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DIY coconut sugar scrub feels like you’re on vacation

Three ingredient DIY coconut sugar scrub

What was the first thing I did on vacation? Made this DIY coconut sugar scrub! My all-natural, homemade scrub for face and body uses only three ingredients to keep your skin soft and exfoliated.

Every December my dad, husband, kids and I fly to the Florida Keys. We love the swimming, restaurants, dive bars (this one’s kid friendly), and surprisingly rich history of Key West. Did you know the tiny island has three Civil War era forts? But, sun, fun, salt water, chlorine, a/c and long walks on sandy beaches can dry out your skin. Especially, delicate New Englander skin that has been protected under layers of clothing for three months.

Benefits of a sugar scrub

Sugar scrubs are all-natural and work better than just constantly slathering yourself in store-bought lotions. They can be used in the shower to help lock in all-day moisture. It depends on your skin and climate, but for some people, a sugar scrub in the shower replaces the need for face cream and body lotion. It could be an all-in-one.

My DIY coconut sugar scrub is vacation-themed and uses three simple ingredients you can pick up at the corner drugstore, small market or grocery on the first day of vacation. I did! Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, you can easily pack these ingredients in a carry-on or pre-make the DIY coconut sugar scrub before you travel.

Most of us have used body lotions without reading the ingredient list. Well, even if we stopped to read the ingredients, would we understand them? I am an avid reader of skin care ingredients, and I am always encountering some chemical or preservative that’s new to me. DIY body scrubs are made with simple ingredients you can pronounce…and probably already have on hand.

Is coconut oil safe?

Great question. If you have never used coconut oil in your skin care routine or are unsure if you have an allergy to it, test a patch of skin before you slather yourself in coconut oil.

For the vast majority of people, coconut oil is safe and wonderful for your skin. However, there are some people who develop a skin allergy to coconut oil. I know several of them personally, which is why I wrote this other post to encourage people to be mindful even when using natural ingredients in their skin care routine. Test before you slather.

Is coconut oil safer than a lotion that’s full of chemicals? I think so. There’s always one person in a group who says something to the effect of “chemicals are delicious” or “I prefer the chemicals.” But, most of the people who spend time at natural lifestyle blogs are not ‘that person’.

Three ingredient DIY coconut sugar scrub

DIY coconut sugar scrub recipe

60% granulated cane sugar
40% unrefined, organic coconut oil
(optional) squeeze of real lime juice

Why am I showing the recipe as a 60:40 ratio of sugar to coconut oil? If you are on vacation, you might not be able to measure exactly. I want to emphasize that it’s more sugar than coconut oil. That’s key to any sugar scrub. It’s usually a lot less oil than people imagine.

Unrefined coconut oil is less processed, which is why I recommend it. With less processing, more of the original properties of the coconut meal are retained, including a bit more of the sweet scent of coconut.

The acid in the citrus adds a little extra exfoliating, helping to clear away old, dead skin cells and bring out fresh cells underneath. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to skip the lime. As always, test your skin’s response before you rub your whole face with the scrub.

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Safe storage

If you are going to keep a sugar scrub in your shower, please use a plastic container. I know glass is more eco-friendly, but reusing plastic containers is a smart way to store your sugar scrubs in the shower. Glass is dangerous in a tiled bathroom. Broken glass in a shower – with all those tiny, invisible shards – is a nightmare. Be careful.

Any other warnings?

Hummm, I’m guess I’m a cautious person. Just looking out for you.

Let’s review:

1) Test coconut oil on your skin first
2) Use plastic, not glass for safer storage
3) Be careful, the shower floor could get slippery

On that last point, in our old house, my shower floor used to get slippery all the time when I used homemade sugar scrubs. For some reason, my shower floor doesn’t get slippery in our current home. Maybe it’s different tile surfaces?

Either way, be careful to check and see of your shower floor gets slippery from the oil in the sugar scrub. If it does, just put a little soap in your hand and rub it over the floor to clean it a bit after you use the scrub. Warn anyone who might go into the shower after you that the floor could be a bit slippery.

Enjoy your soft skin

In a few quick steps, you’ve made an all-natural DIY coconut sugar scrub that should make an instant difference in your skin.

With daily use, your skin should be softer and better moisturized. And, your wallet should be healthier too. No need to spend any additional money on expensive, store-bought lotions!

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Two common diy skincare ingredients you should think twice about

hand holding coconut oil sugar scrub

Did you ever have an unexpected reaction to a natural ingredient? Probably. People do all the time. The way a person’s system absorbs…or rejects…the compounds it comes in contact with is unique. While natural ingredients are wonderful, they are not risk-free. I can speak from experience. Here are two common diy skincare ingredients that are usually but, not perfectly, safe and how I found out.

It’s not all that surprising that we all process things differently. Think about your own family. You’re genetically related; yet, your Aunt says onions don’t agree with her. Grandpa avoids lactose. Your niece has a nut allergy. Your sister feels great since she’s gone gluten-free. One of your twin cousins is up all night if he drinks coffee, the other can down an espresso and crash on the couch for 12 hours. Or some similar scenario. You’re all processing natural foods differently.

