Are Sugar Scrubs the Ultimate DIY for Softer Skin?

While we love the wide assortment of beauty products that are available to us, there is something to be said about the sweet simplicity of a homemade product. A good place to start? A sugar scrub. Composed of a few ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry, a DIY sugar scrub can be made in minutes (and is a fun project to let your kids join in on).

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Sugar Scrub?

For starters, sugar granules have an abrasive texture that make them a great physical exfoliant. And because sugar is a natural humectant, it draws moisture from the environment and into your skin, making it hydrating treatment as well (especially when combined with an oil, as most recipes call for).

Sugar is also known to be a form of glycolic acid (or an alpha hydroxy acid), which helps to break down the bonds between your skin cells and encourages the dead, flaky skin to slough off, while promoting cell turnover.

In sum, sugar scrubs offer the best of both physical and chemical exfoliation without the hefty price tag.

How To Make An Easy Diy Sugar Scrub

The first thing to consider is what type of sugar you want to use for your scrub. Good ol’ granulated sugar or pure cane sugar is generally well-tolerated on most skin types, while brown sugar is the least abrasive (which makes it a good option if you have sensitive skin). We’d exercise caution if you plan on using raw sugar or turbinado sugar, as it’s very coarse, and recommend using it only on thicker areas of skin like your legs and the soles of your feet.

If you’re not sure how your skin will react, do a quick patch test along your inner arm to see how your skin tolerates the scrub before going all in.

The other key component of a sugar scrub is the oil, which will give the scrub its spreadable consistency. Most recipes (including ours) call for coconut or olive oil, as they’re both highly moisturizing, but if you want something that’s more lightweight, try jojoba, sweet almond or sesame oil instead.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of coconut or olive oil
  • Essential oils optional
  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 wide-mouth mason jar

Step 1: Place the sugar and oil into the mixing bowl. (Note: If you’re using coconut oil, melt it separately before pouring it over the sugar.) Add the oil in slowly over the sugar and stir carefully so you don’t break down the crystals completely. You want the consistency to stay grainy.

Step 2: Option to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for added skincare and/or aromatherapy benefits here.

Step 3: Transfer your scrub to an airtight container (we suggest a wide-mouth mason jar for this) and voila! Your scrub is ready for use.

How To Use A Sugar Scrub

Generally speaking, so long as you don’t have an existing skin condition like psoriasis or eczema or an area of broken skin (i.e. from a rash, cut or wound), sugar scrubs are safe to use on your body. Given their grainy texture, sugar scrubs are especially effective at exfoliating dry, rough patches of skin that are typically found on your hinge joints like your ankles, elbows and knees.

To get the most from your sugar scrub, we recommend using it after you’ve showered and are still in the tub. Grab a towel and pat the excess moisture from your skin. Then, scoop out a tablespoon of scrub into the palms of your hands. Using a circular motion, massage the scrub over your limbs and torso (and anywhere else you have dry skin) before rinsing off.

For an even more spa-like experience, enjoy a luxurious soak in the tub first. After 20 to 30 minutes, drain the tub, pat your skin dry and get to scrubbing. Soaking your skin beforehand helps to soften the outermost layers, which makes it even easier to slough off dead cells.

A final word of caution: As with any type of exfoliation, you don’t want to overdo it. Think of your sugar scrub as a weekly (or bi-weekly) treatment to keep your skin soft and silky without causing unnecessary irritation.

How Long Will My Sugar Scrub Last?

That depends on how you use and store the scrub. The biggest factor in keeping your scrub in prime condition is limiting the amount of moisture it’s exposed to. Two easy ways you can do this is by using a spoon or scooper to get the scrub out of the jar instead of your fingers and keeping the lid secured tightly whenever the scrub isn’t in use.

Note that your scrub isn’t meant to have as long a shelf life as some of your store-bought products—especially since there are no preservatives in this recipe. Most scrubs should last up to two or three months, but if the scrub has hardened or the oil has gone rancid (which you’ll be able to sniff out) it’s time to make a new batch.

And if you’ve run out of sugar (or would rather just have your beauty products delivered to your doorstep), here are some sugar scrubs to shop below.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023
Jenny Jin

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...
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