Make It Miniseries: Sugar Scrub Cubes

If you are a soapmaker, you may have some soap that doesn’t quite “make the grade” (OK, maybe it’s really ugly, but it smells great) or shreds from beveling your soap bars.  If you’re like me, you hate to throw away good soap, so here’s a project that you can grate up a “cosmetically challenged” bar or use those leftover shreds.  It’s so easy, you can make this with the kids – these last few weeks of summer, it’s so hot outside, and wouldn’t it be nice to pry those kiddos away from the TV and other screens?

The basis of this recipe is very simple and easy to change the size of the batch, just make sure you weigh each part with a scale:

  • 1 part “hard” oil (coconut, mango butter, or shea butter)

  • 2 parts grated soap (CP or HP)

  • 3 parts sugar

I made this batch with different colored soap shreds, so the final color was mostly beige, with a few flecks of color.  If you use one or more bars of soap that are the same color, you can add a bit of the same fragrance or essential oil (EO) in the oil part of the recipe, or you can mix it up and add a complementary scent.  For example, if you use a lavender scented soap you could add an orange EO to the oil portion. 

I have brownie bite silicone baking molds and discovered that each cavity holds about one ounce, with 24 cavities in each sheet.  I’ll be using cold process soap that is already scented and colored, so I will only add fragrance to the oil portion.  I want the cubes to be fairly firm and hold together, so I’m going to use a combination of coconut oil and mango butter.  For a light scent, I’ll use 1% for fragrance, so the formula for 24 ounces (total) of product calculates like this:

1 oz. Coconut Oil

3 oz. Cocoa Butter or Mango Butter

2.5 grams (1/2 teaspoon) Fragrance or EO

8 oz. Soap Shreds

12 oz. Granulated Sugar

.10 - .15 CC Mica (optional)

2 to 3 oz. Sugar (optional) 

Instructions:

  1. Sanitize your microwave safe mixing bowl or container (1.5 – 2 quart size), large spoon, and mold by washing in a dishwasher with a high temperature setting – OR – sanitize everything with a solution of 20% bleach. Allow dishes to air dry.

  2. Clean the work area by washing the work surface with soap and water, then spray with alcohol and wipe with clean paper towels.

  3. Use disposable gloves while handling all materials to avoid introducing bacteria into your product.

  4. Weigh coconut oil, mango butter, and soap shreds into the microwave safe container.

5.   Melt the oils and soap in one minute bursts, stirring after each burst.

5.  When melted, let it sit for a few minutes to cool enough to add fragrance; stir in fragrance.  I added about 3 ml of vanilla oleoresin to make a “sugar cookie” type scent.    6.  Mica may be added at this stage, or you may choose to mix the mica with 2-3 oz. of sugar and roll the finished cubes in it.     7.  Weigh 12 oz. sugar in the same container as the melted soap and oils; combine well.  The texture should be very similar to cookie dough.

5.  When melted, let it sit for a few minutes to cool enough to add fragrance; stir in fragrance.  I added about 3 ml of vanilla oleoresin to make a “sugar cookie” type scent.

6.  Mica may be added at this stage, or you may choose to mix the mica with 2-3 oz. of sugar and roll the finished cubes in it.

7.  Weigh 12 oz. sugar in the same container as the melted soap and oils; combine well.  The texture should be very similar to cookie dough.

8.  Spoon into molds, pressing firmly with the back of the spoon to pack each cavity tightly.  Note: Place a sheet of newspaper or wax paper under the mold to catch loose crumbles to make cleanup much faster.    9.  Allow to cool completely before removing from the molds.  To help the cubes harden up more quickly, put in the freezer or refrigerator for an hour or two.

8.  Spoon into molds, pressing firmly with the back of the spoon to pack each cavity tightly.  Note: Place a sheet of newspaper or wax paper under the mold to catch loose crumbles to make cleanup much faster.

9.  Allow to cool completely before removing from the molds.  To help the cubes harden up more quickly, put in the freezer or refrigerator for an hour or two.