The same is true when it comes to the natural ingredients you rub on your skin.

I mentioned that I had my own experience with this. Yes, me. Even a natural lifestyle blogger had to tone down my usage of a certain essential oil, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Here I am highlighting some of the dangers of two super common all natural ingredients you will see everywhere. Don’t avoid them, just think twice before you use them. Test them on a patch of skin. Be mindful when you use them. Be aware of how your skin reacts and that changes can occur over time.

The first occasionally-allergenic ingredient is…

Coconut oil

Cue the gasps.

The darling of the natural skincare world. Coconut oil is the base ingredient in an unbelievable number of Pintrest skin care pins. It might actually be the most common natural skin care go-to.

Widespread popularity is precisely the reason I am introducing the idea that coconut oil is not 100% fail-safe. The absolute worst time to learn that you are allergic to coconut oil is immediately after you just slathered yourself in a coconut oil body scrub.

Most people will tell you to use coconut oil on your skin and your baby’s skin, and everything is wonderful. Yet, I personally know two people with an allergy to coconut oil.

Coconut oil allergies are uncommon but do occur. They are not the same as tree nut allergies. If you were thinking that you would not be sensitive to coconut oil because you are not allergic to tree nuts, well, it turns out that those two allergies are not related.

What should you do?

The vast majority of people reading this post are not allergic to coconut oil; however, some of you will find that coconut oil clogs your pores or causes mild breakouts. And a few of you will realize overtime that you are so sensitive to coconut oil, it’s probably actually an allergy.

If you are not allergic to coconut oil, consider yourself lucky. It’s a wonderful, mild moisturizer that makes wonderful body scrubs and DIY skincare. If you haven’t tried coconut oil in your everyday skincare routine, test a patch of your skin to be sure you’re not allergic, and then, try my favorite, simple DIY recipe…

My favorite coconut skincare recipe is just unrefined, organic coconut oil mixed with sugar. In a pinch, you can use baking soda as well. If you have lime essential oil or a fresh lemon or lime, squeeze in a few drops. It smells delicious, and citrus and sugar make a natural glycolic acid. You can use this simple, effective coconut scrub on your face and body everyday in the shower. I find that it keeps my skin smoother than any store-bought product.
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Coconut oil with a coconut

Lavender essential oil

Oh this is not going to go over well. What could I possibly have against lavender essential oil? It is the world’s go-to miracle for sleeplessness and healing burns. Yeah, I know. It’s a wonderful oil. It’s gentle enough to be in tons of baby products. I really do like it. But, remember how I mentioned earlier that I had my own unexpected reaction to a natural skin care remedy?

My sister started selling essential oils about five years ago. Click here to visit her essential oils site. She told me a million times I had to try them. She said I’d love them. She couldn’t believe I didn’t already have a cabinet full of essential oils. It’s so up my alley. All true.

She studied the benefits and uses of each essential oil better than she ever studied for a class. She flew with her infant across the country to attend a conference. She was serious. And, she really enjoyed learning about the lesser-known uses for essential oils and sharing those with her friends and family.

DIY skincare warning

Lavender is often used in face oils for anti-aging. It’s a common ingredient in face creams, both DIY and store-bought. One of the lesser-known tips my sister found claimed that you should put a drop of lavender essential oil in your mascara to make your lashes grow long and lush.

I thought it was all great. I added lavender essential oil to my face creams and mascara. It made even the cheapest drug-store mascara smell like a luxury product. And my eyelashes…fell out. The exact opposite of what was supposed to happen.

At first I thought it was a fluke. I did not make the connection between my use of lavender on my face and eyes and the shedding of my eyelashes. To confess, it took me months and several delusional re-tries with the lavender in my creams and mascara to figure it out. But, the same thing kept happening. First, my lashes became patchy. Then, with continued use, I lost 40% of my eyelashes. It was noticeable.

selective focus photo of bottle with cork lid
Photo by Mareefe on

What did I do?

Mascara didn’t do me a whole lot of good when I was missing eyelashes. But, it still took me more than a year to be 100% sure why my eyelashes were falling out. How was I sure? I changed everything about my routine. I stopped using the face cream. And then, I switched to a new mascara, no additives.

My eyelashes slowly started growing back. It turns out, the only thing less attractive than missing eyelashes, is the spikey regrowth.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone will lose their eyelashes if they use lavender in their face products. In fact, you probably won’t, and if you do, it’s not serious…unless you’re an eyelash model, in which case you should put your resume together.

Back to my example of genetically-related people experiencing natural ingredients differently. My sister does not seem to lose her eyelashes when exposed to lavender essential oil. It’s just me. I am the only person I know who ever connected eyelash loss with lavender. Go figure.

Would you like to test fate?

Don’t avoid coconut oil or lavender.

