white and brown sugar - exfolients

Sugar for Scrubs: Choosing the Best Sugar for Homemade Scrubs

Feeling overwhelmed by all the advice on the web about choosing the best sugar for scrubs?

With 22 million search results returned in 0.55 seconds, you may be wondering…

Where should I start? Why should I use sugar on my skin? And what are the different types of sugars that I should know?

I’ve been there.

The Google search engine alone is over 100,000,000 Gigabits in size.

That’s an expansive collection of hundreds of billions of web pages, including some about cosmetic formulations, sugar scrub recipes, beauty hacks, skincare tips and tricks, and more.

No wonder new skincare formulators feel flustered.

So, this is a basic article about the common types of sugar for sugar scrubs—for anyone just getting started, who’s feeling paralyzed by information overload, or simply looking for a quick refresher.

To make it easy, I’ve included a quick reference sheet below to help you stay organized. And so you’ll always know which sugar is the best sugar for your scrub.

Sound good?

Why is sugar good for scrubs?

Aside from being the obvious core ingredient of a sugar scrub, sugar plays a vital role in skincare.

Sugar is a mild exfoliant that cleanses, unclogs pores, and smoothes the texture and tone of your skin.

It’s also a humectant, meaning it moisturizes by drawing water from the air or from deep within your skin.

A unique characteristic of sugar is that it’s a natural source of glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps to shed dead skin cells.

When used in a scrub, sugar leaves your skin feeling refreshed and radiant.

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What kind of sugar is good for scrubs?

It’s important to know how to choose sugar for your scrubs to achieve the desired intent of the exfoliant.

Similar to choosing a carrier oil, you must consider how the sugar functions in your finished product, including its texture and color.

Where you plan to use a scrub will have a significant impact on the type of sugar that’s best. If you’re just starting out, It’s important to use the exact type of sugar called for in a formula, especially on sensitive areas like your face, so as not to irritate your skin. When in doubt, test a small area first.

Granulated Sugar is what most people keep in their pantry and for that reason, it’s most often used in homemade body scrubs. It’s plain old regular sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beets.

Shopping guide:

Brown Sugar is granulated sugar plus molasses.

Turbinado Sugar is also known as raw sugar because it’s minimally processed. It has medium-to-large crystals and is similar in appearance to brown sugar due to the molasses retained from the sugar cane.

Coconut sugar comes from coconut trees and the sap of coconut palm flowers. It may be used interchangeably for granulated sugar.

Coarse Sugar to Shred Dry Skin

If the problem you want to solve is dry, flaky skin, then you’ll want to use coarse sugar.  The large grains of coarse sugar exfoliate your dry skin while simultaneously infusing it with moisture from the air around you.

Two ideal coarse sugars for your sugar scrub are white sugar and turbinado sugar.  It is also wise to note that coarse sugar is best suited for use on your body instead of the delicate skin on your face.

Fine Sugar for Radiant Skin

Fine sugar is ideal when you want to restore your skin’s healthy glow. 

Instead of breaking away dry skin like coarse sugar, fine sugar helps to turn over the cells in your skin and infuse natural moisture. 

One of the best fine sugars for a DIY face scrub is brown sugar.

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How to Choose the Bes Sugar For Body Scrubs

The Best Sugar for Scrubs has Nothing to Do with Baking

I’m not a sugar person.

I don’t add it to my coffee or tea, and I rarely bake.

But I do love using sugar in my homemade scrubs.

Sugar is a humectant and mild exfoliant that hydrates and gently exfoliates, leaving your skin refreshed and renewed.

And you can easily create a natural sugar scrub for yourself at home with a few ingredients. Here’s a basic recipe for a body scrub:

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ cup almond oil

10 drops essential oil of your choice

In a bowl, combine the oils and the essential oil and stir completely. Add the sugar and stir until combined.

Transfer the scrub to an airtight glass jar, label and date it, and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

On a final note, when choosing the sugar for your scrub, it’s best to choose the sugar in the purest form you can find.

Organic is always recommended, especially if you’d prefer not to use animal-derived ingredients. In the United States, cane sugar may be processed with bone char—charred animal bones—making it unsuitable for many vegans.

Further, because organic sugar is grown without synthetic chemicals and completely dissolves in warm water, it keeps both your skincare and your home clean.

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