     10.  Roll each cube in sugar.  I rolled some of these cubes in organic granulated sugar, which is a light beige color. Colored sugar can be made by taking a small amount of cosmetic grade mica, and stirring until the color has distributed evenly throughout the sugar.  The pink cubes in the photo are rolled in sugar colored with .10 to .15 CC (small cosmetic scoop) pink mica.

 

 10.  Roll each cube in sugar.  I rolled some of these cubes in organic granulated sugar, which is a light beige color. Colored sugar can be made by taking a small amount of cosmetic grade mica, and stirring until the color has distributed evenly throughout the sugar.  The pink cubes in the photo are rolled in sugar colored with .10 to .15 CC (small cosmetic scoop) pink mica.

Your sugar scrub cubes are ready to package in jars or cello bags and can be used right away.  To use, just grab a cube before getting into the shower or tub – each sugar scrub cube is about one ounce, just the right size for a single use. 

To use, rub the cube into damp skin and continue massaging until the sugar has dissolved, then rinse and pat dry.  Since this formula contains soap, it does lather a bit, but it’s a creamy, lotion-type lather that doesn’t leave an abundance of oils on the skin like more traditional sugar scrubs

Sugar scrub is used for exfoliating dry, dull, or flaky skin – but did you know that it also makes a fantastic shaving “cream”?  To use for shaving, after the sugar has dissolved, shave – then rinse and dry.  The oils help prevent razor burn and soften the skin for a truly luxurious experience.

Essential Oils, Fragrance Oils - What's the Difference?

When I began learning about making soap and other bath and body products, I belonged to about three or four Yahoo groups for soapmakers, which is today’s equivalent to Facebook soapmaker pages.  Often, a debate would flare up over a simple comment that questioned the safety or quality of synthetic fragrance – and the battle would begin.

This was about 10 years ago, and the debates continue on, at times escalating to virtual bloodbaths.  Comments are made in blind rages, with raw emotion that’s normally associated with religion or politics.  (But don’t worry, I’m not going *there*).  Members leave groups like wounded puppies, tails between legs, or are banned by admins for breaking group rules.  Cussing, name calling, memes, and flouncing abound.  But who is right?  IS there a right or wrong in this debate?  Personally, I think that there are some truths that should be brought out in the open, so each of us can decide for ourselves.

Fragrance oils are often referred to as an acronym, FO’s, in soap and cosmetic circles.  In the fragrance industry, perfumers use the word “fragrance” when referring to synthetic FO’s.  In the late 1800’s synthetic chemicals began to be used for scenting soaps and making perfumes.  Early versions of fragrance were made with ingredients such as benzene (a carcinogen) and coumarin (toxic to the liver and kidneys), although the dangers weren’t known at that time.  Today, there are still fragrances that are made with benzene and coumarin, as well as aldehydes (inhaling aldehydes can cause airway constriction and cell damage) and phthalates, which are toxic to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive organs, also known to be hormone disruptors.

Further muddying of the waters is accomplished because the fragrance industry is allowed by law to keep their ingredients secret, under the veil of “proprietary information.”  Some fragrances are marketed to cosmetic makers as phthalate free, but what about all the other ingredients?  If some ingredients are known to be toxic or carcinogenic, don’t we have a right to know, to make an educated choice?

On the other hand, we have essential oils, which are derived from plants.  Ah, natural equals safe and somehow better – right?  Well, arsenic is natural, and so is poison ivy, so we can put aside that happy and naïve little thought.  But essential oils, or EO’s, have their own controversial issues as well.  EO’s are extremely concentrated parts of plants, made by distilling plant material.  If you ever wondered just how concentrated they are, try putting a little EO in a plastic container and see what happens.  Most of them only take a few seconds to eat right through plastic, leaving a gaping hole in the container.  And if that container is sitting on a table made of wood, it can strip the finish right off the wood as well.  Knowing that, who would want to put undiluted EO on their skin, or their children’s skin? 

