Natural beauty has come a long way since tipping raw eggs on your hair and squashed bananas on your face. Not that I am saying they are bad, I’m just not into that kind of thing. What I have enjoyed creating and using (and loving the benefits of it not costing the earth) is making my own shower gels, bath remedies, hand lotions, and the topic of today: body scrubs.
I just love that clean, fresh feeling you get when your skin has been gently exfoliated and beneath that tired, dull, sallow complexion there’s a new you looking back in the mirror. I have tried many body scrubs (and facial) in the past. Some have left my skin feeling that the exfoliation has come from me being dragged behind a pick-up down a dirt track at 40MPH. Others were sharp and way too tingly. When I did come across that perfect scrub, it found it cost a mountain of gold to achieve that smooth, rosy glow.
One day I took it upon myself to create the best I could with natural products bought from the supermarket, my garden (when I was in the UK) and my supply of essential oils and vegetable carrier oils. The list could be endless and so could the price if you are new to purchasing essential oils. The price is linked to how easy it is to produce the essential oil held within the plant, flower, resin, seed, root, leaf, peel, or petal. For example a yield of lavender will produce a lot more oil than that of say, rose or jasmine. A ton of petals from these beauties will only produce around a kilo of oil. If produced organically, then expect the price to go higher. Essentially (ha see what I did there!) you will get what you pay for. Always buy oils with their Latin name on the bottle, it should state ‘essential oil’ on the bottle*, and the bottle itself should should be dark in colour. Either amber, blue, or dark green to protect the precious liquid from light. They should also have an integral dropper in the top of the bottle to stop you from pouring the contents (and your money) down the drain.
Okay so now you know what to look for when buying your oils, same applies to the carrier, or vegetable oil of choice. I would never buy a vegetable oil from the supermarket for this purpose. Most have been heat treated and pressed multiple times to produce a ‘standard’ colour and biggest yield from source. Carrier oils should be cold pressed and for best, first pressed for their nutrients. Popular choices and some of my favourites are jojoba, sweet almond, grape seed, macadamia nut, peach or apricot kernel oils and evening primrose oil. Their odour should be neutral. FYI their price may and should vary also due to the same reasons as essential oils.
Background info given – now for the exciting bit, choosing your oils and ingredients to make your own body scrub.
Base to chose from:
- sea salt
- fine oats
- grape seed
- sweet almond
- lavender flowers
- chamomile heads
- peppermint leaves**
- juniper – cleansing and detoxifying
- grapefruit – refreshing and uplifting
- spearmint – clearing and rejuvenating
- lavender – soothing and calming (to name but a few properties)
- bergamot – Zesty and refreshing
- petitgrain – Rejuvenating and cleansing
- frankincense – Calming and focusing, excellent for the skin
- geranium – Balancing and harmonising
- rosemary – Stimulating and invigorating
- rosewood – Calm and fresh
I realize that the above descriptions do not do many of the oils justice. I practiced for 10 years professionally and still use my oils at home. There are many ways to describe the effects and benefits of essential oils, but I have tried to give you an idea of what to go for when buying.
Now to put all that information into a pot of yummy-ness (not to be eaten of course!)
For about 300 g of base (salt or oats) add 200ml of chosen carrier oil then add no more than 20 drops and I mean NO MORE, of your essential oils. I often use a combination of 3 or 4 oils maximum. Rarely just one. You will have to play around with how many drops of each. What you will find is that some oils are simply more powerful in their aroma than others – it’s called the odour intensity. The stronger the smell, the less you use.
So let me give you an example of a recipe and then you can go and play to your hearts content:
300 g sea salt
200 ml jojoba oil
6 drops grapefruit essential oil
4 drops junpier essential oil
8 drops petitgrain essential oil
2 drops bergamot essential oil
Mix together, add in your flowers or herbs at this point if you are using them. Store in dark glass jar for up to a month then discard.
TIP: When in the shower, wash, then step aside from the cascading water to use scrub, step back into flow to wash the scrub away. Your skin will have a fine film of oil, do not worry, just gently pat your skin dry to leave it feeling super smooth and soft. Use once a week, or more on dry knees and feet.
It goes without saying that sea salt is probably not a good thing to use on your face, but super fine oats are great.
Important information: some oils can irritate the skin, some should not be used during pregnancy and others with medical conditions such as high blood pressure. However in the case of body scrubs they are used in small quantities and applied and washed off very quickly. If you should fall into any of these categories do your research!
* in the case of rose, neroli (orange flower) and jasmine they are often diluted into a carrier oil of jojoba (pronounced ho-ho ba). This is not a bad thing, just makes the oil a little more affordable to the purse of many.
** Some of you will be lucky enough to wander into your garden to pick the flowers and herbs, others will have to take a trip to your nearest herbal/health food supplier.
So happy blending, mixing and smelling to you.