The holidays are among us and winter is almost here, which means one thing: It’s time to dig into a cold weather body care routine. After all, as soon as temperatures start to dip, our skin begins to falter in its moisture content. That’s because our topmost layer of skin starts to get dry, and dead skin cells build up, effectively blocking moisture out. Thankfully, body scrubs exist to slough away these dead cells and make way for optimal hydration. And, when it comes to body scrubs for winter, there’s nothing quite as festive as a candy cane mixture. From the invigorating scent to the festive nostalgia, you’ll want to use a candy cane scrub daily (but, to keep your skin healthy, it’s best to keep it to just one to two times a week—you don’t want to over-exfoliate).
While more than a few options exist on the market, DIY expert Adina Grigore, recommends whipping up your very own at home. Ahead, Grigore shares her recipe for a DIY candy cane sugar scrub, plus some best-use tips from a board-certified dermatologist.
Meet the Expert
Here's What You'll Need
- Cane Sugar
- Pink HImalayan Salt
- Coconut Oil
- Peppermint Essential Oil
- Matcha Tea
- Dried Clay Mask (Bentonite Is Recommended)
- Avocado or Olive Oil
The Ingredients: Benefits and Side Effects
Before getting into how to mix the ingredients, let’s go over why they’re worthwhile in the first place.
- Raw Sugar: According to Green, the ultra-small particles of raw sugar make it an excellent topical exfoliant. When used in body scrubs, it works to exfoliate dead surface skin cells to revely glowing, healthy-looking skin underneath. “Sugar scrubs also have a few benefits over salt scrubs such as hydration and gentleness,” she adds.
- Pink Himalayan Salt: While sugar makes for a more gentle scrub, Green says that adding a touch of pink Himalayan salt not only adds a touch more exfoliation, but also an antimicrobial element to the mixture—which can be especially beneficial if you’re hoping to address and treat body acne with the scrub. Plus, it takes the cleaning power of the scrub to a whole new level. “Salt absorbs dirt and toxins on top of having natural antibacterial properties,” she adds.
- Coconut Oil: Known to reduce inflammation and increase hydration, Green says coconut oil is a shoo-in for body scrubs and skincare as a whole. “The medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil also possess antimicrobial properties that can help treat acne and protect the skin from harmful bacteria,” she adds. On the downside, letting coconut oil soak into skin for long amounts of time can sometimes clog pores and contribute to breakouts. So, if you have oily skin, Green says to only leave the scrub on for a few minutes and to avoid overnight skincare formulated with the ingredient.
- Peppermint Essential Oil: This ingredient adds a delicious scent to the body scrub while adding to its natural cleansing ability. “Peppermint oil naturally cleanses the skin and has antiseptic and antibacterial properties,” Green explains. “It has a cooling effect which soothes irritation and inflammation due to acne. And, due to its antimicrobial properties, peppermint oil may help reduce levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin to help treat pimples (but you shouldn't rely on its powers alone).” That said, given it’s an essential oil, Green says that it can be potentially irritating. As a result, she recommends applying peppermint essential oil to your skin every few days before using the scrub to ensure your skin can tolerate it. “Stop use and wash off immediately if you develop any redness, burning, stinging, or peeling,” she instructs.
- Matcha Tea: This green tea might be one of the trendiest bevs around town, but it’s also a stellar skincare ingredient. “Green tea's anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce skin irritation, skin redness, and swelling,” Green says. “Applying green tea to your skin can soothe minor cuts and sunburn, too.”
- Bentonite Clay: If the goal is to remove toxins and balance oil production, Green says that Bentonite clay can help. “The clay can help remove sebum, or oil, from the skin's surface, and it may also have a calming effect on inflamed breakouts,” she explains. “Using a clay face (or body) mask can help remove impurities from the skin to treat acne or reduce the risk of pimples and skin infections.” The key thing to remember is that bentonite clay comes from the Earth, so it’s important to look for products that are tested for heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful substances to ensure you’re not slathering your skin with them.
- Avocado Oil: The green fruits are as good for your skin as they are for your diet. “Avocado oil contains a high percentage of vitamin E, as well as potassium, lecithin, and many other nutrients which can nourish and moisturize your skin,” Green shares. “The oleic acid also promotes collagen production, which helps grow new skin. This accelerates the healing process, helping with issues like sunburn.”
- Olive Oil: Here’s another oil that’s equally beneficial for your skin and diet. “If you're prone to acne, using [products] made with olive oil may help decrease your acne by killing off the bacteria that causes the acne,” Green says. “Olive oil is also known to moisturize and hydrate your skin.” What’s more, she shares that, since it’s high in antioxidants, it works well to protect the skin against environmental damage and inflammation.
Now that you’re fully versed on the ingredients and why they make for more than just a pretty, delightfully-scented scrub, keep reading to learn how to mix them together for ultimate skin benefits.
Create Layer One
Layer One Ingredients:
- ½ cup white or raw sugar
- ½ cup Pink Himalayan Salt
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 20 to 30 drops peppermint essential oil
Layer One Instructions:
“Combine sugar and salt and then press in coconut oil so that it soaks in and makes a scrub consistency,” Grigore says. “Add 20 peppermint drops, stir, and smell. Adjust accordingly.”
Then Mix Your Second Layer
Layer Two Ingredients:
- ½ cup matcha tea
- 2 tablespoons dried clay mask (like bentonite)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
Layer Two Instructions:
“Slowly combine matcha and clay,” Grigore instructs. “Stir avocado or olive oil in, making a liquidy green paste.”
Combine the Two Layers in a Jar
“In a four-to-eight-ounce clear jar, scoop layer one into the bottom of the jar,” Grigore says. “Next, add some of layer two on top.” Rotate between layers until you reach the top of the jar. Seal to store, and use a spoon to scoop when you’re ready to use. (If you want a little extra flair, sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Just don't scrub your skin with the pieces, as Grigore and Green say that doing so is far too harsh for the skin.)
Then Put Your Scrub to Use
Grigore says you have two options. “You can scrub down with one layer at a time—think of it as going between body scrub to body mask—or you can mix it all together and scrub down your entire body in the shower,” she says, noting to apply it in gentle circular motions before rinsing away.” It will leave you smelling like the holidays and looking glowy clean,” she exclaims.