How to Make Coconut Scrub With Just 2 Ingredients

hand reaches for glass jar of homemade coconut scrub with whole coconut nearby

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Overview
  • Total Time: 15 - 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1.5 cups
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Coconut scrubs use the power of fatty coconut and a natural exfoliant such as sugar or salt to remove dead skin cells from the epidermis and leave new skin supple and smooth. Coconut is a common natural beauty ingredient because it locks in moisture, provides a protective barrier against free radicals, soothes irritation, calms redness, and nourishes skin with antioxidants.

Best of all, you can whip up a coconut-based exfoliant at home using two of the most basic kitchen ingredients. For the added decadence of a delicious scent, you may also opt to throw in some aromatherapeutic essential oils or vanilla extract and spices. This DIY coconut scrub is impossibly simple, adaptable, inexpensive, gentle on skin, and far eco-friendlier than store-bought versions, considering the waste created and toxic ingredients used in mainstream beauty products. 

White Sugar, Brown Sugar, or Salt?

three wooden bowls filled with white sugar, brown sugar, and salt for exfoliation

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Which exfoliant to use in your homemade coconut scrub depends on your desired level of abrasion. Salt granules—preferably of the sea or Epsom variety—are the roughest of the three but are packed with minerals that support hydration and absorb toxins. White sugar granules are rounder than salt granules and therefore less abrasive, and brown sugar, being the finest of the three, is the gentlest. Brown sugar also dissolves quicker than white sugar because the crystals are less perfect.

Brown sugar is best for sensitive skin types whereas salt can be used on tougher patches of skin, such as cracked heels. If using the latter, aim for a 1:2 salt-to-coconut oil ratio; so, half a cup of salt granules to one cup of coconut oil.

What You'll Need

Tools/Supplies

  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment (preferred) or a medium bowl and fork
  • Airtight container, for storage

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup organic virgin coconut oil, solid but soft
  • 1 cup white or brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Prepare Your Ingredients

    two hands hold coffee cups filled with solid coconut oil and brown sugar to create scrub

    Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

    Measure out half a cup of coconut oil and a cup of sugar, or a cup of coconut oil and half a cup of salt, depending on which exfoliant you choose. The coconut oil should be in its solid form—i.e., not melted—but soft enough to mash with a fork.

  2. Combine Ingredients 

    hands mix coconut oil and brown sugar with fork to create diy scrub gif

    Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

    You can combine the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and simply mash them together with a potato masher or fork, but for an even more indulgent whipped consistency, use a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip your coconut scrub at medium speed for about 10 minutes. The consistency should be thick, moldable, and moist but not wet. 

  3. Transfer to an Airtight Container

    person in white shirt holds out glass jar filled with diy homemade brown sugar coconut scrub

    Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

    Once your coconut scrub is thoroughly blended, transfer it to an airtight container to keep it fresh. You should store it at a temperature lower than coconut oil's melting point (74 degrees) to maintain the consistency. If it does melt (and if kept in the shower, it certainly will), allow it to cool in a lower temperature and remix it with your finger before the next use. Some separation may occur between the oil and sugar or salt.

    Coconut oil is shelf-stable for up to two years, but it's best to use your scrub while it's fresh—within a few weeks.

  4. Apply Your Coconut Scrub

    hand applies homemade diy brown sugar coconut scrub to outstretched arm

    Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

    You should always apply a body scrub to wet or damp skin. Warm water—not hot, which can exacerbate dryness—helps to open pores, soften the skin, and ready it for exfoliation. Apply a generous dollop to your elbow, foot, hand, back, or any area that could benefit from a gentle scrub and massage in circular motions, rinsing off when finished. For extra exfoliation, apply with a body brush or mitt. After you've rinsed and dried your skin, apply a moisturizer to keep new skin smooth and hydrated.

    Body scrubs should be used regularly but not too frequently, as exfoliation can be rough on skin. Try applying your coconut scrub once per week, then work up to two or three times per week if desired.

Variations

hand adds drop of essential oil to diy homemade coconut sugar scrub in glass jar

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

The combination of coconut and sugar smells sweet on its own, but if you fancy additional fragrance, try mixing in about 10 drops of essential oil. Popular scents include lavender, known for its calming effect, and peppermint, touted for comforting muscle pain and skin irritation. Citrusy essential oils like lemon and orange disinfect while leaving skin smelling fresh.

Following the common-kitchen-ingredient theme, you could also dress up your coconut scrub with pure vanilla extract and spices (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc.) for an autumnal iteration.

View Article Sources
  1. "In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin properties of Virgin coconut oil." Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2019.

  2. "Peppermint Oil." National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

  3. "Essential oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for prime time?" The Mental Health Clinician. 2018.

  4. "Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017.