The Best DIY Face Scrubs for an At-Home Spa Day

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DIY face scrubs are an inexpensive way to brighten, minimize pores, and leave smooth, ultra-soft skin behind. It's amazing what just a few simple ingredients, including brown sugar, oil, and essential oils, can do to our skin.

As wonderful as the world of homemade facial scrub recipes might be, just a friendly reminder before we start that if you are using a homemade scrub—or any scrub really—it is best first to know your skin type. These should be used cautiously, especially if you have sensitive skin or a serious skin condition. "Anytime you exfoliate your skin, it is important that you do not rub your face too hard," says Howard Sobel, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and founder of Sobel Skin. "This can cause your skin to feel irritated and result in redness or burning."

For the most part, homemade face scrubs are excellent for all skin types, and many can be easily adapted to target any of your problem areas like oils, dryness, or blemishes. Better yet, they take just minutes to make. Read on for some DIY face scrub recipes for smoother, glowing skin.

01 of 10

Brown Sugar Face Scrub

Brown sugar is an excellent natural exfoliant that works for all skin types. It's also a very popular ingredient for homemade scrubs because it contains more moisture. A brown sugar face scrub recipe can be elaborate or quite simple. Fill a bowl with one cup of brown sugar and add 3/4 cup of coconut oil and 3/4 cup of Manuka honey. For a boost in smell, add 2 drops of your favorite essential oil. Keep it for no more than 10 minutes and rinse after.

"Brown sugar has a rough texture, which can help as a scrub. However, if one overdoes it, it's possible to cause skin abrasions and even cuts," says medical and cosmetic dermatologist Gary Goldenberg, MD. "I wouldn't recommend it more than once per week." 

02 of 10

Oatmeal Scrub

An oatmeal scrub works for most skin types—especially the dry, sensitive ones, as Goldenberg says. There are many ways to make one out of ingredients in your kitchen. This recipe gets extra moisturizing power from oatmeal with just sweet almond oil, milk, and egg. First, you have to soak your ground oatmeal overnight, in the same proportion of water (if you don't have the time, it can also be cooked). Place in a bowl one cup of this oatmeal, one teaspoon sweet almond oil, two tablespoons of regular milk, and the whites of one egg. Apply to face and neck in a circular motion.

"It's very soothing and moisturizing. It's especially great for those that are prone to allergies," Goldenberg adds. Do be sure that you have a way to prevent the oatmeal from getting washed down your drain. It can potentially cause clogs, which are easier to avoid than they are to fix.

A homemade scrub is safe to use when utilizing natural ingredients that are safe for topical use. However, steer clear of harsh exfoliants, such as walnuts, as they can create micro-tears in the skin and cause irritation. 

03 of 10

Almond Milk Facial Scrub

Perfect for your face or your entire body, a simple almond milk scrub can last you a long time. This scrub uses only dry ingredients—1/2 cup of bentonite clay, 1/2 cup of almond meal, and 2 tablespoons of whole powdered milk —and you can make as much as you like, respecting the proportions and adding just a few drops of lukewarm water before applying in soft moves. "This type of scrub is best suited for oily skin, as the bentonite clay is great for sucking up excess oil while leaving behind tighter, more mattified skin," says Sobel. The dermatologist also says this one is safe to use twice a week, depending on your needs.

While you have the ingredients, grab some cute jars and labels and package some up for friends and family. The long shelf life (about three to four weeks) and ease of use make this scrub a fantastic gift for any occasion.

04 of 10

Coffee and Cocoa Facial Scrub

Cocoa powder
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You'll enjoy a brilliant glow after using a coffee and cocoa face scrub. It adds brightness to any skin tone and can even reduce puffiness. Get a teaspoon of ground coffee (or leftover coffee grinds), another teaspoon of chocolate powder, and two geranium oil drops to a small bowl. Apply the scrub on clean and dry skin, avoiding the eye area. You can leave it there for 10 minutes and rinse in lukewarm water later. 

The secret is in the caffeine found in both of the main ingredients. "Caffeine is a natural way to stimulate blood flow, which can result in tighter skin, and is great for eliminating fluid retention that makes your face feel puffy or inflamed," says Sobel. When you add honey and a dairy product like milk or yogurt, it's even better and ultra-moisturizing. Sobel instructs that it's best to use this once a week, especially if you have sensitive skin or have other products you use with exfoliating benefits.

Although some facial scrubs can be used on the body, the other way around is not always safe. The skin on the body is not as sensitive or as oily as the face, so they need to be treated differently.

05 of 10

Pineapple and Papaya Facial Exfoliating Mask

If you have ever tried Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub ($28), you know that it is a fantastic product. However, it comes with a pretty steep price tag. You can get the same effect for a fraction of the cost with an easy DIY pineapple and papaya mask recipe. Mash 1/4 cup of cubed fresh pineapple and 1/4 cup of cubed fresh papaya together, then add two tablespoons of brown sugar, one tablespoon of sweet almond oil, and another tablespoon of honey. Apply to your face skin and leave it for a few minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water.

