Saturday, September 12, 2009

Homemade cosmetics. Part 7. Body scrubs.

12 Spetember 2009

Hi everyone! I am finally on vacation. Avalon, beach house. It's already dusk. The sky is turning colors from deep purple to violet with a touch of crimson. I wonder about tomorrow's weather for a second, but not going to check it. Let it be a surprise. Nothing be bad when you are in heaven. Nice breeze is coming through the open balcony door, and Gypsy kings are singing. George is flipping through the pages of "Three cups of tea" by Greg Mortinson. If this is not heaven, I don't know what is. This is why I want to talk about my most favorite homemade beauty concoctions: heavenly body scrubs.
 One can never go wrong with them. I love to mix, improvize, work on scents, consistency. Sometimes freshly made scrubs smell so good you just want to eat them. I swear, if I was not a physician, I would become a beautician who specializes on making and selling body scrubs for living. Anyways, let me start.

Body scrubs

OK, body scrubs. Did you realize that women have been using them since ancient times? It was known that Cleopatra’s slaves regularly rubbed her down with a mixture of honey and myrrh. It’s easy to get lost in the modern variety of commercial body scrubs choices from various manufacturers. One thing is certain: all of them cost a fortune, and all of them contain basic ingredients that can be easily found and reproduced, saving you tons of money. You can effortlessly make at home a huge jar of scrub, spending just $10-15, which will last you forever. The basic ingredients include sugar and/or salt, or natural oats, used as an exfoliant (to mechanically remove the dead skin layers); other simple things like honey, vegetables, or fruits to nourish and smoothen the skin; and some kind of oil to moisturize the skin and keep the scrub together in a paste-like consistency. I guarantee you: you will never stop making them and using them once you start. I got totally hooked on body scrubs. You will need the following “instruments”: a coffee grinder (or a food processor), a bowl, a spoon, and a storage jar. And a smile on your face combined with a good time and huge money savings will become a necessary attribute!

There are a couple of things you need to know before experimenting with body scrubs. As a general rule, if you don’t have oily body skin, you can use any oil as a base for a scrub (oil, canola, almond, cocoa, jojoba, or any vegetable oil, or even a massage oil of your choice). If you do have oily skin, however, use olive oil. Two essential ingredients in any body scrub are the exfoliant (sugar, salt, ground oats, or ground coffee) and oil (or lotion) to hold it together and moisturize the skin. One of the most popular ingredients in body scrubs is brown sugar. Brown sugar has smaller grains than regular, white sugar which makes it a perfect gentle exfoliant. It has a delicious smell, and leaves the skin smooth and velvety.

This is how you make a basic sugar body scrub:

1 cup of brown (or simple granulated) sugar

¼ cup canola oil (olive oil, baby oil, etc…. you’ve got the idea!)

Mix both ingredients and rub the skin while taking a shower.

You can substitute sugar for salt, or oats, or ground coffee, or a combination of the above to your liking, but all of them will do the basic job of cleaning, exfoliating, smoothing, and moisturizing the skin and making glow! Depending on the specific goals you would like to achieve for your skin, one may add mashed avocado for moisturizing and rejuvenating dry or tired skin, oatmeal for soothing sensitive, itchy skin or for absorbing an excess oil in case of oily skin; aloe vera gel (or freshly squeezed juice if you have a real plant at home) for healing irritations; freshly squeezed lemon juice for cleaning clogged pores and natural disinfection. Read this chapter for recipes and more solutions. At the end of the chapter you can find a table of organic ingredients that we can use in homemade cosmetics, as well as their beneficial properties.

Body scrub #2 (sugar/oatmeal)

¼ cup brown sugar

1 Tbs dry milk powder

2 Tbs natural oatmeal (grind it ahead of in a coffee grinder or a food processor to a desired consistency, like granulated sugar, sand, or sea salt). Do not use instant oatmeal!

½ tsp vanilla extract (for scent, optional)

¼ cup coconut, olive, or any vegetable oil available

Milk contains lactic acid which helps to slough off dead skin cells. Oatmeal is hypoallergenic and soothing for sensitive skin, and helps dry skin to regain moisture. It’s also a great oil absorbent and works well for oily skin.

Body scrub #3 (sugar/oatmeal/aloe)

2 Tbs brown sugar

2 Tbs natural oatmeal (grind it in a coffee grinder ahead of time to flaky, light consistency of sand)

2 Tbs aloe vera gel

1 Tbs honey

1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp of any natural oil (olive, safflower, sunflower, coconut, almond, etc.)

Mix all ingredients to a paste-like consistency. Scrub the skin using your fingers. Wash with warm water.

Honey is an excellent natural moisturizer and leaves the skin baby-soft. It also is a strong antibacterial agent. We already discussed beneficial properties of oatmeal, lemon juice, and aloe vera gel.

Body scrub #4 (chocolate)

3 Tbs cocoa powder

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Olive oil as needed (or any vegetable oil of you don’t have oily skin)

Mix ingredients except oil. Add oil gradually for a desired consistency. Use as any scrub while in the shower. Rinse well.

Cocoa is reach in antioxidants and has softening properties, not to mention it smells like chocolate and can be used to boost mood and energy.

Body scrub #5 (great cheap coffee scrub) (three ingredients only)

3 cups of coffee grounds—the dregs remaining after brewing ground coffee (any cheap ground coffee will do)

½ cup of raw sugar or sea salt

2-3 tbsp of massage oil (any cheap massage oil will do) or any oil of your choice (olive, etc.)

My personal favorite scrub of all times is a “no-brainer” coffee scrub using just fresh coffee grounds alone, without any additives. Rub yourself with it vigorously while taking a shower and the results will be truly amazing! Make sure you rinse it off well, and clean the mess in the tub. Trust me, it is well worth the hassle.

Optional additions in home made scrubs may include: brown sugar (as much as needed to reach the desired consistency for more coarse scrub with a nice, sweet smell), vanilla extract (sweet scent, thinner scrub consistency), a dash of cinnamon (exotic, sharp smell), and 2-3 drops of essential oil of your choice. Experiment, have fun! Mix the ingredients together in a bowl, and use the scrub several times a week while in the shower, working it into your skin with your fingertips or a washcloth. The only downside of this scrub is that it is slightly messy and carries a slight potential of clogging the shower drain. To avoid this, grind your coffee really fine. Believe me; an occasional need to use a plunger (I hope not a plumber!) is a very small inconvenience to pay for the benefits of this wonderful and cheap treatment. The good news is that you may keep all nice jars that used to contain those expensive body butters, scrubs, creams, and reuse them to keep your new cheap and organic concoctions that cost five-ten times less.

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