Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to basics: Oil based scrubs

I do love my manicure scrub - and yes, I have made more since the original post, but I keep forgetting to take pictures! (Click on the link to see my manicure scrub idea...)

The basic idea behind an oil based scrub is to combine some oils together, add a generous helping of salt as the exfoliant, then add some fragrance or essential oils that will make you smell nice. Pretty simple concept, yet you'll see these for $40 through some mall kiosks and multi-level party-holding companies. Let's make our own for very little money, eh?

This recipe is rated E for everyone, and is fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oils.

97% liquid oil of choice
2% fragrance or essential oil
1% Vitamin E (optional)

Mix your oils together well. Into a clean jar at 100% salt. Pour the oils over top, mix, and you've got yourself a lovely scrub! This will need to be mixed every time you use it as the oils migrate to the top of the jar. (Buy a few little spatulae from your local supply store, like Voyageur, to ensure you aren't contaminating it!) If you are using this in the tub, please buy some plastic jars - glass and slippery surfaces aren't a winning combination (unlike alcohol and night swimming, according to Lenny!)

If you want to make a completely saturated oil scrub that won't need much stirring, you can put salt up to the top of the jar, then pour your oil over it. Let it sit overnight and see how much oil comes to the top. If it doesn't rise up and form a layer (or at least a significant layer), you have a saturated oil based scrub that won't need much stirring. It will feel drier than a scrub that has more oil available to it.

The great thing about a basic recipe like this is how easy it is to make. Combine oils, stir, add salt, done. The hard part is in choosing your oils for the application.

If you want something very light, then you'd want to choose very light oils like sunflower, soy bean, apricot kernel, sweet almond, and fractionated coconut oil. If you want a heavier scrub, then you could choose the medium to heavier oils like avocado, rice bran, olive oil, and so on.

If you prefer a drier feeling product, then avocado, hazelnut, borage, evening primrose, and macadamia nut oils are your friends. If you prefer a greasier feeling product, then sunflower, soybean, apricot kernel, sweet almond, fractionated coconut, olive oil, and rice bran oil are good choices. (There are other choices, these are just a sampling).

I like to choose a light and a medium to heavy oil for scrubs. Generally I'll go with soybean or sunflower as my light choices, rice bran or olive oil as my medium to heavy choices. This is a great place to throw in a little exotic oil at 10% like sea buckthorn or pomegranate or borage oil if you want some of their great benefits.

You can use salt, sugar, clay or jojoba beads, and all manner of scrubby things. I have found the three things I like best are salt, sugar, and pumice. Pumice is great for my feet, but not for my face - far too scrubby. I find the jojoba and clay beads just aren't scrubby enough for my tastes, but you may like them, and they come in a variety of colours that will look lovely in the container.

I'd recommend using fine sea salt or fine Epsom salts. Although coarser salts can look pretty cool, they don't feel all that nice when you're using it on your body. And fine Dead Sea salts are great, but as they are a humectant, mix them in with at least 50% of another salt or could get a gloppy mess or a little rock of salts in the middle of your lovely scrub. And remember that salt can sting open wounds or chapped areas, so keep this away from newly shaved legs or really trashed feet. Instead, choose sugar...

I find plain, everyday white sugar is a great choice. Brown sugar is a good humectant, meaning it will clump up, and I've found things like plantation sugar tends to have really big crystals that can hurt a little. But use what you want - just make sure it's mixable once it ends up in the oil!

POINT OF INTEREST! Do not package these in tin containers. Although they do not contain water, they will be in a watery environment and you may be putting your hands into them when they are wet. They will rust and make a horrible ring on your shower shelf or tub side and may ruin the product!

ANOTHER POINT OF INTEREST! Although you can make these without preservatives, I would suggest using 1% Phenonip in this product (or another preservative suitable for oil based products) because you will be putting wet hands into this product and water can equal contamination. Remove 1% of the oils to compensate for the addition of the 1% preservative. Liquid Germall Plus and Germaben II are not options for preserving this product.

Join me tomorrow for some fun modifications of these oil based scrubs!


Siilike said...

Hi, is it ok to use baking soda as a scrub? I usually mix it with sunflower oil and then apply to my face.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Baking soda is a nice exfoliant that won't scratch the heck out of your face, so keep using it! I like to include it in my scrub bars to get a little more bulk and to add more scrubbiness without too much scratchiness!

Nancypants said...

Hi Susan,

Is it all right to do coffee grounds as the exfoliant? Also, I want to add cocoa powder to it, would that be all right as well?