This body scrub is like breakfast: oatmeal, coffee, and honey. The perfect formula for a good morning, right?
I know, I know, this is a total departure from food (although you could eat this body scrub if you really had the deep urge to do so). I am hoping to increase the focus of the blog and include more information about natural health, sustainable living, mindful life choices, and all the other DIY stuff I'm into. Don't worry, I'll still have lots of good recipes - I'll just be including other information as well! I reorganized the blog a little to make it easier to follow, and I'm ready and rarin' to get this train moving. So, here we go, starting with something delightful for the bath. Why? Well, in the wise words of the band Phish, "Cause we're all in this together, and we love to take a bath!"
Yeah, I used to be a total Phish follower, patchwork skirt, semi-nappy hair, and all. It was a different life. Moving on...
For anyone who is chemically sensitive or has allergies, finding body products can be a real pain in the you-know-what. Anything that you are allergic to digestively you may also be sensitive topically, so you need to be careful when buying your producets. Check those labels and you might find that you're loading your body up with tons of allergens! Wheat, corn, soy, and nut oils are all over the place, in everything from shampoo to lotion to makeup to soaps. Depending on your sensitivity, you may react to these ingredients, so it is best to run a trial period without them to see if your symptoms improve when not applying them to your skin. Store-bought body products also contain additives, stabilizers and fragrances that may cause additional irritation. Additionally, you never can be sure how fresh they are, and I've inadvertently purchased rancid product from even reputable, quality companies. Yuck!
This being said, I keep it pure when it comes to my body products. I have had sensitive skin for as long as I can remember, and most fragrances cause me a severe headache and nausea. These reactions have only become more pronounced with age and Lyme treatment. My cosmetic cabinet and bath is pretty simple: olive oil soap, Dr. Bronner's castille soap, Nature's Gate shampoo, straight coconut oil or grapeseed oil, and epsom salts. I recently discovered a great, unscented coconut oil-based lotion made by a local company, Wyndmere, in bulk at my local co-op (you can also buy it online, click the link). I absolutely love it, and it is such a treat to have a real lotion! Otherwise, that's about it; I've become pretty low maintenance.
I do, however, have one indulgence: body scrubs. I love them! I started making my own exfoliants and body scrubs when I was young. My mom is a massage therapist and had all sorts of books about aromatherapy and herbs and stuff lying around, and learned about a lot of natural masques, scrubs, and the like when she was in school. Being an inquisitive and crafty child, I started experimenting. I ground up nuts and mixed them with egg whites. I made scrubs from sugar and honey and coffee grounds. I steamed my face over hot bowls of tea tree and eucalyptus water. I gave myself spa nights with body scrubs of olive oil, brown sugar, and sea salt. I mashed up avocados and sliced up cucumbers and did all sorts of things. I sourced out French green clay.
Ah yes, the crunchy explorations of a young neo-hippie child.
This is one of my favorite natural body scrubs. I love it, and have been making variations on this for years. It is simple and pure: oatmeal, raw honey, sugar, coffee grounds, and a little high quality oil. It sounds like the makings of some kind of fancy no-bake pie crust or truffle or something, but I wouldn't really recommend eating it - I think that quantity of coffee grounds would send your body into shock or something. :)
Exfoliating your skin has many benefits, and this is a great way to do it. Oatmeal is naturally moisturizing, and along with coffee grounds and sugar, provides a gentle grit that sloughs off dead skin cells, helps with detoxification, and increases circulation. Honey has long been valued as a powerful moisturizer and detoxifier. The caffeine in the coffee actually helps increase blood flow to the skin surface and can help enhance firmness. And finally, a splash of olive oil or grapeseed oil - or a little of both - add wonderful antioxidants, polyphenols, and moisture. If you're feeling fancy, you can add some cacao nibs too; they add antioxidants and yummy smell. You can also choose to fortify it with vitamin C crystals, liquid vitamin D, or squeeze out vitamin E capsules if you feel so inclined. Whether you keep it simple or get more complicated, this stuff smells incredible, works like a charm, and is perfect for smoothing out your skin for swimsuit, sundress, and tank top season. It also works great to get garden dirt off hands.
If you are gluten-sensitive or allergic to wheat, make sure to use GF oatmeal. Regular oatmeal is often contaminated with wheat, and it may cause irritation, even if only used topically. You'll need some coffee grounds, so if you don't drink coffee, you can just grind up some whole beans, or borrow used grounds from someone else. I don't drink coffee anymore, so I take leftover used coffee grounds from the coffee machine at work (it's all about being resourceful, people).
Besides the fact that making your own body scrub is fun and economical, it is also healthful: you can be certain that you aren't getting hidden allergens, chemicals, or preservatives, and that your ingredients are fresh and high-quality. Here's another fun thing: homemade body scrubs make great gifts! Put some in cute little jars, tie a ribbon around it, and you've got a one-of-a-kind, economical gift that is sure to please.
Good Morning Homemade Natural Body Scrub
yields about 1 3/4 cups
This scrub is mild enough that you could use it every day on your body, but I wouldn't recommend using it on your face (it is a little too coarse for sensitive facial skin). Keep it basic, or feel free to fortify with vitamins C, D, and E for an extra boost of skin-supportive nutrients.
1 cup gluten free oatmeal
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic coffee grounds (brewed or fresh)
1/2 cup raw honey (see update at bottom of post for vegan substitution options)
2 Tbsp organic olive oil, grapeseed oil, or mix (or other tolerated high quality oil like almond, coconut, apricot kernal, or palm)
optional: 1/2 tsp vitamin C crystals
optional: 2-3 drops vitamin D liquid
optional: 1-2 capsules vitamin E, liquid squeezed out
optional: 1-2 Tbsp raw cacao nibs (adds more grit, antioxidants, and a great smell)
optional: 1 tsp cinnamon (smells delish)
Place oats (and coffee beans, if grinding fresh) in a food processor and pulse until fine. Add grounds, sugar and vitamin C crystals, and pulse a few times, then add honey and oil, as well as vitamin D drops, and pulse to form a paste. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. If you'd like, you can scoop out a small amount and keep in the bath, whatever you'll use that week.
To use, spread on damp skin and gently rub in circular motions. Rinse skin well and pat skin dry. Lovely!
One of my vegan readers left a comment asking how to substitute the honey. In addition to providing antibacterial, moisturizing, and detoxifying properties, the honey acts as a nice sticky goo to hold it all together. So, you basically need to substitute something with a similar consistency. While many substitutes won't have the same skin nourishing benefits, it will provide the "stick". Here are a few ideas...
- Try using aloe vera gel! I think this would be the most cost effective and most skin nourishing substitute, and its naturally thick, gloppy consistency should work like a charm. Aloe is very soothing and moisturizing for the skin, so it would also have a therapeutic benefit.
- Try using another natural sweetener like brown rice syrup or agave nectar. Maple syrup is too expensive to use for something like this, but if you're feeling rich or live on a sugarbush, go for it.
- Try using vegetable glycerin. NOW Foods makes a food-grade glycerin, you can also find medical-grade glycerin at many drug stores and pharmacies.
Good luck, and please let me know how it works for you if you substitute honey with one of these options or with something else!