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3 reasons I just cannot get into coffee-based body scrubs

Coffee and coconut body scrub for the shower

Maybe you’ve heard of sugar scrubs and salt scrubs (a.k.a. sea salt scrubs or dead sea salt scrubs). I love them. Sugar scrubs are my favorite only because salt will burn if it gets into your scrapes or eyes. I pretty much use a sugar scrub every time I shower, and I make them for my friends (half of the people who ask me for one are guy friends). There’s another option that’s popular for natural body buffing and polishing: coffee scrubs.

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Feel free to leave a comment and disagree with or confirm any of the points I’m making in this article. Your ideas and opinions are welcome. You may even end up doing an experiment yourself. I would encourage you to try a coffee scrub DIY or buy one and make up your own mind about them.

Typically, these coffee scrubs are made from a blend of coffee grounds, brown sugar and coconut oil. Lovely ingredients as long as you don’t have a coconut allergy, and I don’t have any allergies. No, allergies are not one of the reasons I can’t get into coffee scrubs.

I love handmade soaps. Some handmade soaps have coffee grounds blended into them to produce a more exfoliating experience. I do like those soaps. Bars of handmade soaps are very different from oil and coffee-based shower scrubs.

You will see these beautiful photos of coffee scrubs online and on social media. For the record, I don’t have anything against coffee scrubs. In fact, I will likely continue to use them on occasion. Coffee scrubs exfoliate your skin and hold skin-softening oils well.

Once I ran into an old friend on a flight to Chicago. We sat together (Southwest open seating). It was wonderful. She mentioned she loves coffee scrubs. She strongly preferred them to sugar scrubs. It sparked my interest so I went home and made a coffee scrub that weekend. It was just ok.

Why I just can’t get into coffee scrubs

Three reasons why I just can’t get into coffee-based body scrubs:

  1. If you use them on your face, you may end up with rough coffee grounds in your eye.
  2. They leave brown coffee muck under my fingernails.
  3. The coffee grounds get all over my shower.

Coffee in your eye

How did I find out that you might get coffee grounds in your eye? The hard way. Twice.

You can avoid this one if you don’t use the coffee scrub to wash your face or scalp and are careful not to rub your eye before you’ve washed off every single ground from your hands. But, I am looking for the easiest approach to natural skincare. If there are too many restrictions on a product, it’s just not easy enough for me. Plus, pretty much the only time I wash my face is when I’m in the shower. Using a sugar scrub after washing my face adds instant moisture and polishes my skin. I want something I can use from my head to my toes.

Coffee muck

When you rub your body with a coffee scrub, it leaves coffee residue on your skin. It’s a lot like the sludge you may see at the bottom of a coffee cup or carafe. Now, that’s not such a big deal, especially if you only use the scrub in the shower. It only takes an extra 20 seconds in the shower to wash the coffee sludge off your skin.

The thing I don’t like is that after I use a coffee scrub, it leaves bits of muck and coffee grounds under my fingernails. Dirty fingernails might not be such a big deal. Gardeners don’t generally mind dirt under their fingernails all that much. I don’t use gardening gloves, and during gardening season, there’s always a little dirt under mine.

It’s more the discomfort of having coffee grounds under my nails that I dislike. Ok, I’m sure I could use unused grounds instead of brewed coffee grounds, put them through the grinder and make them much finer.  But, now we’ve exceeding the amount of effort I want to put into making a body scrub, especially since I use them every day. I want to be able to blend up a scrub quickly in the middle of checking other stuff off my hectic working parent To-Do list.

Grounds up the wall

I have used body scrubs in the shower for years and plan to use them for the rest of my life. Usually, the only thing I am worried about is leaving a bit of a slippery sheen on the tiles. I do not want to worry about leaving coffee grounds or sludge splattered all around my shower tiles.

Coffee grounds on white marble shower tile

If you’re a bit of a clean freak or you don’t have children, you probably clean your shower more often than I do. In between major cleanings, I don’t want to do much more work than a few sprays of mildew remover.

When I use coffee scrubs in my shower, I end up having to fill a cup with water and splash it on the walls over and over again to clean every speck of coffee off the tiles. Ideal effort level exceeded again.

