Homemade Exfoliating Sugar Scrub

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Everyone likes smooth skin right? (Well, everyone except for my husband who gave me a confused look when told him what I was making. He just doesn’t understand.)

I saw several “recipes” for homemade sugar scrubs on Pinterest and given how easy it looked, I had to try. I also noticed that 95% of the sugar scrubs were photographed in a mason jar. I should have bought stock in mason jar manufacturers years ago.

First, a note.  People have a myriad of reasons for why they exfoliate and/or make their own scrubs. I’m not one who swears by organic anything (I need more science and appropriate regulation of terminology) nor do I believe in the detoxifying qualities of these ingredients (I prefer to rely on my kidneys and frequent bowel movements). Personally, I just like the masochistic act of scrubbing my skin raw for the temporary enjoyment of baby’s butt smoothness. Additionally, I’ve purchased a few bottles of essential oils (for additional projects to be posted later) and this was a fun way to expand my experimentation with them. Whatever your reasons are, they are your own, and you should own them.

There are tons of iterations for exfoliating scrubs. The basic idea is an oil base (i.e. coconut, olive, avocado, baby…the Johnson & Johnson kind. Please don’t squeeze a baby and hope he/she excretes oil), an abrasive ingredient (white sugar, brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, coffee), and optional additives (i.e. honey, essential oils, fruit). My recent trip to Hawaii has made me more coconut-inclined so I started with that to build off of.

Here’s what I used:

  • 5 oz of coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 20 drops of Orange Sweet 100% Essential oil
  • 10 drops of Ginger Root 100% Essential oil


It WAS very easy to make myself and it did fulfill my masochistic need to rid my body of my perceived layers of dead skin cells (and a few healthy ones too most likely). The oil base of the scrub left my skin a little too oily for my taste so I had to follow up with body wash. However, I did feel incredibly moisturized for the next day or so. The scent of the coconut oil persisted despite the body wash follow up and largely overshadowed the orange and ginger, which I could still detect if I unapologetically sniffed myself by burying my nose in my skin.

To make this experiment more fun for myself, I decided to calculate the cost of making my scrub. First, a few parameters. I used Wikipedia’s definition of a drop as 0.05mL and looked up the cost of sugar at my local Target. The other prices listed are my actual costs. I also estimated that I ended up with about 8oz of scrub.

Here’s me being a good student and showing my work:

Ingredient Total Cost Amount Used Fractional Cost
Nature’s Way Coconut Oil $12 for 16 oz 5 oz $3.75
Piping Rock Orange Sweet 100% Essential Oil $4.79 for 2 oz (59mL) 20 drops $0.08
Piping Rock Ginger Root 100% Essential Oil $4.89 for 0.5 oz (15mL) 10 drops $0.16
C&H Sugar $2.89 for 4lb bag 3/4 cup or .33 lbs $0.24

On Amazon, you can purchase an 18 oz tub of Tree Hut Sugar Scrub for $6.49. My concoction comes out to $0.52 per ounce and the Amazon product is $0.36 per ounce. Of course, this number is hugely variable depending on what product you buy, but at a very basic level, this shows you can buy a scrub for cheaper.

I’d be doing my master’s degree a huge disfavor if I didn’t acknowledge the great many variables that are unaccounted for, such as cost of shipping (if any), whether these products are already staples in your pantry vs whether you have to buy them specifically for this purpose, cost of products, quality of products, labor, and qualitative factors like product enjoyability, odor preferences, and crafting enjoyment.

Lessons learned:

  1. Amazon (and Amazon Prime) is still amazing.
  2. Making your own scrub is easy, especially if you already own these products.
  3. Making your own scrub allows you to customize the scents, although it will take some experimentation to get a balanced scent profile.
  4. Making your own scrub may not necessarily be cost saving.
  5. I enjoy being a nerd. Okay, this wasn’t newly learned. I’ve always known this.

End scene.