Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick note on using water in sugar and salt scrubs

I've received quite a few emails lately from people wanting to know how to preserve or make their sugar or salt scrubs that contain things like aloe vera or coconut milk. I'm not sure where you're finding these recipes, but you really can't have a water based sugar or salt scrub! It's all about solubility. Sugar and salt are soluble in water, which means you won't have a scrub with sugar in it, you'll have some water with lots of sugar or salt dissolved in it. Besides, the goal of a sugar scrub is to exfoliate and leave behind a nice oily layer on our skin after rinsing. Water based ingredients won't stay on our skin - they'll rinse off with the water.

As an aside, when I say water, I mean anything that could take the place of water in a recipe. So aloe vera, coconut milk, peppermint hydrosol, and everything else watery are counted as water because they are water with a little something added. I am aware that it is possible to make a gelled sugar scrub with water, but that's a discussion for a different post. 

What's the logic in using water in a scrub? I think it's so you can get all kinds of goodies into your product. There are lots of great water soluble ingredients - extracts, hydrosols, proteins, and so on - and we want those ingredients to benefit our skin. But there are tons of oil based ingredients with all kinds of wonderful goodies, and you can even get things like green tea extract or calendul in oil soluble form. Research your oils to see what each of them brings to your skin, and choose a nice butter that gives your product the right skin feel. In short, give up the water based ingredients and do a little reading of oil soluble ingredients to make yourself an awesome product! (Click here for the emollients section of the blog...)

Here are a few recipes you might consider trying. As a note, if you don't have black cocoa butter or golden shea, try using regular cocoa butter or shea. Or try mango butter or another butter you love. Isn't that why we make products? (There are other scrub recipes on the blog, but I'm a bit rushed this morning!)

Experiments in the workshop: Black cocoa in a sugar scrub
Emulsifiers: Ritamulse SCG in a sugar scrub
Experiments in the workshop: Behenyl alcohol in my Ritamulse SCG scrub
Experiments in the workshop: Golden shea sugar scrub
Formulating for your skin type: Sugar scrubs for dry skin 
Formulating for dry skin: Making an emulsified scrub
Formulating for your skin type: Sugar scrubs for other skin types
Question: How do you know what and how to substitute?
Chemistry of our nails: Oil based scrubs (manicure)
Body scrubs - oil based
Back to basics: Oil based scrubs
Back to Basics: Modifying the oil based scrub


Mychelle said...

Lesson learned the hard way! Many years ago I thought I was the genius who had solved the leaky emulsified scrub conundrum. "An emulsified body butter scrub - it's perfect!" I thought. Until my sugar dissolved and I had a random jar of lotion in my shower. It took me a few whole seconds to go "Oh, right. Sugar and water won't work." I'm glad you said it. :)

Anonymous said...

Just a quick side-note about scrubs in general--Thank you for making the posts about emulsified scrubs with (I believe the company you get it from calls it "Ritamulse?") Anyhow, thank you! I was looking for an emulsifier I could safely use with phenonip, and I settled on glyceryl stearate and cetearyl alcohol as my mains. I heard some good things about the Lactylates, too, so when lotioncrafter started carrying ECOMulse I obviously wanted to give it a try. Your unofficial endorsement helped my decision greatly. Now I don't have to measure out 4 different waxes when I make scrubs. (And in a few months, that's going to be quite a big deal. Christmas will be here before we know it!)

Samantha Kiffer said...

Hi Susan! Once again (I know you hear this ALLLLLL the time), just wanted to say I'm a HUGE fan. To get to the point tho - I love salt scrubs as are, but I'd really like to find a way (if possible) to make one that is more effective at cleansing. The oils are great for moisturizing but sometimes my skin just can't handle that and I find myself more comfortable giving a quick wash with some soap after application. I've tried using very light oils in place of heavier ones (current scrub is grapeseed & sea buckthorn), as well as upping the salt content, but I'd still prefer something that rinsed a little cleaner. I know that Lush's Ocean Salt contains a surfactant (sodium cocoamphoacetate), but I'm unsure of how to incorporate something like this into my emulsified scrub. Is there possibly a way to produce a cleansing scrub without the use of surfactants? Thanks for your help!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Samantha! So you're making an emulsified scrub and you want it to be more cleansing? Unfortunately, adding a surfactant to the mix isn't going to make it more cleansing as it'll be overwhelmed by all that oil. You can try adding some, although I don't know how much to suggest, and see if you like it. I'm wondering if you don't want to add more emulsifier to the mix? The more emulsifier, the more the oils will wash off.

Have you thought about maybe making a more moisturizing body wash? Just a thought...

Tiffany Jolly said...

I have a question then about adding water to a emulsified scrub. The soap queen has a recipe that uses liquid soap and water to make an emulsified sugar scrub. I've made that recipe and the sugar/salt has not dissolved in any way and I've had this particular scrub for over three months now. It's still just as scrubby as when I first made it. The soap queens scrub exfoliates because of the sugar, cleanses because of the liquid soap and is a lotion because of the emulsifier. Oils and butters are added also. I am not trying to advocate her in any way just trying to understand really? You say water is bad in a scrub but this seem contradictory.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tiffany. Could you provide a link to the product? I'm curious to see what it looks like. I wonder if it's a super saturated solution of the sugar, meaning that there is so much sugar dissolved already, it can't dissolve any more? Just a thought.

I love a good challenge! Can't wait to see what you can send me.

And you can totally advocate for Anne-Marie! She's great!

Tiffany Jolly said...

Sorry i just saw the email! I tried your sugar scrub recipe and it has quickly become my number one and go to scrub! Its so freaking awesome leaves my skin feeling so pampered! I love it on my hands and feet! Plus i love how simple it is to make!
Here is the link to the soap queens scrub: