If you're looking for a way to pamper your skin and give it a healthy glow, making your own sugar scrub is a great option. Sugar scrubs are easy to make with affordable ingredients AND leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. What more could you want in a beauty DIY, right?
Why Use a Sugar Scrub?
If you're looking to exfoliate and rejuvenate your skin, a sugar scrub is just what your skin needs. Here's why:
Affordable + Eco-friendly
Not only is making your own sugar scrub a fun and easy DIY project, but it's also a more affordable and eco-friendly option than buying pre-made scrubs. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what ingredients are going on your skin, without any harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances.
One of the best things about making your own sugar scrub is that you can customize it to your liking. You can choose your favorite carrier oil, such as coconut, jojoba, grapeseed, or almond, and add essential oils for a relaxing or invigorating scent. You can also experiment with different types of sugar, such as white, brown, or coconut sugar, depending on your skin's needs.
DIY Scrub Ingredients: Picking the Right Sugar
When it comes to making a sugar scrub, the type of sugar you use is important. Different types of sugar have different textures and levels of exfoliation, so it's important to choose the right one for the job.
Regular white sugar is a popular choice for body scrubs because it's coarse enough to exfoliate dead skin cells but not so rough that it will damage your skin. Brown sugar is a finer-grained sugar that's great for facial scrubs because it's gentler on the skin.
If you're looking for something a little more exotic, try using coconut sugar. It's a natural exfoliant that's rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a great choice for all-over body scrubs. It has a slightly coarser texture than regular sugar, so it's perfect for those who want a more intense exfoliation.
Another option is raw sugar, which is coarser than regular sugar and great for use on rough patches of skin like elbows, knees, and feet. It's also a good choice for those with sensitive skin because it's less likely to cause irritation.
Ultimately, the type of sugar you choose will depend on your personal preference and the area of your body you're exfoliating. Experiment with different types of sugar to find the one that works best for you.
What You Need to Make Homemade Sugar Scrubs
In order to make a sugar scrub, you will need a few key ingredients. The base ingredients are necessary for any sugar scrub, while the optional add-ins can be used to customize your scrub to your liking.
Base Scrub Ingredients
The basic formula for a scrub is what makes it effective at exfoliating and moisturizing your skin. Here are the ingredients:
—1 cup sugar
—½ cup oil
Choose the right sugar: The sugar is the exfoliating agent in the scrub. It removes dead skin cells and leaves your skin feeling smooth. You can use regular sugar, brown sugar, or cane sugar. Epsom or sea salt will also work, but I find they can be a bit harsh, especially if your skin is sensitive. Different types of sugar have different levels of coarseness. For a gentle exfoliation, use white sugar. For a more intense scrub, use raw or brown sugar. You can also mix different types of sugar to get the consistency you want.
Experiment with carrier oils: The oil is what moisturizes your skin. Pretty much any kind goes: olive, sweet almond, sesame, grapeseed, or coconut. The smell of olive oil is overpowering to me, so I use either grapeseed or sweet almond. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils and provide moisture to the skin. Coconut oil is a popular choice because of its moisturizing properties, but you can also use jojoba, grapeseed, almond, or avocado oil. Each oil has different benefits for the skin, so experiment to find the one that works best for you.
Customize the Scrub for Your Skin Type
Here are some tips on how to customize these sugar scrubs for different skin types:
For dry skin
Add more moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, almond oil, or avocado oil to the sugar scrub recipe. You can also use a smaller grain of sugar, like brown sugar, for a gentler exfoliation.
For oily skin
Use a finer grain of sugar, like white sugar, to avoid over-exfoliating and irritating the skin. You can also add astringent ingredients like lemon juice or tea tree oil to help control oil production.
For sensitive skin
Avoid using essential oils or fragrances in your sugar scrub, as they can be irritating. Stick to gentle ingredients like oatmeal or honey, and use a very light touch when applying the scrub to avoid causing redness or inflammation.
For acne-prone skin
For mature skin
Use a finer grain of sugar and add in some anti-aging ingredients like vitamin E oil, rosehip oil, or aloe vera. You can also use a gentle exfoliating ingredient like oatmeal to help brighten and smooth the skin.
