D.I.Y. Skincare – Coconut Honey Sugar Scrub

imageI love D.I.Y skincare.  I started experimenting with different ingredients at a young age in an effort to find something I could use to relieve dry, itchy skin.  Most importantly, I had to find something that wouldn’t cause my skin to react horribly.  I, like many others, have dry, sensitive, delicate skin.  As a baby, I was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis.  My mother had to be cautious when it came to the soap, body washes, lotions, and even the laundry detergent she would use.  Nearly everything caused my skin to react.  I remember having painful, itchy, bright red rashes all over my body, even on my face.  My parents had to find things that I could safely use, and my mother narrowed down the products that didn’t cause a reaction to Dove (soap and body lotion) and Tide (laundry detergent).  It wasn’t until I was twelve or so that I started to try other brands of soap and body lotions.  Some would be fine, most would cause problems, thus leading me to do my own research and take control of the situation.  I’ve purchased thousands of dollars worth of skincare products over the years.  I’ve gone to numerous dermatologists who have prescribed ointments, gels, lotions, creams, and even peels that I hoped would help.  I’ve paid upwards of $340 for a bottle of some lotion that contained acid.  Most didn’t offer any relief at all, some made things worse, and the ones that gave me hope would stop working after a couple of weeks, or I was told to stop using them due to the risk of them causing permanent damage.  Once I learned how diet can affect dermatitis, and how easy it is to prepare my own homemade skincare treatments, I haven’t looked back.

One of my favorite treatments to make is the Coconut Honey Sugar Scrub.  I use it 2-4 times weekly, depending on how my skin feels.  As you would with any new-to-you product, please do a small patch test before using any treatment on a large area of your body.  Honey can cause an allergic reaction for those who are allergic to bees.  It has caused my skin to itch and become red on rare occasion.  When this happens, I rinse my skin with cool water, pat dry, and apply a thin layer of pure aloe or coconut oil, and my skin will calm down within a half hour.  If you discover you are allergic to, or simply don’t care for, any one of the ingredients listed, try substituting with another that you like; just do your research.  What works for me may not work for you, but I sincerely hope it does.

I don’t measure any of the ingredients I use for any of my treatments. You can use as much or as little of something as you like, depending on the consistency you prefer.

Let’s go over what the ingredients used in this scrub can do for your skin.

Honey:  Honey is chemical-free and provides many benefits as a skin care product.  It works in a few different ways to help your skin be the best it can be.  The chemical makeup of honey gives it properties that help speed the healing process and prevent infection, making it great for anyone with acne.  Sugars in the honey interact with water in such a way that microorganisms cannot develop.  When the sweetener comes in contact with fluids that weep from wounds, hydrogen peroxide is produced.  Hydrogen peroxide can provide antibacterial benefits to affected areas, which is what speeds healing.  The smooth, thick texture also keeps moisture close to the skin, helping your complexion become supple.  Honey is a natural antioxidant and protects the skin from sun damage such as premature wrinkling, a condition that in some people can lead to skin cancer.  Raw honey is best, but the typical honey you see in the grocery store that’s contained in the plastic bottle shaped like a bear will work, too.

Sugar:  A lot of people wonder whether to use sugar or salt when it comes to making scrubs.  I prefer sugar for a few reasons.  Sugar is less abrasive due to the granules being smaller and rounder than salt granules are.  Salt is great for buffing away thick, rough patches of skin; think feet, knuckles, elbows, and knees.  It has antiseptic properties that can kill bacteria and help to reduce inflammation.  It will also help to draw toxins out of your body.  BUT!… you never want to use salt on your face.  It’s simply too abrasive and can cause more harm than good, especially if your skin is sensitive.  You also want to pass on the salt if you’re planning to use the scrub on freshly shaven skin or any part of your body that has an abrasion… helllllooooooooo sting!!!  Ouch!  I’ve tried using salt in the past, but it seemed to dry my already parched skin out even more, and left me feeling itchy.  Sugar is a much better option for anyone with sensitive, delicate skin.  Another great thing about sugar is how sticky it becomes when mixed with oils, which means it’s going to stick to your skin after you’re done applying it, therefore helping the oils stay on your skin longer.  So if you have to skip on the honey, definitely stick to sugar.  Hah!… -stick- to sugar; get it?!  Anyway, moving on… Salt = not sticky; it can fall off and lead to wasting your scrub.  When it comes to what type of sugar to use, your typical white sugar will work in a pinch.  I prefer to use brown sugar, it smells SO good!  Unrefined cane sugar is a great option, but you’ll want to avoid using it on your face because the unrefined version is a bit more rough and abrasive.  It contains iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium, which are all great for replenishing your skin.  Lastly, you can use sugar more often than salt.  A scrub made with salt should be used no more than once per week, while a sugar scrub can used as many as three or four times, depending on your skin’s needs.

