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DIY Sugar Scrub Recipe: How To Make an Effective Natural Skin Exfoliant at Home

When it comes to pampering skin with the TLC it craves (and needs), body scrubs can’t be beat.


Of all the products that comprise the skincare kingdom, body scrubs are among my favorite. Lotions and hydrating creams are lovely, but when it comes to pampering skin with the TLC it craves (and needs), body scrubs can’t be beat. One of the easiest to make is the sugar scrub, a DIY skincare staple that buffs away dead skin cells, bacteria, dirt, and other debris to reveal unbelievably soft skin. Read on for the 411 on body scrubs, including how to DIY a highly effective homemade sugar exfoliant

What’s a body scrub?

A body scrub is a physical exfoliant used to remove dead skin cells, excess oil (sebum), dirt, bacteria, pollutants, grime, and other debris from the skin. When these congest the skin, your complexion can look tired, lifeless, and dull. Pores can also become clogged, which can quickly lead to acne flares. That’s why body scrubs are so popular — these pampering skincare products are made with tiny particles that exfoliate and polish the skin to reveal a velvety-soft and blemish-free complexion. 

Are there any benefits to using body scrubs?

There are numerous benefits to using a body scrub. Among these are:

Skin Rejuvenation 

Exfoliating with a body scrub buffs the outermost layer of the skin, revealing the fresh, soft, and smooth skin underneath. 

Improved Absorption

When your skin isn’t clogged with bacteria, dirt, and grime, skincare products are able to penetrate deep into dermal layers where they can really work their magic. 

Healthier Circulation

The gentle massage-like motions used to apply body scrub help to improve circulation and promote lymphatic drainage. These soothing motions also encourage relaxation and help to relieve stress and tension. 

Reduction of Ingrown Hairs

These painful, angry bumps that occur after shaving and waxing can take weeks to heal. Using a gentle body scrub helps to both prevent and draw out ingrown hairs. 

Clear Pores 

Buffing away dead skin cells with a body scrub is essential for unclogging pores, preventing breakouts, and deep cleansing the skin. 

More Self-Confidence

When your skin looks as good as it feels, you feel more confident about showing it off. Whether at the office or the class reunion, you’ll feel more at ease without blemishes on your chest or around your chin. 

What’s a sugar scrub?

Simply put, sugar scrubs are a type of body scrub (or body polish) that relies on sugar granules to physically exfoliate dead skin cell buildup. Like other types of physical scrubs, sugar scrubs can help create the appearance of smoother, glowing skin — and who doesn’t want that? Plus, you can mix in a few drops of essential oils like peppermint oil, almond oil, or grapeseed oil to get a double-dose of skincare goodness in your DIY body scrub. Just keep in mind that generally, you shouldn’t exfoliate with a physical scrub (or even a mechanical scrub via chemical exfoliation) every day. Consider it a sweet treat for your skin that you use only a few times a week. Of course, everyone is different, so it’s crucial to listen to your skin. If, after exfoliating, you notice that it’s irritated, consider reducing the length of time you spend scrubbing or perhaps swap from a sugar scrub to a salt scrub. 

Hold up — salt?

Yup, you can also exfoliate with a salt scrub. These body scrubs, however, are more abrasive than sugar scrubs because salt particles typically have sharper edges than sugar particles. People with sensitive skin should avoid salt scrubs. That said, if you’re on a mission to hydrate the rough skin on your elbows, legs, hands, feet, or any other areas of the body that are extra dry, a salt scrub just might be the way to go.   

What are the benefits of using sugar in your body scrubs?

Sugar granules are softer and less abrasive than other exfoliants (think salt, walnut shell, etc.), This, however, isn’t the only advantage to using a sugar exfoliant. Here are several others:

How do you use a sugar scrub?

Using a sugar scrub is fairly simple.

  • Shower five to 10 minutes in lukewarm water to soften skin. 
  • Turn water off and apply sugar scrub to skin in circular motions, starting at your feet and moving up towards your shoulders and down your arms.
  • Maintain gentle pressure, ensuring not to scrub too hard.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • Hop out of the shower and apply a nutrient-rich body lotion while skin is still damp. 
  • Repeat 3x per week (or as needed).

How To DIY Your Own Sugar Scrub

There are several DIY body scrub recipes you can make for yourself and others. (Sugar body scrubs are a great gift idea for both birthday and Christmas gifts. Just combine your bestie’s favorite essential oils with some granulated sugar, plop it in a mason jar or other airtight container, and top with a festive bow. It’s a homemade gift she’s sure to love.)

Stuck on which homemade sugar scrub recipe to try first? Here are a few to get you started.  

Aloe Vera Sugar Scrub

Aloe vera is incredibly soothing. Combine it with sugar for soft and moisturized skin. Simply mix a little aloe vera gel with a cup of sugar and you’re good to scrub. 

Brown Sugar Scrub

Dealing with especially dry skin? Skip the cane sugar and combine brown sugar and honey instead. The brown sugar sloughs away impurities, while the raw honey soothes the skin. Plus, both are natural humectants, so they help preserve and lock in skin’s moisture. To make this scrub, mix a cup of brown sugar with a little honey in a mixing bowl. If your skin is extra-dry, add one cup coconut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil. Bonus: This makes a lip scrub, since all of the ingredients are edible!

Lemon-Sugar Scrub

Lemon’s clarifying properties and olive oil’s ability to nourish and soothe will leave skin feeling pampered and ultra clean. Combine two tablespoons of sugar, a spoonful of olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Apply them to skin and allow to soak for 30 minutes before washing off with warm water. 

The Final Word

Whether you’re prone to acne bumps, ingrown hairs, or hyperpigmentation, a homemade sugar scrub can help. These deliciously sweet scrubs gently exfoliate the skin to buff away impurities and reveal a silky-smooth complexion. Just keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different, so reactions to sugar granules will vary from person to person. Listen to your skin — if it’s red, angry, and irritated following a skincare treatment, use something else. If, despite your best efforts, all else fails, contact a dermatologist. A homemade body scrub has many benefits, but for severely irritated skin, a certified specialist is your best route.

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