Emulsified Scrub Q and A

Since this post went live, I've had loads of great questions from you about emulsified scrubs.

As a matter of fact, you've asked me so many questions (via Instagram, this blog, email, etc), I decided to put together a little Q and A to answer them all.

So let's talk emulsified scrubs!

Will my Skin Feel Greasy after using an Emulsified Scrub? How Can I Change the Formula if I don't Like the Feel?

Skin feel is a matter of personal perception, so this is a little tricky to answer.

I've done scrubs for gents as well as ladies, and there is a definite difference in skin feel preferences. Women will generally find a 'fattier' product provides an ideal skin feel while men will be inclined to seek something that 'works, but can't be felt'. (Read: "don't even THINK about putting anything in there that makes my skin look shiny or oily")

You can adjust the feel of your scrub by trying a few different combinations.

Consider the butters. Shea is indisputably greasy feeling and could for example be replaced with a 'drier' feeling butter such as mango.

Choose oils for their skin feel: some are quickly absorbed (such as hempseed) but might not be ideal to use as the sole oil in a scrub. Try a mix of fast-absorbing and slow-absorbing oils to moderate the feel.

The same can be considered with emulsifiers.  I find some emulsifiers will give a more 'slippery' feel than others.

To create the perfect skin feel for you, make several small batches and tweak the proportions and combinations. Keep notes so you can recreate your masterpiece when you have achieved your ideal skin feel.

I want to Use Salt as the Exfoliant – Which is Best?

As long as you use a fine grain salt, you can use any single or combination of salts you like. A mix of Epsom salts and fine Himalayan pink salt is a lovely combo, and even though the Epsom salts are often a bit larger in grain size than normal fine salt, the grains are round.

Do not use coarse salt. It can scratch the skin and you may find yourself bleeding instead of feeling refreshed (can you tell I speak from experience?)

It is especially Himalayan Pink Salt with its content of different minerals (and solubility) that can cause scratching.

Here's an easy rule: Any salt is fine, as long as it is fine!
(play on words totally intended)

Is it OK to Use Coffee Grounds as the Exfoliant?

Yes, as long as they are finely ground.

A few (wanting to be sustainable and reduce waste) have also asked whether used coffee grounds could function as well. While it's a great idea to want to create sustainable products, used coffee grounds will have to be 100% dry (with no trace of moisture!) before they can be added.

Consider the amount of energy (and perhaps effort on your part) it will take to achieve bone dry grounds (how many hours in a oven?).

Can I Mix Different Exfoliants? Which Ones Are Good?

Mix to your hearts desire and create your own fabulous blends! You might prefer something that dissolves and rinses away completely, or want to make use of some herbs or granulated seeds.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

Exfoliants that will dissolve
  • Brown sugar
  • Castor sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Fine salt
  • Epsom salt
  • Dead Sea salt
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Jojoba Beads

Exfoliants that will not dissolve
  • Finely ground coffee
  • Loofah Flakes
  • Walnut shell grains
  • Ground Adzuki beans
  • Dried Herbs of choice (non-scratchy ones!)

Can I Leave the Preservative Out?

You can pretty much do anything you want. However – be aware that even though there is no water in this product, it is almost impossible to use without it coming it into contact with water.

If you really want to leave out the preservative (and ensure the product won't start growing a bacteria salad), consider packaging your scrub in some type of single use container (especially if you are planning on selling it!).

If your scrub is 'only' for personal use, store the container away from water and moisture. To use, scoop out a single use portion with a suitable-sized scoop and carry the portion to your shower for use.

My Preservative is Recommended at an amount of 0.8%, but your formula says 1%. What do I do?

Depending on the type of preservative you are using, there will be differences in how much is required. Some preservatives are recommended at 0.5%, some higher.

Add the amount of preservative recommended by the manufacturer.

Can't I stir in the exfoliants by hand? Do I have to whip them in?

You could add and stir the exfoliants by hand, but it sounds like a bit of extra work and you might have to stir a while to get even distribution.

That said, I admit I haven't tried this myself (as the hand mixer is already there and so easy to grab), but am now curious to try this method with my next batch.

If you hand stir your exfoliants in, I'd love to hear about it in a comment below.

What's the Best Way to Transfer to the Jar? It's so Messy Trying to Fill a Jar using a Spoon or Spatula!

I agree about the messy bit. I gave up trying to transfer to a jar using a spoon or spatula ages ago.

Here's my preferred method of transfer.  Even if you've made only enough for a single pot of cream or scrub, this method saves time and gives a perfect result every time – even though there's an extra step involved.

Open a small plastic bag (suitable for food use) or piping bag and fold back the sides until it is easy to transfer the scrub directly into a corner. Fold up the sides of the bag and work the product down to the corner. Twist to keep the bag shut and product collected.

Snip off the tip (cut less off than you think you need). Pipe the product into your container. Finish by tapping the container on the table lightly to knock out any air bubbles.

I hope this has been helpful and inspired you to make even more fabulous emulisfied scrubs!

Do Tell

Which are your favorite emulsified scrub ingredients for the perfect skin feel? Do you have any tips you'd like to share? Feel free to add a comment below.

The Formula

Find my basic formula for making your own emulsified scrub here


Unknown said…
Great rundown for those seeking to widen their horizons, and filled with helpful hints. I use stand mixers as I produce large batches and so I can move on to other products, not to mention cocoa butter takes time, and this constant whipping makes it as smooth and light as can be.

I make a coffee scrub with espresso from Italy and jojoba beads - and that caffeine is oh so powerful against cellulite.

Another one of my best selling scrubs is a mixture of almond/olive seeds with jojoba beads, both pleasing to the eye and skin.

And my favorite is a sugar scrub with rose knobs and sugar - decadent! The Biokons NEO is a wonderful preservative with a lovely scent of Roses to boot!

Can you tell I love scrubs? I use them daily - let's whip it up :)