Friday, April 2, 2010

Formulating for your skin type: Sugar scrub for dry skin

Dry skin has some difficulty removing the top layer of cells through desquamation, leaving a white or grey look to the skin from those cells that refuse to move! We can help them along by creating a lovely occlusive, moisturizing, and exfoliating sugar scrub we can use in the shower or tub. Because we're using these while bathing, we can trap in the water and enjoy the moisture all day long! (Sugar scrub recipe first posted here...)

I absolutely adore an emulsifier sugar scrub in the shower! My skin feels so lovely, all exfoliated and moisturized, with a hint of scent to carry me through the day! This is an anhydrous scrub, so we're not including any water based ingredients. We could add a titch of something like a cationic polymer or hydrolyzed protein because the e-wax will emulsify it, but this is a really picky recipe - some people have mentioned it can separate in the heat, and we don't want to annoy it too much!

We don't have any humectants in here, and we know those are essential for dry skin! What about olive oil? Is olive oil good for dry skin? It contains our lovely ß-sitosterol phytosterol, which is great for reducing itching and trans-epidermal water loss, and it can act as a humectant, but it doesn't have a ton of that lovely linoleic acid or GLA that we want for damaged skin. So why use olive oil? Squalene.

Squalene (or squalane) is a great inclusion for dry skin. It is absorbed quickly by our skin to moisturize and soften, and is great for cracked skin! We can buy squalane from our suppliers, but it gets a bit spendy, so we can use olive oil to get some of this great ingredient on our skin!

And let's not sneeze at oleic acid either. It is a fantastic softening and moisturizing fatty acid that also provides some great anti-inflammatory benefits! So it is a good inclusion in our products!

Since we'll be using a lot of oils in this recipe - about 56% - we can use a mix of oils. I'd suggest using about half olive oil and half soy bean oil. The other oils high in linoleic acid and phytosterols are a bit expensive for this application.

What about the butters? We need some cocoa butter in here to give the sugar scrub a stiffer feeling, and we don't want to remove that because it offers great occlusive properties. And I do like shea butter in this for the moisturizing of the stearic acid and the occlusive and healing nature of allantoin, so I really don't want to remove that.

If you want to try another butter, mango is probably not your best choice as it can feel very dry - and if you have dry skin, it's unlikely you want to add more dryness to your life. But if you can add it if you like it in place of the shea butter. (Having said this, if you like a less greasy product, then mango butter is probably your friend.)

If you want to try something other than cocoa butter, consider using illipe, kokum, or sal butter as these have the same melting points.

Finally, the other ingredients. We are using an emulsifier (e-wax) in this recipe as well as a thickener (cetyl alcohol) because we're planning to add water to this when we enter the shower or bath. We could use BTMS as the emulsifier, but it can feel a bit dry. It will offer some substantivity to your skin, so someone with very dry skin might appreciate this skin benefit, but the dryness might turn you off. Cetyl alcohol is an emollient itself, and it will make a more glidy product.

So let's take a look at our final recipe...

10% emulsifying wax or Polawax
10% cetyl alcohol
10% cocoa, sal, illipe or kokum butter
10% shea butter
30% soy bean oil
26% olive oil
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil
1% phenonip preservative

*Note: To turn this into a body scrub, start with 100 grams of sugar per 100 grams of sugar scrub. You can increase it as high as 200 grams for 100 grams of sugar scrub - it depends upon your taste (I like it really scrubby, so I go for 200 grams per 100 grams of sugar scrub.) If you are using another exfoliant, you'll really have to play with it to see what you like. Consider using salt (although this can sting broken skin), loofah, or seeds. I've tried this recipe with jojoba beads and really didn't like it. It wasn't scratchy enough for my tastes!

**Note: We're using 2% fragrance oil because we're actually making 200 grams of product by adding the sugar, so the increased fragrance amount will actually make the product smell nice. If you're using essential oils, check your safe usage levels before adding to the scrub.*

Weigh all ingredients except the fragrance or essential oil in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler. Heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70C. Remove from the double boiler and put into your fridge or freezer until it reaches 45C. Add the fragrance oil, then return it to the fridge or freezer to cool further.

When the mixture starts to harden slightly on the sides of the container and gets a thick film on the top, remove it from the fridge or freezer and start whipping it with a hand mixer with whisk attachments or your Kitchenaid with whisk attachments. Whisk until it looks like vanilla pudding - this might take a little while - then add the sugar and whisk until well incorporated. Pour into jars and let sit until hardened, usually over night.

As a note, some people whip this in a Kitchenaid for hours to make it extra fluffy. I'm an impatient woman so I don't do that. But if you have a Kitchenaid mixer, try it with the whisk attachment to see how fluffy you can get it.

Join me tomorrow to tweak this recipe for other skin types!


Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays Susan,

Just wondering if I can successfully sub Incroquat CR for the cetyl alcohol in the sugar scrub. I have tons of ICR that I need to use.



Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Happy holidays, D! Incroquat CR would make a lovely addition to this scrub, I think. It's conditioning and would leave behind some nice moisturizing. (I use Incroquat CR in my body and foot scrub bars, and even at a small amount, I really notice a difference.) I think I'm going to try it next time - it's really just the difference in costs (about $3.00 a pound for cetyl vs. $8.00 for Incroquat CR) that keeps me for using more CR in my products!

Anonymous said...

Great! It is very pricey, but I'm going to give it go tonight in my sugar scrub experiment. :-)

Thanks Susan,


Pam said...

Hi Susan,

I am a little confused. You state that an emulsifier is going
to be used because we will add water in the shower... I would expect to see the preservative but not an emulsifier....I thought that the emulsion occurred at the heated temperature...

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Pam. We have an emulsifier in this scrub because we want it to emulsify when the water mixes with it on our skin.

There are three components to emulsification - heat, chemistry, and mechanical means, like stirring. Those relate to making a product, not how we use it. And you can't have one without the other two.

You could make an oil based scrub without an emulsifier and all the scrubbing of the product on your body (mechanical) and the heat from the shower water (heat) won't make it emulsify. You need an emulsifier in the product to make it emulsify (chemical), so that's why we include it.

If you've used an oil based scrub and an emulsified scrub in the shower, you'd definitely see the difference. The emulsified scrub turns into a creamy lotion on your skin before it's rinsed off; the oil based scrub just rinses off. I think of this product as a concentrated lotion without water - we add the water in the shower to create the lotion right on our skin!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I just had to comment about the scrub being "a concentrated lotion without water." Very well put! That's exactly what it is. This is a lovely product that I thoroughly enjoy.


Anonymous said...

This may be a dumb question - I have never made lotions or scrubs before - I am learning all about this stuff now :) Would using Germall Plus as a preservative instead of Phenonip result in any difference in the final product? I am assuming these are just personal preference in preservative types.

none said...


I love the concept of a concentrated lotion without water, and you're very right about that with this recipe. I tried it and found that to be the case. I want to know if I can take this concept further. Making a concentration lotion that you can 'just add water!' to so I plan to make it again without the sugar. My idea is after a shower I simply apply and step out, no rinse required!

My issue is I have very dry skin and I found this scrub wasn't as moisturizing for me. What can I add to make this concentrated lotion more moisturizing? My first thought was glycerine and dimethicone, but I'm concerned about the former actually against me if my skin already has more moisture than the air around me (it being wet and all). Can you give me some insights on this? I will making this soon and posting how it turns out.

Love your site!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi none. Have you read this post on the myth of glycerin pulling water from your skin? I wouldn't stress about using it and having problems. Glycerin is a great humectant for dry skin, and you'll be using enough occlusive ingredients to create a great film.