Three reasons I prefer sugar scrubs to coffee scrubs in my shower

One more thing

Even if you use yummy coconut oil and vanilla (I recommend Mexican vanilla) and elegant essential oils in your coffee scrub, it still leaves the faint scent of cigarette ash on your skin for the first 15 minutes or so after your shower. It may stay on your skin a little longer than that, but I don’t seem to notice it after 15 minutes.

Why would coffee ground residue smell like cigarette ash? I’m not sure. I am not a smoker, but my Gram was. She smelled of Nivea face cream, Maxwell House and Pall Mall cigarettes. She also died of cancer so please don’t take this as an endorsement. But, after I use a coffee scrub in the shower, it reminds me of the smell of my Gram. If I used Nivea after my coffee scrub, I’d be having serious childhood flashbacks. She would be so mad at me for telling you she smelled like cigarettes.

What do you think?

Ok, before I annoy my late Gram any more, I’ll turn this over to you.

Have you experimented with coffee scrubs? Can you connect with any of the points I’ve made? Maybe you wrote a totally contrary post about how much you love coffee scrubs. I respect that. Please scroll down to share your comments or questions.

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Forgotten herb: calendula

Weird name. Amazing herb.

Close enough pronounciation “ca-len-juh-la” (how a “d” makes a “j” sound in English, I suppose it’s my Connecticut accent.)

calendula colander.JPG

Calendula is the weirdest looking seed I plant in my garden. Really, it looks like something from an alien nation. It’s mildly spikey and curved, almost in an arrogant way. It grows easily and goes to seed easily, if you don’t harvest the blooms.

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Planting is easy. I just mix the seed lightly into turned soil with my hand, and it fills my cedar raised bed with bright yellow flowers.


When your flowers are almost fully open, it is time to harvest. If it rained recently or the petals still have morning dew on them, take a photo but don’t start your harvest. It pays to wait until the sun dries off any dampness. The blooms snap off the stems easily. You can layer your plantings a bit and gather them by hand almost all season from summer to fall. Consider getting yourself an airy and convenient basket for harvest time.

I don’t eat my calendula with the exception of a little petal here and there. They have a bitter taste.

In terms of other uses, I am not sure why would you need to do this, but Dr. Weil notes that you can mix white rice and calendula flowers together to color the rice without adding flavor. Someday, I may suggest that to my kids as a fun and interesting STEM experiment.

My favorite use for calendula isn’t making a stunning bouquet, although you could. I like to infuse olive oil with a bunch of dried calendula flowers. Then, I can add the infusion add it to salves. Salves are just heavy, solid lotions that are intended to be soothing to the skin or to wounds.

Not one to waste something so precious, I like the idea of chopping up those oil-soaked petals and mixing them into homemade soaps. Do not compost them. You shouldn’t compost oil or oil-infused herbs. Your bin will stink.

How do you dry calendula flowers? It doesn’t take much effort.

Oh, I know the internet will tell you to separate out the blooms on an old screen in a dry, dark place between two elevated stands. But I’ll tell you that during our BIG reno last year, I put my calendula flowers on a paper towel on top of our refrigerator. How’d it go? Just fine. I must have left them up there for a month or two, and dutifully, they dried out. I will likely include some in a salt or sugar scrub for beauty’s sake.

calendula marble2

I should confess that my husband is 6’3″ tall. He could see the top of our old fridge and was not a fan of my messy flower drying station. Everyone else was oblivious.

About the scent, I am almost at a loss for words to describe it. Calendula is only lightly floral. It’s about 5% tangy, 5% medicinal, 60% fresh, 20% floral and 10% other. Mainly, I would describe calendula as a fresh scent. It’s not earthy. It’s more like the woods after a rain shower.

My calendula bed went above and beyond this year, producing three harvests. I only actually reseeded it once during the mid-summer season.  Calendula is so easy. It is one of the best students in my garden class. I feel like I ask calendula nicely to keep producing blooms, and it does its best to comply.

Calendula is such a happy flower. As you go about your day today, from time-to-time think back to this joyful bloom.


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Return to the Forgotten Herbs series.

Find out what borage is.