{from scratch holidays} scrub-a-dub-dub

The Lemon Thyme hand scrub I recently made for the Food Swap. Photo by Corrie W., a regular Saratoga swapper.

Recently I made two types of body scrubs for FSC’s Saratoga Food Swap*. If you want to save money by cutting out luxury items without losing the luxury, this is an easy and cheap way to pamper yourself. Spend a tiny bit extra for some fab packaging and you have yourself a really delightful, super appreciated, fancy-pants gift.

This wasn’t my first time making body scrubs. My first trial was when I made a peppermint scrub last year. I used it strictly for my feet and kept it in a glass jar in the shower. Occasionally, at the end of a shower, I’d sit on the side of the tub and slather that stuff on my feet. The grittiness rubbed away all the dry skin and when I rinsed and dried my feet I couldn’t believe how soft they were! I love a good pedicure but sometimes you just don’t have the time or the money for that. I was hooked.

I knew at some point I had to make these for a swap. After all, it’s mostly hard-working ladies who come (many of them moms) and that is certainly a niche of people who deserve some nice pampering. I knew the October swap would be a perfect time for me to make up some quick items, since I was on the tail end of the crazy summer farmers’ market season, which tends to leave me scrambling.

Even if you can make the time to go to a spa, and have the money to spend, some spa product ingredients can be undesirable. Even product lines that claim to be “natural” can be filled with chemicals and additives that you’d rather avoid. Making scrubs at home lets you be the judge of what goes in them, even down to the very brands and sources of the ingredients you put in.

Ingredients for a Lavender Scrub: sugar, salt, safflower oil, lavender essential oil, and dried lavender sprigs.

So, what are you going to need? The answer to that is both simple and complex.

At the very least you will need:

-A glass jar (or several)
-A mixing bowl and spoon
-Something for scent

Ok, that’s the simple part. It gets complicated only in the sense that it’s up to you how you want to customize your blend by tinkering around with those ingredients.

For instance, you could use olive oil if you want that particular scent to linger in your blend, or a more delicate oil like safflower if you want the other scents to shine through. You can also choose between regular sugar or brown (or a combo), and Kosher or sea salt. You could even get crazy and go with pink Himalayan salt.

For scent, the options are limitless. I try to be as natural as possible with mine though. This could include fresh or dry herbs, spices, fruit zest, extracts, and essential oils. I want to caution that with essential oils add a tiny bit at first and then work up. If you have too much in the mix it can actually become a skin irritant. Also, if you are planning on giving the gift to someone who is pregnant, just make sure the scent is one they are comfortable using. I’m not a doctor nor a scientist but many people feel that some essential oils can be potentially dangerous during pregnancy, so just be cautious.

My pumpkin spice scrub...not too oily.

How much of each thing should I mix together?

Again, there is no perfect formula here. Ideally you want just enough oil to balance out the sugar and salt. It’s going to be harder to use (and a little gross looking in the jar) if there’s a lot of excess oil. I just like to start with the dry stuff, and then pour in the oil.

The sugar/salt ratio is another thing you can mess around with but I would start with 1 to 1 (see below). However, it’s fairly easy to figure out the total quantity if you know how many jars you will be making, because all you have to do is multiply the volume of the jars by how many you need to fill. Besides, if you end up with a little extra, you get to keep it for yourself!

Now that we’ve covered the basics (and all the ways you can tweak them) I’ll tell you the basic way to put it all together. In your bowl you are going to (generally) put equal amounts of salt and sugar. Stir this around and then drizzle in the oil and mix it around as you go. You will add oil until the sugar/salt mix is fully “oiled,” but not sitting in a puddle of oil.

Now is when you add fragrance. My method is goofy for this but it works. Add in a small amount, then stick your head in the bowl and sniff. If you can barely smell it, add a little more. Keep going until it’s just right. You could also spoon a little bit out onto your palm, rub it for a second, and then sniff it to see if you can actually detect the fragrance or not.

