Homemade Exfoliants

Written by Teresa Bergen


Smooth, youthful-looking skin. Most everybody wants it, and many go to great lengths and expense to get it. But you can make safe beauty products at home for a fraction of the price you’d pay at salons.

What is Exfoliation?
Exfoliation is one of the main ways people pursue younger looking skin. Whether mechanical, like a scrub down in a Turkish bath, or chemical, like an alpha hydroxy acid peel at a salon or plastic surgery clinic, the aim is to remove dead skin cells. 

The American Academy of Dermatology cautions beauty seekers to proceed with care. One kind of exfoliant does not work for all.  Sensitive skin needs gentler exfoliation, and those with inflammatory acne should consult a dermatologist before exfoliating. And one should never exfoliate over sunburn or open cuts.

Why DIY?
With all those salons and shelves full of products, why make your own? For one thing, you know exactly what’s in your DIY concoctions. In the following recipes, all the beauty products are made from ingredients commonly found in most kitchens. If it’s safe to eat an ingredient, it’s probably safe to apply it to your skin. These DIY scrubs are also better for the environment, as they don’t contain the non-biodegradable, fish-choking plastic microbeads prevalent in many commercial exfoliants.

The cost savings can also be incredible. Most consumers have noticed that those small jars of mysterious lotions and potions have correspondingly high price tags.

Making your own cosmetics is also fun. It’s an at-home activity you can do with your kids, mother, sisters or friends.

Recipes

Pumpkin sugar scrub

Refined white sugar is the gentle exfoliating ingredient here.

Ingredients:

1/8 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Pour ingredients into a small bowl and stir until smooth.  Gently apply to damp skin with circular motions. Rinse with lukewarm water. Eat leftovers on toast.

Avocado mask

After exfoliation, you can moisturize with this mask.

Ingredients:

1/4 avocado

1 tbsp. olive oil

Dash of lemon

Mix until smooth. You might want to use a blender for this one. Otherwise, when you apply the mask it may look like you fell face-first into a bowl of chunky guacamole. Apply to your face and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Be sure to follow exfoliation with moisturizer, as it can dry your skin.

How often should you exfoliate? That depends on your skin, and there’s no universal consensus.  If your skin is very oily, you might opt for exfoliating every other day. Sensitive skin may benefit from weekly exfoliation. 

Coffee scrub

Super simple and effective. Coarser grinds may feel better on your body than your face.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. coffee grounds

1 tbsp. olive oil

Mix olive oil into coffee grounds in a small bowl.  Apply to body and/or face. Rinse with lukewarm water. The olive oil will leave your skin extra soft. This one tends to be messy, so give your shower and sink a good wipe down.

About the author

Teresa Bergen

Teresa Bergen is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and web content developer who specializes in health, fitness and travel. Her articles appear on/in MSN.com, Spirituality & Health, India Currents, Whole Life Times Magazine, Pique, Yogi Times, the South China Morning Post, travelandleisure.com and many other print and online publications. She’s the author of Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide and Meditations for Gym Yogis and writes a blog called Veg Travel and Fitness. She’s also the vegetarian/vegan editor of Real Food Traveler. In addition to writing, Teresa is a yoga teacher and ACE-certified personal trainer and health coach.