As much as we treasure (read: hoard) our favorite, perfectly packaged skincare products, every so often we get the urge to rummage through our pantry and concoct an epic DIY formula. Unfortunately, after living through more Pinterest fails and clogged drains than we’d like to admit, we’ve grown weary when it comes to experimenting with homemade beauty products.
Still, when our angry, winter skin started begging for a new body scrub, we decided to keep our wallets closed and instead consult Ava Shamban, M.D., dermatologist and DIY advocate, for her favorite recipes. And, damn, are we glad we did.
“You don’t need to spend a fortune on a packaged scrub that’s full of preservatives when you can make it yourself,” says Dr. Shamban. “The best part about a DIY is that you’re able to customize it to whatever your skin needs at the time, because sometimes your skin is rough and needs to be exfoliated, and sometimes it’s dry and needs extra hydration.”
Ahead, Dr. Shamban breaks down her three favorite DIY body scrub recipes—all of which are not only genuinely easy to create (even for complete newbies), but also incredibly effective. Get ready for your new favorite guard against the Sunday Scaries.
According to Shamban, brown sugar is a powerful player in the DIY world, thanks to the fact that it’s packed with wrinkle-fighting glycolic acid, as well as natural humectants to keep your skin soft and smooth. Mix that with skin-soothing oats, antioxidant-rich coconut oil, and a gentle base cream (Shamban recommends cult-favorite Vanicream), and you’ve got yourself a truly hydrating exfoliant.
1. Combine 1/2 cup Vanicream and five tablespoons of coconut oil in a small bowl or jar.
2. Mix in 1/2 cup granulated brown sugar and three tablespoons of ground oatmeal until the scrub has a paste-like consistency.
3. Gently smooth the mixture across your arms and legs, avoiding the face. “If you’re looking to really moisturize, I suggest doing this on damp skin,” says Dr. Shamban.
4. Rinse, pat skin dry, and follow with your favorite moisturizer for the ultimate, at-home spa experience.
“The exfoliating aspect of this scrub comes from almonds, which are rich in both vitamin E and antioxidants,” says Dr. Shamban. “Plus, unlike some harsh scrubs, which irritate the skin and cause an overproduction of oil, this one uses olive oil and avocado to prevent that dryness, making it especially great for people with oily backs or shoulders,” she says.
1. Using a coffee-bean grinder, grind 1/3 cup almonds into a rough powder. Alternatively, finely chop the almonds by hand.
2. Combine 1/2 cup olive oil with half an avocado (which will blast skin with vitamins B, C, E, and K) in a food processor until smooth.
3. Mix the almonds and the avocado mash in a bowl or jar, then add in two tablespoons of witch hazel (an astringent that’s loaded with antioxidants).
4. Smooth product over your skin, paying extra attention to oil-prone areas, and, as always, avoiding the face.
5. Rinse and dry skin, then slather on a moisturizer.
This DIY is a double whammy, thanks to its hero ingredient Epsom salt, which acts not only as a gentle exfoliant, but also as a tried-and-true muscle relaxant. “Epsom salts are high in magnesium sulfate, which directly relaxes muscle aches and pains,” says Dr. Shamban. The recipe also calls for green tea—one of the best antioxidants on the market, she adds—and lavender oil to create an incredibly relaxing and soothing body formula.
1. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, five drops of pure essential lavender oil, three teaspoons of Epsom salt, and one teaspoon (roughly two tea bags’ worth) of green tea in a bowl or jar.
2. Mix the ingredients until you’ve created a paste-like consistency, and don’t be afraid to add extra Epsom salt or olive oil, says Dr. Shamban. “Think of these DIYs as you would cookie batter—if the consistency is too runny, add more solid, and if it’s not runny enough, add more oil,” she suggests.
3. Avoiding the face, massage across your damp skin.
4. Rinse, dry, and wind the heck down.