Just don’t take for granted that they are safe because they are natural.

Tips for smart, safer use of natural skincare:
1) Test a patch of skin before you slather yourself
2) Be honest with yourself if you have a reaction (don’t live in disbelief like I did)
3) Pay attention over time because you might develop a reaction

Pick up some ingredients

If you want to make a sugar scrub with coconut oil, you can pick up the ingredients pretty cheaply at the grocery store or buy them on Amazon. I recommend unrefined, organic coconut oil. It is the least processed and preserves more of the natural properties of the fruit. (Yes, coconut is generally considered a fruit.) Use cheap granulated cane sugar. Turbinado aka raw sugar is too rough. If you have baking soda in your kitchen, you can substitute that instead of sugar.

Keep scrolling to use my quick links and have the ingredients shipped directly to your house.

If you have a little extra disposable income, you can try adding in a few drops of lime essential oil. It’s pretty expensive though. You can just squeeze in a drop of lime juice from the real thing. Just warning you, the scent will be absorbed into the coconut oil for the most part.

Lavender essential oil is also a wonderful product. I still use it. I just use it more carefully than I did before.

You might also enjoy this article on why I prefer to use sugar in a scrub rather than coffee grounds.

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DIY coffee scrub

Coconut and coffee body scrub

A few days ago, I wrote about how I feel about coffee scrubs. In the post, I suggested that you make your own, try it out and decide for yourself what your feelings are about coffee scrubs. It’s only fair that I give you some directions about how to make a DIY coffee scrub if I’m going to suggest you try it!

Body scrubs, in general

Scrubs like these can be made with a sugar, salt or coffee base and are blended with natural oils to exfoliate and soften the skin. It’s basically food for the skin, as all good natural skincare should be.

I make body scrubs for my friends – both men and women – on a regular basis. My kids like them so much, I use the promise of a shower scrub as a way to talk them into taking a shower.

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Not really a DIY-er? No problem. You can skip to the punchline here by just buying a ready-made coffee scrub from a verified handcrafter. It is a great gift idea for the coffee lover in your life!

But, if you want to put in the effort, it should be pretty easy to make your own scrub. I recommend you use it in the shower. As I have written before, coffee scrubs can be messy, and it’s best to keep it contained.

One major caveat: some people are allergic to coconut. If you are not sure if you have a coconut allergy, don’t slather your body in coconut oil.

If you are not allergic to coconut, check your kitchen. Do you have coffee grounds, coconut oil, sugar and vanilla? If so, let’s go.

Coconut oil on a white marble countertop

DIY coffee scrub

1/2 cup coffee grounds (used or unused but why would you not get a cup of coffee out of this?)
1/2 cheap brown sugar (Cheap white sugar will do, too. Don’t use Turbinado raw sugar, it’s too rough)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
(optional) 10 drops of essential oils, like lime, wild orange or peppermint

Dump the ingredients into a shatter-proof bowl and mix until well blended.
That’s it. Easy, like I like it.
Some directions online recommend warming the coconut oil for 20 seconds in the micro before mixing. If you do that, it’s best to add the sugar after you blend the oils and coffee together. The sugar melts a little otherwise.
There will likely be lumps of coconut oil left in your blend. Don’t worry about it. They are like little bursts of moisture.
I do not recommend you store your scrub in a glass bowl if you are going to use this near stone countertops or tile floors. Broken glass is a scary proposition for a shower.
Wet your skin and rub it with the coffee scrub.
Let it soak into your skin for a minute if you have the time.
Rinse off.

You might never look at used up coffee grounds in quite the same way after you shower together.

Coconut and coffee body scrub

How to store coffee scrubs:
In the fridge, coffee could grow mold if you don’t use it right away.
In an ice cube or silicone mold in your freezer, then in your fridge in adorable little single-use cubes.

When should you use the scrub?

You can use a body scrub in the shower everyday. If your skin seems irritated, it might be too much exfoliation for you. Just skip a few days. My skin is pretty average, and I am able to use body scrubs in the shower everyday with incredible, skin-smoothing results.

My review of coffee scrubs is controversial. I love that they are natural and reuse coffee grounds that would otherwise go into the trash or compost pile. But, overall I think they are just ok.

How often do I use coffee scrubs?

I do make them on occasion, but most of the time, I use sugar scrubs.

Olive oil and sugar scrubs are not as messy as coffee scrubs and are easier to use on your face. I don’t recommend using coffee scrubs near your eyes. Sometimes those rough little coffee grounds end up inside your eyelid. It’s an unpleasant experience.

Do I have to use it in the shower?

You can use it in any sink, if you are just looking to use it on your hands to counteract the drying effects of soap; however, coffee grounds can be sludgy and messy. I only use it in the shower. A sugar-based scrub is likely a better choice to keep near your bathroom or kitchen sink for after-soap skincare.

Please scroll down a bit and leave a comment to let us know what you think about coffee scrubs. How do they work for you?

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