I can’t remember when I first got into making a body scrub, but I do, very clearly, remember why. Every so often I like to pamper myself and include a body scrub in my day, most frequently when I would shave my legs. I would use the scrub from knees to heels and found my skin to be smooth, supple, and hydrated. To this day, I still have a good body scrub in my arsenal, but its formula has changed over time. I still reap the benefits of using a body scrub either way, but the change in ingredients yield different sensations and results.
I believe I started experimenting with different formulations when I was doing my research on coconut oil early on. I saw something that said coconut oil makes a great shaving cream (which I didn’t really believe). But I gave it the benefit of the doubt and started with a really simple recipe. It was based on other things I’ve found but of course I put my own spin on it. I used equal part sugar and solid coconut oil, adding a droplet or two of honey, a few drops of tea tree oil, and a half teaspoon of cinnamon. Now, this was the era when I tended to try things without doing hefty research as I do now. But I’ll make up for it by listing some skin benefits of sugar and cinnamon here (references listed after this article):
Like honey, sugar is a natural humectant. A humectant draws moisture from the atmosphere and into its environment – the skin. Sugar is also a natural source of glycolic acid. Glycolic acid helps in loosening old skin cells for removal to reveal new, healthier skin cells. Using sugar as an exfoliant is best for sensitive areas of skin because it is less abrasive than salt, another natural exfoliant. Sugar granules are round, thus providing a gentle scrub. Cinnamon is probably responsible for the supple appearance of my skin, as it improves blood circulation at the skin’s surface. Cinnamon has also been found to have some antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it an effective mild acne treatment.
Finding all this information, I wonder why I never used sugar and cinnamon for more than just my legs and feet. But knowing me and my DIY tendencies, I’ll probably experiment anyway. Back then, though, I used the scrub before proceeding to shave just to truly test coconut oil as an effective shaving cream. On its own, I think it would best suit someone with less hair to shave, but it does provide good enough slip for a razor glide over. I did use a cheap shaving cream over it the first go-round. Later, I decided to exfoliate after shaving as to leave my skin smooth and soft. I let a rag soak in hot water while I exfoliated, and would steam my skin afterwards by ringing the rag and leaving it damp. The sugar and cinnamon granules are water soluble so rinsing them off (or wiping with a damp rag) sufficed.
As nice as this all-natural and easy-to-make scrub was, there was the problem of shelf-life. I didn’t have as much an issue with preventing rancidity as I did with preserving the integrity of the mixture. As we know, coconut oil is a solid at cooler temperatures and melts when heated. Before I moved, I could get away with using coconut oil because it was typically cooler anywhere in the house. Living in the south, however, doesn’t maintain the same circumstances. Alongside this, we also know that sweet things attract not-so-sweet critters. So, making and using this particular scrub in large quantities isn’t very smart. This is the part where I “revamped” my scrub, as I’ve said to others.
Pink & Purple
My most recent body scrub recipe uses Himalayan Pink Salt as the exfoliant and my whipped Shea as the oily base. Not only does this solve the issue of rancidity, but I don’t have to worry about cooling my scrub before use since Shea Butter has a higher melting point. I’m not sure how I first heard about Himalayan salt, but I do know I’ve been meaning to mess around with it for some time. When I did my research on it, it sounded very similar to clay, namely bentonite or rhassoul; the main reason these clays are great detoxifiers is due to their ionic nature. Bentonite clay, for example, is a negatively charged clay, ready to attach its anions (negatively charged atoms) to cations (positively charged atoms), A.K.A such toxins on our skin. Similarly, Himalayan salt undergoes this exchange while leaving behind trace minerals that our skin will thank us for.
Himalayan salt is probably best known for its pretty color used to decorate a space, typically as a lamp. However, a rock lamp can actually assist in purifying air quality by attracting moisture from the environment. Referring back to ions (charged atoms), the oxygen atom in water is an anion. Salts typically are composed of sodium and chlorine, where sodium is the cation. Thus, the salt lamp is quite literally filtering out the air we breathe by attracting our oxygen, and only holding onto the impurities in the air (source: my chemistry class). Aside from all the science, Himalayan salt is also best known for its therapeutic qualities and is often included in a warm bath.
I have yet to take a salt water bath, but the more I read that “it’s like bathing in the ancient Himalayan seas at home”, the more enticed I become. Thus far, I only have my body scrub. Now that I’m more accustomed to wearing more cosmetics on my skin (specifically, sunscreen), I don’t mind the increased abrasiveness. I don’t exfoliate much more than my face very often, so I basically need it anyway. The proportions of my recipe are still the same, where I use equal parts fine grain salt to oil base, but I also added a few drops of lavender essential oil. When I first made this, not only did it smell divine, but it just looked nice. It made me feel wealthy and I bought my salt from Ross. When you mix everything together, you’re left with this pretty, pink concoction.
I tested it on the back of my hand initially to see how I like the coarseness, and I did feel the difference with comparison to sugar. Though some may, I wouldn’t advise using this on the face because that skin is delicate. Using it on places with tougher skin would be best; if you’d like a coarser exfoliant, use medium grain salt instead. Later in the week, I tested it on my legs, as I’ve always done (minus the shaving aspect). I used a bar soap to cleanse the skin, and followed with my scrub after blotting away some of the water from rinsing. I had a bowl of hot water sitting near me with a hand towel soaking in it; once I finished lathering the scrub, I rung the towel out and steamed my leg as before. I have to mention – I am obligated to mention – the incredible scent that is released into the atmosphere when doing this. If you’re like me and you love the smell of lavender, you will enjoy this so much. A part of me wanted to do this a second time in one sitting because it was just that nice.
Immediately after, my skin was smooth to the touch, and just felt a little more alive than the rest of me in that moment. I followed up with another experimental creation I was testing as well, and put on some fuzzy socks afterwards. The experiment is something of a product from trying my hand at emulsions, but I’ll save that for another rambling. I haven’t given my new scrub a name yet, but I feel it deserves one. I plan to use it again (and again, and again) in the future because it’s too good to let it waste away. I’m also pretty sure I’ll end up making a lip scrub with sugar as well. I’ll come forward and say I did a mini-test with the salt scrub on my lips and I have two things to say. Firstly, avoid letting this hit your taste buds at all costs like the plague, a message from a fool who took their lessons from experience. Secondly, the scrub left a weird tingly sensation, more akin to a mild sting or burn. I wasn’t sure how to interpret it, but I’d like not to repeat it. In short, Himalayan salt does not make a great lip scrub. I think I’ll stick to using my luxury scrub on the tougher, less vulnerable parts of my body for now. It’s been great thus far, and I see more magic in my future.
Links & References
- Sugar Scrub – The Skincare Benefits of Sugar
- Sugar Scrub Benefits & Uses
- 7 Ways to Use Glycolic Acid in Your Skincare Regimen
- Cinnamon Oil: 10 Proven Benefits and Uses
- Benefits of Ground Cinnamon to The Skin
- 8 Ways Cinnamon is Amazing For Your Beauty Routine
- 9 Ways Cinnamon Can Benefit Your Skin
- The Science Behind Clay
- Himalayan Salt Bath: Refresh Your Body
- Pink Himalayan Salt Benefits That Make it Superior to Table Salt
- 10 Incredible Ways Himalayan Salt Will Change Your Life
Which exfoliant interests you most? Are there other exfoliants unmentioned that you like?