Remember to always patch test a small area of skin before using a new scrub recipe all over your body, and be gentle when applying the scrub to avoid causing irritation or damage to the skin.
Optional Scrub Extras
Now the fun part is mixing and matching the extras in your homemade sugar scrub recipe. These let you customize your sugar scrub to your liking.
You can add as many extras as you like, but I'd recommend starting with just a small amount to make sure your skin doesn't become irritated.
Adding Additional Scrub Exfoliants
1. Coffee Sugar Scrub: Add ½ cup of coffee grounds and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
2. Mocha Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder and ¼ cup of coffee grounds.
3. Charcoal and Bentonite Clay Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of bentonite clay and 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal.
4. Tea Tree and Baking Soda Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of baking soda and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil.
5. Coconut Milk and Lime Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of powdered coconut milk and the zest of 1 lime.
6. Oatmeal and Honey Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup ground oats and 2 tablespoons of honey.
Adding Essential Oils
Examples: Essential oils not only add fragrance to your sugar scrub, but they also have therapeutic properties that can benefit your skin. Lavender oil is calming and soothing, while peppermint oil is refreshing and invigorating. Be sure to use high-quality, pure essential oils and dilute them properly.
7. Citrus Vanilla: Add 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and 5 drops of vanilla essential oil (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
9. Peppermint & Eucalyptus Sugar Scrub: Add a few drops of both essential oils for a great stress reliever.
10. Vanilla Lavender Sugar Scrub: Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a few drops of lavender essential oil.
11. Peaches and Cream Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of diced peaches and a few drops of vanilla essential oil.
12. Orange Creamsicle Sugar Scrub: Add the juice and zest of 1 orange and a few drops of vanilla essential oil.
13. Lavender Mint Sugar Scrub: Add a few drops of both lavender and peppermint essential oils.
Adding Herbs + Spices
Examples: These can add a natural scent and exfoliation. Try fresh or dried roses, lavender, chamomile, rosemary, and calendula.
14. Rose Petal Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of dried rose petals and a few drops of rose essential oil.
15. Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
16. Gingerbread Sugar Scrub: Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
17. Apple Cinnamon Sugar Scrub: Add ½ cup of applesauce and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
18. Rosemary Lemon Sugar Scrub: Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary and the zest of 1 lemon.
Adding Beauty Boosters
19. Brown Sugar & Warm Honey Sugar Scrub: Replace the oil with ¼ cup of warm honey. Add 1–2 tablespoons of oil to get the right consistency.
20. Chocolate Cherry Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder and ¼ cup of diced cherries.
21. Lemon Mint Sugar Scrub: Add the juice and zest of 1 lemon and a few drops of peppermint essential oil.
22. Cucumber Melon Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of diced cucumber and ¼ cup of mashed melon.
23. Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub: Add the juice and zest of 1 lime and a few drops of coconut fragrance oil.
24. Strawberry Kiwi Sugar Scrub: Add ¼ cup of diced strawberries and 1 mashed kiwi.
25. Orange Ginger Sugar Scrub: Add the zest from 1 orange and 1 teaspoon of grated ginger for an energy boost.
Making your own sugar scrub at home is easy, and you don't need a lot of equipment to get started. Here's what you'll need:
—Whisk or hand mixer
—Jars or mason jars
You may already have most of these items in your kitchen. If you don't have jars or mason jars, you can use any airtight container to store your sugar scrub. Make sure the jars are clean and dry before you fill them with your sugar scrub.
When choosing your mixing bowl, make sure it's big enough to hold all of your ingredients. A glass or metal bowl is ideal, as plastic can absorb the scent of essential oils.
A whisk or hand mixer will help you mix your ingredients together thoroughly. If you have a food processor, you can use it to blend your sugar scrub ingredients together quickly and easily.
Make a Sugar Scrub in 3 Simple Steps
Making a sugar scrub is a simple and fun DIY project that can leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. Follow these easy steps to create your own sugar scrub:
Step 1 | Mixing the base ingredients
The base ingredients for a sugar scrub are sugar and oil. You can use any type of sugar you like, but white granulated sugar is the most common choice. As for the oil, you can use coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, or any other type of carrier oil.