Both pineapple and papaya are natural exfoliants, and the fruity aroma is sure to invigorate all your senses. The enzymes in papaya can decrease inflammation, help reduce acne and also avoid small bumps on the skin, while pineapple is a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants that help to treat acne and sun damage. Still, this is not the best skin treatment if you have sensitive skin. Experts alert that pineapple and other citrus fruits can exacerbate any sensitivity issues. "Anything acidic in high concentration can cause your skin to become inflamed and irritated," says Goldenberg.

06 of 10

Peach Facial Scrub

A peach facial scrub is unique, has a great scent, and is packed with skin-renewing benefits. Just combine a cup of fresh and mashed organic peaches and 3/4 cup of honey with 3/4 cup of brown sugar and a few drops of your favorite oil. Be sure to use it all or share it with friends in the next few hours due to the limited peach shelf life.

Peaches are a surprising beauty powerhouse in the fruit world. Like many fruits, they naturally contain alpha-hydroxy acid, which acts as a mild exfoliant. Not only does this break down dead skin cells, but it also helps new cell turnover. When used regularly, this simple scrub will leave your skin smoother, prevent blackheads, and lead to a clearer, brighter complexion.

Key Ingredients

Alpha-hydroxy acids are a group of acid compounds, most often derived from plant-based sources, which work to exfoliate the skin. They come in a variety of types (like glycolic and lactic acid) and differ in size, and subsequently, penetration and potency.

07 of 10

Rose Petal Exfoliating Scrub

Roses are beautiful, of course, but the flower's petals can also become a part of your beauty routine. They can be used to reduce oils, help fight blemishes, and will give your skin a healthy glow. Sobel affirms that rose petals are great for those with sensitive skin, and believe it or not, he says they can also act as an SPF (though he always recommends using daily sunscreen regularly throughout the day).

Combining a cup of crushed petals with 1/2 cup of ground oats creates a lovely rose petal exfoliating scrub. "The natural oils reduce redness and oiliness while also eliminating wrinkles and hydrating," says Sobel. When you follow that with rose water, your skin will feel as beautiful as it smells.

08 of 10

Adzuki Bean Face Scrub

When you're in the mood for something a little more unique, turn to the adzuki bean face scrub. Adzuki bean powder is a staple in Japanese beauty products, and it is meant for the deepest clean of any skin type. According to Sobel, the chemical makeup tightens, softens, and removes dead skin cells and excess sebum from pores.

All you need is to mix the powder to warm water until they make a thick paste, though you can add rice bran for a bit more exfoliating power (just remember to add more water). "Finely ground rice bran or rice powder can certainly be used to exfoliate the skin, and because it is an antioxidant, it can provide anti-inflammatory benefits. This can prevent skin aging, reduce UV light damage, improve skin cell growth and leave skin brighter overall," says Sobel.  

09 of 10

Strawberry Face Scrub

hand holding an strawberry

Irene Kredenets / Unsplash

To prevent acne, fight the signs of aging, or just looking for an all-natural way to clean your skin, reach for a strawberry face scrub. A simple and easy recipe uses just a cup of fresh purréed strawberries, 1/2 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of sweet almond oil. 

"Strawberry is great because it contains salicylic acid, which is a prime ingredient for fighting acne. Honey, cinnamon, and aloe are also good for the skin," says Sobel. "I would only use this once or twice a week, especially if you have sensitive skin or have other products you use with exfoliating benefits."

10 of 10

Aloe Vera Gel & Sugar Facial Scrub

Going back to the benefits of aloe gel, one last—but not least—efficient face scrub relies on the hydrating power of aloe vera gel and the exfoliating benefits of refined sugar. "It can remove dead skin cells effectively and reveal healthier, brighter skin without overdrying," says Sobel. A sugar scrub can also speed up the skin renewal process, leaving skin looking younger, with reduced visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Combine two tablespoons of aloe vera gel with the same amount of white sugar. Stir until the sugar starts to melt and apply to the face in gentle moves, then rinse. The doctor indicates applying a sugar face scrub not more than once a week. "Remember you don't want to over-exfoliate the skin as this could have negative effects." Noted!

Article Sources
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  1. Michigan State University Extension. Homemade sugar scrubs for skin care. Updated February 25, 2015.

  2. Dosoky NS, Setzer WN. Biological activities and safety of citrus spp. essential oilsInt J Mol Sci. 2018;19(7):1966. doi:10.3390/ijms19071966

  3. Moghimipour E. Hydroxy acids, the most widely used anti-aging agentsJundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod. 2012;7(1):9-10.

  4. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

  5. Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascenaIran J Basic Med Sci. 2011;14(4):295-307.

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