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April 5, 2004

Yummy Body Scrub Recipes
Jennifer Tanner, Esthetician

The point of this article is to show you how to make your own spa-quality scrubs for a fraction of the price. The good thing about making your own is you customize the fragrance and the ingredients that best suit your needs and moods. you use a liquid body wash, chances are you apply it with some sort of loofah, mesh scrubbie thing or wash cloth. This is great for everyday and does offer you a small amount of exfoliation. These recipes are good for about once a week and offer a lot more exfoliation and moisturizing benefits. By scrubbing off the top layer of dead skin cells your skin will feel smoother, your moisturizer will penetrate easier and you will help prevent annoying ingrown hairs and body breakouts. The act of rubbing in circular motions, towards the heart also increases circulation.

Granular exfoliant options:
Salt: You can use sea salt, kosher salt, epsom salts or just plain old table salt. I like to use table salt because it is cheaper and smaller grains mean you don't have to grind it yourself. Larger chunks of salt have irregular edges and are too scratchy for the skin so if you decide to use a larger salt be sure to grind it in a blender, food processor or coffee mill. All salts will have detoxifying and muscle-relaxing properties. The problem with salt is it will sting if you have any minor cuts or scratches you are not aware of. For this reason, never use a salt scrub after shaving, it will not feel nice! Also, in general the act of shaving is exfoliating (removing dead skin cells) so if you exfoliate before you shave you will get a closer shave and cut down on skin irritation. Also, the oil from the scrub can be used instead of shaving cream and will lubricate the blades of your razor. If you do not have sensitive skin you can use a sugar scrub after shaving if you want to keep the oil on your skin and skip moisturizer.

Sugar: You can use brown sugar, white (granulated) sugar or natural cane sugar. White sugar is probably the cheapest but will work the same as natural cane sugar. Brown sugar is gentler and has a warmer, yummier fragrance. Sugar scrubs in general are gentler than salt scrubs and don't really have muscle-relaxing qualities but the act of scrubbing in a circular motion does increase circulation.

Coffee: The information I obtained about coffee as a topical scrub surprised me. Coffee is granular and feels nice on the skin but the caffeine has added benefits. Applied topically coffee helps to redistribute fat cells and decrease the formation of cellulite. It also acts as a vasorestrictor, tightening and shrinking blood vessels thereby helping eliminate varicose veins. It has been used for years in spas in Hawaii and on the coast of Bali. Others: Oatmeal is very gentle and won't aggressively exfoliate but it is great if you have dry, itchy skin. Flax seed is also very lubricating for dry skin. Crushed almonds are very exfoliating as well but may be too much for sensitive skin. Yogurt and milk contain lactic acid which will dissolve skin cells and act as a non-granular exfoliant.

Moisturizing Options:
Once you pick your grain of choice you are ready to add in your oil. You will add enough oil to turn your grains into the perfect slushy mixture. Not too oily but not too dry, either. The mixture may separate in between uses so be sure to stir gently before you apply it. You can use many kinds of oil, including jojoba oil, safflower oil, apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, even olive or vegetable oil. I would not recommend mineral oil (baby oil) because this will not penetrate into the skin like the other oils will. Mineral oil is pore-clogging and once it evaporates your skin may be left looking dryer than before you used it. Once you massage the mixture into your skin and rinse, the grains will be gone and the oil will make your skin soft and hydrated. If you don't like the feel of oil on your skin you can dip a loofah (one on a stick will work be the most convenient) into the oil then into your grain mixture. (you will have already put your fragrance and/or herbs or flowers into the grains) This will impart only a minimal amount of oil onto your skin but still be effective. If your skin is dry or itchy, avocado is very soothing and moisturizing and can be applied alone, mashed into a paste or added to your scrub. Save the pit for a natural massage tool to soothe achey or tense muscles.

Fragrance Options:
Your fragrance options are pretty much unlimited. You can use essential (aromatherapy) oils for an added emotional benefit or your favorite perfume oil. Perfume oils are too irritating for the face but are fine for the body. Possible oils:
Vanilla: Great especially in the coffee or brown sugar scrub.
Orange, lime, tangerine or lemon: For an uplifting effect.
Rosemary, eucalyptus or peppermint: For clearing out the sinuses and stimulating the body
Cinnamon or clove: For improving circulation and adding a spicy kick to your scrub.
Rose, jasmine or ylang-ylang: for a romantic floral scrub.
Geranium: For balancing your mood.
Lavender: For promoting relaxation.
You can mix and match and create your own personal favorite blend!

Herb and flower options:
Adding herbs and flowers to your scrub will make it look more attractive, add additional exfoliation and can have other benefits as well. For example:
Shredded ginger will aid exfoliation.
Linden flower
is great for soothing frayed nerves.
Comfrey is good for those with minor skin irritations.
Yarrow is a rnusle-soothing Chinese herb.
Lemon peel helps alleviate lethargy.
Orange peel or St. John's Wort helps ease minor depression. Lavender flowers will help promote relaxation. Ginseng will help energize and increase circulation.

Other Add-Ins:
Bentonite or kaolin (Cosmetic-grade) clay will help detoxify and purify the skin as will seaweed. Honey will add moisture and shredded soap will add eliminate the need for using additional soap either before or after your scrub. Baking soda will add a pleasant fizziness and help clarify the skin.

Saving Money:
Scrubs can be pretty costly. Usually scrubs come in nice glass or plastic jars which add greatly to the price. You can find your own decorative jars and definitely if you have a scrub in a nice jar at home just rinse it and reuse it with your own exfoliating concoction!

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