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Sugar Scrubs Soften Scratchy Skin
by Karen Atkins

I can still turn red with shame, remembering my grandmother’s reaction to my gardening-horseback-riding hands. “Oh, Karen,” she would say, shaking her head. “You can always tell a lady by her hands.” Even Scarlett O’Hara, having fooled Rhett Butler that she was doing just fine, thank you, was given away by her hands.

Rhett: “What have you done with your hands?”

Scarlett: “I went riding last week without my gloves.”

Rhett: “These don't belong to a lady. You've worked with them like a field hand.”

Commercially available sugar scrubs like this can range in price from $10-50 per jar.1

Well I’m not about to give up gardening or riding horses, so I found a secret weapon you are going to love – sugar scrubs. I began buying these a few years ago, and after I found out what they did for my hands, I started using them on my face and body. But it got kind of expensive at $10 a jar, and stores didn’t always have scrubs with the fragrances I liked.

So, I started making my own for less than $3 a jar. Sugar scrubs take fewer than five minutes to assemble, make terrific gifts and you can store them on the counter for up to two months, in anything as plain as a mason jar or something fancier. The jars are reusable and no animals will have been harmed in testing.

The best part is that you can get started with my easy recipes and then saunter on with your own unique adaptations. So are you in?

The basic recipe for sugar scrub is simple. Use one part oil to two parts sugar, then add a few drops of scented oil or spices. The variations on this theme are endless, but here are some keepers:

The basic recipe for sugar scrub is simple. Use one part oil to two parts sugar, then add a few drops of scented oil or spices.2

Pumpkin Sugar Scrub

1 cup brown sugar
½ cup walnut oil
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Lemon Sugar Scrub

1 cup white granulated sugar
⅓ cup almond oil
A few drops of lemon essential oil

Rosemary Sugar Scrub

2 cups white granulated sugar
⅓ cup olive oil
A few drops rosemary essential oil

Sources for Essential Oil:

  1. Local drugstores
  2. Online retailers (bulkapothecary.com, essentialoils4less.com, amazon.com)

    Pumpkin Sugar Scrub contains just brown sugar, walnut oil and pumpkin pie spice.2

    Homemade sugar scrub can be stored on the counter for up to two months in pretty, reusable containers.2
Enjoying Sugar Scrubs

Run very warm water over your skin. Rub the sugar scrub anywhere you want to remove dead skin cells and expose healthier skin. Rinse with cooler water and pat dry, being careful not to remove the oil, which will hold in the moisture and give you a healthy glow. Are you wondering by now why I haven’t recommended salt scrubs? I’ll tell you why – they sting. I have had to stifle screams when salt came in contact with a scratch on my arm in the bathtub and I don’t want you going through it.


1. Photo by Bath Nation
2. Photo courtesy of Karen Atkins, Proper Gardens Grand Rapids

Posted March 2014


Karen Atkins owns Proper Gardens, a landscape design firm. She designed the Victorian Gardens for the Merrick Art Gallery, the Pioneer Entrance Garden for Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, and many award-winning gardens for residential clients. Karen loves to help and hear from other gardeners. Book her for speaking engagements through greatgardenspeakers.com.



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