I’m not against essential oils – but I am in favor of knowing what materials you are working with to use them safely and intelligently.  Using EO’s to create scent in handmade soaps and cosmetics without doing research about safe usage and handling is foolish and irresponsible.  It can – and undoubtedly has – caused damage to many people.  Not all EO’s are safe to use, some are safe to use within certain limits, and some are not safe for certain groups of people, such as infants and people with certain medical conditions.

As a maker of soaps and cosmetic products, I make sure that I am using safe levels of essential oils, according to industry standards.  Since synthetic fragrance can contain a multitude of questionable if not downright toxic substances, I try to avoid FO’s as much as possible.  Logic dictates that handling FO’s in their concentrated forms would mean a more concentrated exposure than just exposure to a finished product, so I definitely want to avoid exposure to FO’s when making products. 

The whole reason I started making soaps, body oils, and lotion bars was to offer a high quality version of these things to my family and myself, and ultimately my customers.  It just didn’t feel right to choose any ingredient that I couldn’t know what exactly it was made of, and that it was possibly toxic.  I studied and researched for years before I made my first batch of soap, and I continue to study and research to learn as much as possible so I can continue to offer the very best – and that is the answer for me to the question of EO vs FO.

Natural Skincare Wonder #7: Jojoba Oil

If my blog posts from earlier this week haven’t convinced you to use pure olive oil, coconut oil, or castor oil to replace the lotions on your vanity or sink, perhaps you’ll consider jojoba oil – because it isn’t really an oil at all.  Although it’s commonly referred to as an oil, the liquid that is pressed from jojoba seeds is a mixture of long chain monounsaturated liquid wax esters.  Other botanical oils that come from seeds, nuts, or fruit are mainly comprised of triglycerides, which have a completely different structure.

Jojoba oil is slow to oxidize, so it has an extremely long shelf life, especially when compared to oils such as sunflower oil, avocado oil, or hemp seed oil.   Rich in vitamin E, it also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties.  Its unique chemical structure is very similar to human sebum, the oil that our bodies produce.  Jojoba is quickly absorbed by the skin and makes a wonderfully light conditioner that helps protect from moisture loss.

For many years, jojoba was used in a plethora of beauty products, but the demand began to exceed the supply, as it takes up to three years for a plant to start producing seeds.  The price of jojoba has skyrocketed, with producers struggling to keep up with the high demand.  Even though priced higher than other botanical oils, the cost is still a bargain when the benefits and purity are weighed against most mass-produced lotions that are mostly water, and often contain low quality ingredients such as mineral oil (a petroleum derivative.)   Pure jojoba oil makes a perfect alternative to lotions for those who wants to avoid synthetic ingredients such as fragrance, perfumes, dyes, and preservatives.

Here are some ways to use jojoba oil in your beauty regimen:

  • Carrier Oil for Essential Oils – because of its long shelf life, jojoba makes a perfect carrier oil for diluting essential oils;

  • Skin Softener and Conditioner – use jojoba alone, or add a few drops of essential oils to make your own luxurious custom body oil;

  • Makeup Remover – use a few drops on a cloth or cosmetic square and wipe off eye makeup easily, then rinse with warm water;

  • Acne Treatment – jojoba decreases excessive sebum production and bacteria, helping to reduce acne; apply jojoba to the entire face right after cleansing;

  • Bath Oil – add a tablespoon or two in your bath and soak for at least 20 minutes; your skin will be extra soft and smooth (be careful getting out of the tub, it may be slippery);

  • Shaving Conditioner – apply a dime-size amount of jojoba oil to the skin before shaving for a closer, smoother shave and also to prevent razor burn; use jojoba alone to shave with or underneath a conventional shave cream.

This wraps up my series for this week on my favorite Top 7 natural beauty ingredients.  I hope you learned a few tricks and will want to put them to good use!  Next week I’m going to write about how to give yourself a spa-quality facial at home, using all natural (no synthetics) ingredients.