Below are some combinations you may want to try. Keep in mind that if you are doing a sweeter scrub, it’s perfectly fine to scale back on the amount of salt and punch it up with more sugar.

Yummy Combos to Try:

Mega Mint (great for aching feet): a blend of mints such as peppermint, spearmint & chocolate mint

Tuscan Countryside (softens hands and removes onion/garlic odor): olive oil, lemon zest & fresh thyme sprigs (*this is the one pictured at the top)

Pumpkin Pie Delight (perfect for a fall/winter gift): white and brown sugar, neutral oil (like Safflower), pumpkin pie spice & vanilla extract (*this is the one I’m holding)

Summer Citrus (great in the hot months): zest and/or essential oils of oranges, lemons, limes & grapefruit

Relaxing Lavender (perfect right before bed or as a stress reliever): sprigs and/or essential oil of lavender

The best way to get the full moisturizing benefits of the scrubs is to gently pat your skin dry after rinsing, instead of rubbing vigorously with a towel. Be careful not to slip though if you’ve used it on your feet! At this point you can also put on socks or slippers to really lock in the moisture for truly dry feet.

I hope you try these and come up with a flavor blend that suits you perfectly. If you’ve made these before I’m curious to know what scents/ratios you prefer. Now get scrubbin’!


*Editor’s Note: At our food swaps we do allow a few non-edible items that are made by edible ingredients such as body scrubs, lip balms, and soaps. Oh, and I swapped for Erika’s Tuscan Countryside body scrub and its amazing. I smile every time I use the stuff. An amazing treat – I heart food swaps! -Christina



17 Comments Add yours

  1. Deb G. says:

    My feet and I thank you for this post. Can’t wait to mix up a batch (or 5)!!!

  2. Liz says:

    Loved the pumpkin scrub I got at the swap… definitely making these for gifts this year. I may try coconut oil – I have a coconut oil sugar scrub from a spa (purchased over a year ago and I am still using it sparingly and stretching it out!)… given how easy this seems I think I may be saving some big $ and won’t have to be so stingy with my scrub!

  3. Erika T. says:

    Oooo coconut oil, I hadn’t thought of that! I always have some on hand though so it would be fun to try. I’m glad you liked your scrub. Seriously I feel like there are so many things that are easier to make than we assume and this is definitely one of them!

  4. Betsy says:

    What delicious scent combinations Erika! I’ve made a mojito sugar body scrub (fresh mint, lime zest, lime juice) and a coffee vanilla one too for swaps. I use vegetable glycerin for the moisturizer as I’ve read it leaves skin soft but not oily. I want to try lip balm next!

  5. I got a salt, lavender, pink peppercorn rub/bath salts at my last swap. Can I mix a little bit of this with sugar and oil to make into a scrub?

  6. cheapncheerfulmummy says:

    Ooh I LOVE this idea. Can’t wait to try it out in a home made spa night when the house is nice and quiet. x

  7. Tanya says:

    I had to try this! I used dried orange peels (ground), epson salt, safflower oil, and essensial sweet orange oil. I LOVE it! Thanks for the great ideas!

  8. Tanya says:

    Oops… and the sugar 😉

  9. ahlterra says:

    I have been wanting to try something like this forever! Would Epsom salts work? I have a big tub of them!

  10. Erika T. says:

    @Tanya-Glad to hear it! Your combo sounds absolutely wonderful.
    @ahlterra- I’m sure it would be fine and it looks like Tanya used some in hers and really liked it. Especially for feet since the granules are bigger and could combat some seriously rough skin.

  11. Vonnie says:

    The Lemon Thyme Sugar scrub was given as a gift to someone I work with, and she brought it to our office washroom for all of us to enjoy, and I fell in love with it, and decided to look for the recipe. Thanks much! I love it, and I shared it on with my Facebook friends.

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