, or sunburned skin.” For the pink grapefruit scrub featured above, I’d also add “Avoid sun exposure for at least six hours after using this scrub as the essential oils in it cause photosensitivity.”
Finally, just so you know, exfoliation should be avoided if someone has certain health conditions, such as deep vein thombrosis, varicose veins, psoriasis, eczema, or is sick with a fever. So, modify the caution statement as needed if you think any of the above conditions are relevant.
I hope you try whipping up some homemade exfoliating scrubs this holiday season. They really do make impressive gifts and they’re fun to make! They’re also a great activity to do with kids or teens.
Copyright © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2012-2016. All rights reserved.
Photo © Karen Peltier.