I have a deep and abiding affection for scrubby products. When I was younger, it was because my skin was a mess and I liked to imagine the scrubs were helping clear out the gunk. Now, I like them after my long-run weekend workouts: It gets rid of all the caked-on sweat, and massaging it on is kind of like a reward for my legs, a little “thanks for not falling off back at mile 8” sort of thing. (Not that they would fall off, but you know…)
Anyway, the problem with commercial scrubs? You get what you pay for. For example: Drug-store St. Ives Apricot Scrub? Highly effective, very affordable… but also rough and drying on the ol’ skin. (Yes, I know it’s marketed for the face. But it works everywhere.) Special-order Arbonne SeaSource Foaming Sea Salt Scrub? (My favorite!) Fantastic on the ol’ skin, but a bit harsh on the wallet. Now, we all need little indulgences, but I like to save my indulgences for things I can’t replicate myself, like a good haircut or a really awesome butterscotch malt. Does body scrub really fit that category?
Challenge: Body Scrub
I’ll compare the homemade against the Arbonne Foaming Sea Salt Scrub, because I ended up throwing away my St. Ives half-finished, it was so hard on my skin. If my at-home scrub is going to pass muster, it needs to be natural, it needs to be smoothing, it needs to be gentle, and it needs to smell wonderful.
The Arbonne scrub contains spirulina, sea kelp, bladderwrack, sea fennel, a fancy brand-name sea salt, sunflower oil, safflower oil, hazel seed oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, and vitamins E and F.
The homemade scrub I made followed/adapted a recipe from savvybrown.com.
1 cup turbinado sugar (also sold as “raw”, like Sugar in the Raw)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup sweet almond oil (If you’re allergic to nuts or can’t find sweet almond oil, try grapeseed oil, jojoba oil or avocado oil.)
10 drops each lavender and lemon essential oils (Or, for a more masculine-smelling scrub, try cedarwood, cypress or patchouli essential oils.)
To make this, put your brown sugar into a container. Then add the white. The brown and white sugars have respectively more coarse and more fine textures, which creates an effective scrub that doesn’t scratch.
Add your oil.
Stir it up. Add your essential oils. Stir some more.
That’s pretty much it. As the scrub sits, the oil separates out a bit, but that’s nothing to worry about. Stir the oil back in… or just reach through the oil to get the scrub stuff. It works well either way. Also, to make it less oily, add sugar. To make it more oily, add oil. It’s super easy to customize.
Time and Cost Comparison
To purchase the Arbonne salt scrub, you do have to order online or through an Arbonne consultant. So, that takes a day or two to arrive, but it’s passive time. You don’t have to do anything. The cost? $35 for 200 ml, or about $0.17 per ml.
To make the sugar scrub, it took about 10 minutes to mix everything together, and about 5 minutes to clean up the scrubby spills. I spent a total of $10.15 for the ingredients, and another $2 for the fancy glass jar. So total cost was $12.15. And it filled the 500 ml glass jar, which works out to about $0.02 per ml.
There’s nothing in either of these products to really find offensive. The Arbonne salt scrub is made of, basically, a mix of fancy sounding algae, seaweed, sea salt, oils and vitamins. And the homemade mix is sugar and oil.
As for sugar vs. salt: Some people claim salt is very drying, although mixed with oil, I would think it’d balance out. However, the salt shouldn’t be used in a recently shaved or about-to-be-shaved area. Why? Salt + cuts = OW!
Scent and Feel Comparison
The Arbonne scrub comes out as a thick liquid with scrubby stuff suspended in it. Massage it on, and it foams up a little bit. It doesn’t feel harsh or scratchy. It smells slightly salty, and like… some fragrance I can’t identify. A clean smell. When it’s washed off, the skin feels soft, if a little tight.
The homemade scrub comes out as a softly grainy mixture, somewhere between a solid and a liquid. Massage it on, and it spreads easily, and holds its grainy texture. It doesn’t feel harsh or scratchy. It smells like lavender and lemon. When it’s washed off, the skin remains a little bit oiled, but the oil is absorbed quickly, so by the time you leave the bathroom, your skin is smooth and super moisturized.
I’d say 2.5. It’s easy to mix up, although the specialty ingredients likely mean having to plan ahead and order online, or find and visit a specialty store in your area. The making of it couldn’t be easier.
DIY or Buy?
DIY, because it’s so much less expensive, and because mixing your own scents is really fun. Plus, the homemade has the bonus of being uber-moisturizing, which the purchased stuff didn’t quite do. However, if you care deeply about the texture, the Arbonne scrub has a slightly better feel straight out of the bottle.
For fragrance, you’ll have to invest a few bucks into some essential oils that you like (and by a few, I mean anywhere from $5 to $30, depending on the scent and the amount). But that will last you through many, many rounds of scrub. You can always add them to your own lip balm, too! Or just skip that entirely for a more affordable, if less fragrant, scrub.
Do you use body scrub? Why or why not?