What is a Brown Sugar Scrub?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Sugar scrubs have gained popularity as natural skin smoothers that help the skin get softer and slough off dead skin cells. This process is called exfoliation and in addition to cleaning the skin it is thought to stimulate the production of new skin, and thus reduce aging. There are many types of sugars that could be used as exfoliant, but it seems the most popular of these is the brown sugar scrub.

Brown sugar.
Brown sugar.

A brown sugar scrub usually has at least three ingredients: brown sugar, some form of oil, and some type of scent of flavoring. Commercial brands may have many more ingredients, including things like glycerin, detergent or soap chemicals, and others. Directions may vary on how to use them.

Rolled oats are used in some varieties of brown sugar scrubs.
Rolled oats are used in some varieties of brown sugar scrubs.

Most often people are advised to use the scrub on the body, once a day, after a quick soaping. Rubbing the skin in circular motions enhances exfoliation. Since many of these products also contain oil, it may be necessary to soap and rinse off after using them. People are also advised to be careful when showering because the tub may get a little oily, and it could easy to slip. This advice could vary by product ingredients.

On the subject of ingredients, the simple nature of many brown sugar scrub recipes may make people wonder if it wouldn’t be much cheaper just to make a scrub at home. Actually, it usually is far less expensive and there are a host of online recipes. The simplest ones are a combination of brown sugar, olive or almond oil, and a little flavoring like vanilla for scent.

Some more complex recipes include honey and oats. The oats are a great idea. Rolled oats, finely chopped in a blender or food processor, are one of the best homemade exfoliant ingredients. When mixed with oil, they soften slightly and are easier to manipulate.

One question people might want to ask is about the shelf life of brown sugar scrub. It is, after all, food. The oil can get rancid, though sugar is a good preservative. Most people who make their own brown sugar scrub at home recommend throwing out any leftovers in about four weeks.

In addition to brown sugar scrub being a good exfoliant, many people rave about its smell. Some folks find that the sweet smell of brown sugar encourages them to remember to exfoliate. The smell is homey and sweet; a powerful inducement to maintain a skin care regiment. On the downside, even commercial products can be a little messy to use, and some people prefer exfoliating scrubs of other kinds.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@cmsmith10- There are several different brown sugar body scrub recipes out there. The one that I use is very easy to make and feels great. I take a cup of brown sugar, ½ cup coconut oil, about 10 drops of any essential oil (I like to use lavender or rosemary), and a Vitamin E or A gel cap.

Mix the coconut oil, brown sugar, and essential oil together in a small bowl. Make sure the ingredients are combined well. You can store it in a container that has a lid. When you are ready to use some, break open a gel cap and add it to the mixture. You will want to stir it well because the oil will rise to the top. Then, apply to face.


I want to try to make my own brown sugar body scrub but I'm not sure what ingredients to use or how much. Does anyone have any tips?

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