Make It Miniseries: Coffee Sugar Scrub

If you’ve never used sugar scrub before, your skin is in for a real treat!  I think it should really be called Skin Polish, because that’s what it does: it exfoliates dead skin cells and leaves your skin silky smooth and soft with emollient oils.  And if you use it instead of shaving cream or soap, you’ll find that it also gives your razor a perfect glide, which helps prevent razor burn and gives a nice close shave.

Unlike salt scrubs, sugar scrub won’t sting the skin if you have any tiny cuts or abrasions – or if you happen to nick yourself while shaving.  Also, plain granulated sugar naturally contains glycolic acid, which is also a mild exfoliant.  It’s quick and simple to make, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now – if you made some coffee oil (I posted a tutorial on August 1) you only need to add sugar to it for a fantastic scrub.

Start with about ½ to 1 cup of oil, then stir in an equal amount of sugar.  You can use white granulated sugar, coarse demerara sugar, brown sugar, or a combination of any of these.  I found that demerara sugar was too abrasive; a smaller grain provided plenty of scrubbing action for my fairly sensitive skin.  My favorite blend is about half white sugar and half brown sugar.  The warm molasses scent of the brown sugar blends nicely with the coffee scented oil.

Add more sugar if you prefer a less oily scrub.  Store your sugar scrub in a jar with a lid, making sure that no water is introduced inside it.  Water in the sugar scrub will provide an environment for bacteria and mold to grow, so use a clean, dry spoon or scoop to take out a portion of it to use.  Apply to damp skin and massage in, until all or most of the sugar has dissolved; rinse thoroughly.  Be careful getting out of the tub or shower because the oils on your skin and tub can be slippery!

And seriously, please try this when you shave your legs: one of my daughters swears by it.  She used to get razor burn almost every time she shaved, no matter how often she changed blades – nothing really helped until she started shaving with sugar scrub.

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.

Make It Miniseries: Hot Oil Hair Treatment

It should be no surprise that after all the wonderful things I’ve told you about plant-based oils, that I’m writing again about oil and what it can do for your hair.  Since all hair is dead above the surface of the skin, you won’t be able to reverse damage or revitalize dead cells.  Oils can be absorbed and fill in areas where the outer layer of hair is often missing cells from damage by heat styling or chemical treatments such as permanent dyes and straightening.  A hot oil treatment for the hair also benefits the scalp by improving circulation and dissolving buildup from sebum and hair products containing silicones.  A quick fix for dry, over processed, or dull locks, a hot oil treatment will do the job.

The best oils for restoring shine and luster to hair:

  • Olive Oil – penetrates deep and absorbs quickly, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for strength and shine;

  • Castor Oil – contains anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties to strengthen hair and help balance the scalp’s pH; promotes new growth;

  • Jojoba – contains vitamins A, C & D, its structure is similar to sebum (the natural oil your body produces to protect your skin and scalp);

  • Coconut Oil – is high in vitamin E and other nutrients that are easily absorbed by the hair, making it shinier, thicker, and healthier; helps prevent itchy scalp and dandruff.

Use any of these oils as a stand-alone treatment or in any combination.  To add even more benefits of the treatment, add a few drops of the following essential oils:

  • Bergamot – to promote hair growth;

  • Rosemary – stimulates roots and increases circulation;

  • Lavender – for shine, deep conditioning, and growth;

  • Geranium – strengthens hair;

  • Chamomile – adds softness and shine, and soothes the scalp;

  • Clary Sage – promotes growth and stimulates the scalp.

To mix your hot oil treatment, use about one half ounce to one ounce of oils, depending on hair length and thickness.  (Long and thick hair will need up to two ounces of oil.)  Use 5 or 6 drops of essential oils per ounce of the oil mixture.  You can mix up enough oil for several treatments and store it in a bottle with a tight fitting lid.

Warm the oil by placing the bottle in very hot water and letting it sit for a few minutes.  Apply the oil to the scalp, a little at a time, until the scalp is lightly saturated – you don’t have to drench yourself.  Massage the oil into your scalp for a few minutes with light circular motions with the pads of your fingertips – you don’t want to scrape or scratch your scalp with your fingernails.  Work the oils into your hair by combing with your fingers down through your hair, applying a little extra oil on the ends.  Pile your hair on top of your head (if it’s long) and wrap in a towel or put on a shower cap.  Leave the oil on your hair for at least 30 minutes, overnight is even better.  Wash your hair as usual, and lightly condition it after shampooing. 

Enjoy your soft, shiny, healthy hair and scalp!

Make It Miniseries: Fizzy Bath Salts

Bath bombs are hot right now, especially the ones that color your bath water vivid red or black.  While I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to clean the tub after one of those heavily pigmented bombs, I do know that a well-made bath bomb or fizzy can be so very relaxing and therapeutic for tired, sore muscles.  If it’s made with oils or butters (like cocoa, shea, or mango seed) then it also softens and conditions the skin.

But one of the problems with bath bombs is that they are tricky to make.  Even seasoned artisan makers struggle with them, and it takes more than just a little experimenting, practice, and trial and error to learn to make a bath bomb that is smooth, hard, and doesn’t break apart easily.  On the other hand, making fizzy bath salts contain almost identical ingredients with none of the difficulties of molding it into a sphere or other 3-D shape.  Think of fizzy bath salts as a powdered version of a bath bomb.

Before I get to the recipe, let me share some of the reasons why bath bombs and bath salts are so wonderful.  Here’s a breakdown of ingredients and what they do:

  • Sea Salt – when combined with warm water, it opens up skin pores and plumps up the skin, giving you a healthy glow;

  • Epsom Salts, aka Magnesium Sulfate – what we call Epsom Salts is not a salt at all, but a compound of magnesium and sulfate; it’s absorbed through the skin and will replenish depleted magnesium in the body, which is needed for producing serotonin and the proper function of muscles and nerves;

  • Baking Soda – softens skin; soothes minor burns and rashes and promotes healing; pulls toxins from the skin;

  • Citric Acid – a mild exfoliate that helps loosen dead skin cells, and contains antioxidants to repair cells;

  • Oat Flour – contains anti-inflammatory properties to soothe irritated skin; hydrates and moisturizes by penetrating below the outer layers of skin;

  • Powdered Milk – fats and proteins in milk will soften the skin and moisturize it; lactic acid also softens and gently exfoliates the skin.

The Recipe – Make Fizzy Bath Salts

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl:

2 Cups Sea Salt, pink Himalayan Salt or Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate), or a mixture of any of these

1 Cup Baking Soda

½ Cup Citric Acid

½ Cup Oat Flour

½ Cup Powdered Milk (goat milk is very nice, also coconut milk, or cow’s milk)

1/2 Cup of dried lavender buds, dried rose petals, or dried chamomile flowers - Optional

Stir until all dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, then in a small bowl, combine:

1-2 Tablespoons Jojoba or other liquid oil, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, or grapeseed oil;

1 – 1 ½ teaspoons (5 to 7 ml) Essential Oil – lavender, lemon or orange, patchouli, or any combination of these totaling no more than 1 ½ teaspoons)

Drizzle the oil mixture over the dry ingredients and stir well.

Package the fizzy bath salts in an airtight container, such as a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, or a heavy weight ziplock bag.

This recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled.

To use, add ½ to 1 cup to hot bath water; agitate with your hands on the bottom of the tub to help dissolve any larger pieces of salt.  Relax and soak for at least 15 minutes for maximum benefits.

This blog post is the first in a one week series featuring some simple DIY recipes for making your own bath and body products.  Use them to pamper yourself or make gifts for family and friends – and enjoy!