Coconut Oil:  I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen the magazine articles, talk shows, and even ads on our Facebook feeds that talk about how incredible coconut oil is and why you should be using it for everything from helping your nails grow to oil pulling.  Coconut oil IS incredible, and it’s not a fad. I use coconut oil in place of olive oil when I cook.  I use it for oil pulling; place a teaspoon or more of oil in your mouth and ‘pull’ it back and forth between your teeth, like you would a mouth wash.  My teeth have become whiter since starting this, my tonsils don’t get infected as much as they used to, and it helps dry mouth and soothes a sore throat.  There are many other said benefits to oil pulling, but everyone has an opinion of whether it actually works.  You can be the judge.  I use coconut oil in my hair when it’s too dry to bare any longer, and I use it nightly over my facial moisturizer to help give my skin a soft glow and super smooth texture.

Wondering how coconut oil works?  There are many factors, and proteins is one of them.  Proteins in the oil help to rejuvenate your skin, they contribute to cellular health and tissue repair.  People who have a diet lacking in protein tend to heal more slowly, resulting in scarring due to the extended healing time.  This is due to the damaged cells not having a healthy flow of proteins, which would replace them at a normal rate.  Next come saturated fats.  These are medium chain fatty acids or triglycerides, and when they’re applied to your skin, they keep it smooth to the touch and help your skin retain moisture.  Want to take it a step further?  Use coconut oil in the kitchen as much as possible.  When we ingest these fatty acids on a regular basis, they actually deposit under the skin!  That means a beautiful glow, softer skin, and more even tone.

Coconut oil has strong antimicrobial properties, thanks to Capric, Caprylic, and Lauric acid.  This trio will protect you from infections that can enter the body through open wounds, and when taken internally, boost your immunity when converted to monocaprins and monolaurins.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that serves as an antioxidant, protecting the body from damage due to free radicals, and it’s in coconut oil.  Free radicals harm the body on a cellular level, and can lead to a number of signs of aging.  This is particularly true of the skin, where free radicals can cause wrinkles, lines and age spots.  When applied topically, it interacts directly with the skin cells, neutralizing free radicals in the skin and preventing many signs of aging, as well as skin cancer risks.

It’s important to use organic, unprocessed coconut oil if you want to see and feel the best results.  This is especially true if you’re using the oil in the kitchen or for oil pulling.  Any time you think you may ingest it, buy organic, if at all possible.

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Preparing and Using Your Scrub

1.) Pour sugar into a cup; I use more sugar than usual if I’m experiencing extra dry, flaky skin.

2.) In a separate bowl or cup, combine room temperature coconut oil and honey, and mix well.  If the coconut oil is solidified, place a scoop into the container with the honey and mix with your hand, the warmth will melt the oil.  Yes, it will be sticky, but you’re going to be getting this stuff all over yourself in a few minutes anyway, so it’s no biggie.  I don’t recommend heating the oil any other way.

3.) Bring the ingredients into the bathroom with you, but do not get them near the water just yet.  Get naked, get in your shower, and cleanse your body, wash your hair, shave, etc.  Applying the scrub needs to be the last thing you do.  When you’re ready, pour the sugar into the mixture of honey and coconut oil, and mix well.  Apply the scrub while your skin is still wet, and rub in slow, circular motions.  I use this treatment all over my body and face, even on my lips.

4.) You can rinse immediately if you like, you’ll feel and see a difference, but to get the best results, I prefer to have a seat in the tub, and allow the scrub to stay on my skin for 10-20 minutes.  Make sure there’s no standing water in your tub when you sit!  Take care not to fall when you stand up; the coconut oil is going to make things a bit slippery.  When you’re ready, rinse well with cool water, and pat your skin dry with a towel or allow it to air-dry.  The coconut oil will leave behind a thin layer on your skin, and it’ll stay put for a good 8 hours, leaving your skin with a beautiful, natural glow.
5.) There’s no need to apply a moisturizer after using this scrub, unless you have particularly dry skin.  In that case, a thin layer of coconut oil will do the trick, but be careful to not overdo it!  Too much of this stuff and you’ll have a greasy mess left behind on your clothes, furniture, car… you get the picture.

The best thing about making your own scrubs, masks, and other treatments is there is no waste, it’s always fresh, and you know exactly what you’ve just put on your skin.  Coconut oil doesn’t become rancid, so it’s a good idea to stock up on it whenever you see a sale.  I use it every single day for one thing or another, and I’m sure you will too as you become more familiar with the benefits of using it.

I plan to add more D.I.Y. Skincare posts to the blog in the near future; stay tuned!  😊

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