Do you know what we love more than a skin-soothing scrub around here? That’s a trick question. Nothing! Since my skin is never not dry and flakey, I hauled my buns to the kitchen this morning and made a few sugar scrub bars to tide me over until spring.
If I’m being honest, I can be pretty lazy when it comes to making my own bath and body products. I always favor things that do double-duty which is why I love making scrub bars as opposed to your run of the mill sugar scrub.
And the fact that you use them in the shower is a total bonus. Zero in on flakes, condition rough patches and replenish moisture–without the hassle or the mess? Yes, please.
DIY Sugar Scrub Bars
LUSH, often considered the gold standard in bath products, may have been the first to start selling shower scrub bars, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do one better. These solid scrubees are chock full of nourishing butters, essential oils and sugar to moisturize and exfoliate at the same time.
Seriously, just take one in the shower and emerge with silky soft skin! But whereas their bars sell for 8-bucks a pop, I made six for just $20 in supplies and an hour of elbow grease.
They might look complicated but these scrub bars are actually pretty easy to whip up. All you need is an old bowl and a few super soothing ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil and brown sugar.
Of all the oils we use coconut oil is the most beneficial for skin as it’s been shown to improve the skin barrier, kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, improve wound healing and slow the effects of aging. But shea butter and cocoa butter aren’t too far behind thanks to their soothing and antioxidant benefits [source].
Meanwhile, brown sugar gently sloughs away dry skin without causing further irritation, which in turn allows the oils to sink into skin even further.
But you don’t have to follow this recipe to a T. If you have any of the following, free to add them to your bars or experiment until you find a recipe that works best for you:
Essential oils, such as lavender, chamomile, frankincense or rose geranium, are perfect for soothing inflammation (this is my favorite budget brand if you don’t want to break the bank)
Olive oil is anti-inflammatory and promotes healing
Sunflower oil can help repair the skin barrier
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant
Just note that adding liquid oils to your scrub bars will make them a little softer. Stick to just 1-2 tablespoons and it shouldn’t affect the consistency too much.
To make these bars, you’ll have to make the sugar stripes separately, then come back later and fill in with remaining butter mixture.
I poured my brown sugar into some silicone molds and let it cool until solid. Then I popped ‘em out and sliced them into little strips. I placed the strips back in the mold leaving space in between each one and covered them in the same butter mixture, this time without the sugar.
After cooling in the refrigerator for an hour or two, they were completely solid and ready for the shower.
How to Use Sugar Scrub Bars
Because the butters can soften quickly in hot water, I don’t use my scrub bars to exfoliate directly. Instead I generously apply the scrub to wet skin, then put the bar aside and use my hands to simultaneously exfoliate and moisturize.
You can make your scrubees last longer if you don’t let them linger under running water. And if you put your bar away so it can dry out between showers, you should be able to get 9 or 10 uses out of each one.
When you’re done, quickly rinse off the sugar scrub and pat skin dry. The oils will sink into skin so you don’t have to apply extra lotion afterwards. Just rub any excess butter into skin and let it absorb completely before getting dressed.
Oh, and I learned this the hard way, but the oils may coat the floor of the shower, making it very slick (another reason not to let your scrub bars sit in hot running water). Using your scrub bars sparingly and not letting them melt in the shower will help cut down on slip factor. But even so, be careful!
Sugar Scrub Bar FAQ
How long will these last outside of the refrigerator?
They should last for at least 6 months, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the consistency. Because they’re made of natural butters, they might soften in the summer, if left in a warm bathroom, or if allowed to sit in the sun.
You can always try adding more beeswax to make them firmer, but that will also make them a little more difficult to use since they won’t melt as easily.
Are these supposed to lather? Can I make them with soap?
No, these aren’t mean to lather like some sugar scrub bars. This is purely for sloughing away dry skin and replenishing moisture.
Unless you use a powdered soap such as SLS I’m not sure how to make scrub bars that lather.
Can sugar scrub bars get moldy or go bad?
If left to sit in the wet shower, these sugar scrub bars can start to mold. But by that time they’ll also be a soupy mess. It’s best to store these in a dry place when not in use.
Will the oils clog my drain?
Not if you use these bars a little at a time. By swiping them over damp skin and using your hands to do the exfoliating, you’re really not using that much oil to begin with. What little washes down the drain shouldn’t cause any issues.
Do I have to use brown sugar?
Nope! You can use caster sugar, regular ol’ white sugar, coffee grounds or even ground almonds instead.
Can I use sugar scrub bars on my face?
Yes, as long you use a gentle exfoliator (I recommend caster sugar or brown sugar).
Sugar Scrub Bars
- Silicone mold
- small microwave-safe bowl
For the Brown Sugar Stripes
Make the Brown Sugar Stripes
- Combine the cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil in a small bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until completely melted.
- Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. The mixture should be a loose sand texture and not overly soupy. Add more sugar if needed.
- Spoon the sugar mixture into your silicone molds (it might not be enough to fill all the cavities in your mold, which is fine since you'll be cutting it up and evenly splitting the stripes among all the cavities). Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until solid.
- Remove the solid sugar scrub bars from the mold and slice each one into approximately 6 segments. Place the segments back in the mold with plenty of space in between each one. Put the mold in the freezer while you make the shea butter mixture.
Make the Shea Butter Stripes
- Combine the remaining 3/4 cup cocoa butter, 3/4 cup shea butter and 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a clean bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until just barely melted. Add the honey and bergamot oil and stir to combine. (If the honey sinks to the bottom, keep stirring until the mixture begins to cool and come together.)
- Let the shea butter mixture cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove the mold from the freezer and pour the shea butter mixture into each of the cavities, making sure to cover and surround all of the sugar segments. Use your fingers to adjust the stripes should they start to shift. Let cool either on the counter or in the refrigerator.
- Remove the scrub bars from the mold and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Rina Mary Allawh, M.D., a dermatologist who performs adult and pediatric medical dermatology, skin cancer treatment and cosmetic dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.307