To make the sugar scrub, simply mix 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of oil together in a bowl until they are well combined. You can adjust the ratio of sugar to oil to suit your preference, but a 2:1 ratio of sugar to oil is a good place to start.
Step 2 | Adding optional add-ins
Once you have mixed the base ingredients, you can add in any optional add-ins to customize your sugar scrub. Some popular add-ins include:
—Essential oils for fragrance and therapeutic benefits
—Vitamin E oil for extra skin nourishment
—Dried herbs or flowers for exfoliation and aromatherapy
—Citrus zest for a refreshing scent
To add these ingredients, simply mix them into the sugar and oil mixture until they are evenly distributed.
Step 3 | Storing the sugar scrub
Once you have made your sugar scrub, you can store it in an airtight container. Mason jars or plastic containers with lids work well for this purpose.
Keep your sugar scrub in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Your sugar scrub should last for several weeks, but if you notice any changes in color or smell, it's time to toss it and make a fresh batch.
Using Your Sugar Scrub
When using your sugar scrub, be gentle and avoid applying too much pressure. Use circular motions to massage the scrub onto your skin, focusing on areas that need extra attention. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry with a towel.
Using a sugar scrub once or twice a week can help improve the texture and appearance of your skin, leaving it soft, smooth, and glowing. So go ahead and indulge in a little self-care with your very own homemade sugar scrub!
Want to Go Beyond the Basic Scrub?
These ideas should keep you busy for a while, but if you're looking for more fun scrub-making adventures, try sugar scrub cubes, moisturizing scrub bars, or a whipped sugar scrub recipe with mega moisturizing shea butter. Or switch things up with a coffee or salt scrub.
Sugar Scrubs FAQ
If you're new to sugar scrubs or have some questions about them, we've got you covered. Here are some frequently asked questions:
What is a sugar scrub?
A sugar scrub is a mixture of sugar and oil that is used to exfoliate and moisturize the skin. It's typically used in the shower or bath and can be used on the face, body, and lips.
Do I need to refrigerate leftover scrub?
Yes, any scrub that contains food-based ingredients, like lemon zest or milk powder, should be refrigerated.
Can I use a sugar scrub on my face?
It depends on the ingredients. Since facial skin is incredibly delicate and can tear easily, you should only use fine sugar, like white or castor sugar, and keep other coarse ingredients to a minimum. Here's a sugar recipe to try on your face.
If I want to give these as a gift, do I need a preservative?
Yes, a good preservative is essential if you want your sugar scrub recipe to last more than a few days. That being said, any scrub that contains food-based ingredients should be used within 2–3 days, even if it contains a preservative.
Where can I get those jars?
They're little Weck jars, which you can buy here.
Will lemon make the skin burn or sting?
It's highly acidic, so a little goes a long way. If you have sensitive skin, then cut back to 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and adjust accordingly. Also, since lemon makes the skin photosensitive [source], don't go out in the sun after using—and always wear sunscreen when you do.
Citrus Vanilla Sugar Scrub Recipe
- Small bowl
- Jar or container with a lid
- Add sugar to a small bowl and pour in the oil until you have a crumbly texture that’s not too runny to scoop with your hand.
- Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Store in a jar or container with a lid.
- Coconut Ginger: Use coconut oil for the base and add grated ginger.
- Orange Ginger: Add orange zest and grated ginger for an energy boost.
- Cucumber & Melon: Puree cucumber and melon together and add to mixture.
- Brown Sugar & Warm Honey: Replace the oil with ¼ cup of warm honey. Add 1–2 tablespoons of oil to get the right consistency.
- Lavender & Chamomile: Add a few drops of lavender and chamomile essential oils for a soothing scrub before bedtime.
- Peppermint & Eucalyptus: Add a few drops of both essential oils for a great stress reliever.
Kim K, et al. Phototoxicity: its mechanism and animal alternative test methods. Toxicol Res. 2015.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has more than 20 years of practice experience. 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.162