Scrub-a-Dub: DIY Body Scrub

Spa scrub treatment

Image via Saffron Las Vegas

I love that glowing, tingling feeling I get after some me time in those havens of hedonism also known as day spas? It’s addictive bliss, I tell you. But it’s pricey bliss — which is probably what prevents me from indulging in a massage or body scrub treatment everyday.

There are actually not a lot of things that would stop me or you from getting some of that gorgeous pampering at home. Of course it’s not quite the same level of decadence as getting it in your favorite haven of hedonism, but it should tide you over until your next spa splurge. I’m all for the DIY spa experience, whether it’s creating a spa-like ambiance, learning about massage, or — as I’ll discuss today — making your own body scrubs out of pantry items.

Bali Spa Scrub Components. Via Alam Jimbaran.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. All it took was a bout of serious scrub craving, some research, and an inventory of the kitchen, and boom! — homemade scrubs! They’re all just combination of three elements:

1. A gently abrasive exfoliating element. This will provide the scrubbing action, such as salt or sugar. This is what will slough of the dead skin cells and boost circulation, which are what create that tingly afterglow. Look around the kitchen and see the possibilities in the things you find there. Test some on the back of your hand to check if it’s not too rough.

Here are some suggested ingredients:

  • Sugar. White sugar will do, but brown sugar has an awesome, subtle fragrance to boot, plus some additional nutrients.
  • Salt. This has the added benefit of being a natural antiseptic and detoxifier, so it kills germs and draws out impurities from your skin.
  • Coffee grounds. Coffee is an antioxidant and the skin can absorb some of that magic. I also hear that the caffeine does other wonders too, like increases blood flow, improve skin texture and minimize the appearance of cellulite.
  • Oatmeal. This one is very gentle and is great for sensitive skin.
  • Ground rice or beans
  • Ground nuts. This seems like such a waste – I would rather use the almonds and walnuts for actual eating. But if nuts are cheap and plentiful where you are, then go for it.

Brown sugar makes a good scrub. Image via Rent the Runway on Campus.

2. A moisturizing element. This provides nourishment for the skin and aids in keeping it soft and supple. Look for liquids or soft, creamy items.

  • Olive oil. A lot of skin care products use olive oil as their main ingredient. It has vitamin E which is a wonderful antioxidant. You don’t need to add too much, a couple of tablespoons to every cup of exfoliant will do the trick.
  • Coconut Oil. This one’s another one of those wonder oils which have tons of nourishing and healing properties.
  • Avocado. It’s a creamy, buttery fruit, and rich it all sorts of nutrients. So if you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself by not using it in a salad or some other dish, feel free to throw it in your scrub mix.
  • Honey. This gives you very light moisturization. This is perfect if you want to avoid feeling too greasy.
  • Milk. This is said to be Cleopatra’s beauty secret — she bathed in it. Charlize Theron as Snow White’s evil stepmother did it too in this scene from Snow White and the Huntsman. The only downside to using milk is that it doesn’t keep, so any scrub you make with it will have to be good for a single use only.

3. Scent. Olfactory pleasure is a key element in the spa experience. This may be unnecessary if your scrub or moisture elements, such as the coffee or honey, already have great fragrances. It is also said that certain scents evoke certain moods — lavender, for example, relaxes you and contributes to a good night’s rest. You can use essential oils to add this element to your scrub, but I like to stick to the readily available, garden (or kitchen) variety scents.

  • Cocoa. Who doesn’t love chocolate? A teeny pinch goes a long way in releasing those feel-good endorphins into your system.
  • Citrus zests. Your skin would thank you too for the Vitamin C, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
  • Herbs. If you’ve got rosemary, lavender, or lemongrass growing in your garden, add them to your scrub.
  • Spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves — raid your spice rack! These would add a dash of the heady and exotic.

Image via Occupy Monsanto

So here’s the basic equation again:
Body scrub = gentle abrasive + moisturizer + scent.

Mix or shake together in a jar. If your using oils, you’re looking for a clumpy, semi-moist. If using any other moisturizer, then it can be more saturated. It’s not rocket science. Winging it is the way to go. It’s all about finding what feels good for you. Just combine 1 or 2 ingredients from each category, put them in a jar, and keep in the bathroom for lovely after-shower body treats. Needless to say, if you’re allergic to any of these foods, then don’t use them as scrub ingredients.

Here are some yummy scrub ideas.

Orange dreamsicle sugar scrub. Via In Between Laundry.

Lemon Sugar Body Scrub. Via The Sweetest Occasion.

Lavander and Coffee Scrub. Via Flickr user Marju Randmer.

Body scrub made with salt, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and olive oil. Via Farmers Market Online.

Spiced Chai Sugar Scrub. Via In Between Laundry.

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