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A Scrub That Will Wake You Up
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A Scrub That Will Wake You Up

chocolate scrub

This easy-to-do DIY scrub will literally wake you up! It will also tighten, tone and brighten your skin, exfoliate it, improve circulation and help relieve acne.

Why make a scrub yourself? Because this way you will know exactly what it is made of. Also you are not going to put anything in it that you don’t want your skin to absorb. Modern technology makes it possible to give the look, smell and taste of any product to any other product you choose. So it is always better to know for certain what you are rubbing into your skin.

coffee scrub and coffee beans

Ground coffee serves as a good option for the scrub base. The good news is that you can tailor the scrub to your needs and preferences by choosing the right components and adjusting the grind size. A coffee scrub recipe is similar to a salad recipe. You can fine-tune it the way you like by adding certain ingredients and by varying their quantities.

If you are new to the coffee scrub, begin with small quantities to figure out which recipe works best for you. If you want to experience skin clearing on a deeper level, consider doing a colon cleanse 

coffee beans and ground coffee for coffee scrub
Ground coffee beans

A typical scrub consists of three main ingredients: a hard base, a moisturizing lubricant and supplemental components.

The Scrub Base

Choose your favorite coffee for a scrub base. The reason for picking the coffee with your favorite flavor is it will most likely work best for you. You can adjust the grind size based on how you want your scrub to be: gentle, medium or hard. If you want to use it on the face, or any other delicate areas of the skin, then lean toward a finer grind. If you plan to apply it to less sensitive areas of the skin, then a medium grind size will do fine. Professionally ground Turkish coffee is an ideal choice for a face scrub.

The reason for picking factory-ground coffee is because the grind size will be uniform without any sharp particles. These are hard to avoid using home grinders.  Fine to medium-ground coffee made with a burr grinder is a good choice for a scrub, when applying on the less sensitive skin areas. 

The next base ingredient of choice is raw cane sugar. It is a natural source of glycolic acid which is an alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA. Naturally occurring in food, glycolic acid has many uses in skin care. Sugar is an excellent exfoliating agent. AHA literally loosens up and clears away old and dead skin cells, allowing the new skin layer to come to the surface. Glycolic acid easily penetrates the skin to make it fresh and rejuvenated. Besides its exfoliating properties, glycolic acid stimulates production of collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are the primary components of connective tissue. Elastin is responsible for the skin’s elasticity and collagen is responsible for the skin’s strength and hydration. Glycolic acid also removes extra oil from the skin and helps with dry skin conditions. Sugar is also a natural humectant; meaning once it penetrates the skin, it draws moisture moisture from the environment into it. Raw sugar, overall, has a great potential to rejuvenate and renew your skin. If exposing yourself to direct sunlight, it is always recommended to apply sunscreen after the skin sugar scrub treatment. This is to protect the new skin layers from UV damage.

 Raw sugar itself is recommended for less sensitive skin areas due to the sharpness of the sugar crystals. For the face and other sensitive areas use raw cane powdered sugar. Buy it ready-to-use or make it yourself. To make your own powdered sugar for the scrub: you will need 1 cup raw cane sugar and 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder. Blend it together in a blender or blade coffee grinder until the mixture is a “fluffy” powder.

Another good base ingredient is raw organic cacao powder. Cacao powder is different from cocoa powder. Cacao is derived from cacao beans that do not undergo high temperature treatment. This is why it preserves all the benefits this plant has to offer. Cocoa powder is derived from roasted beans, the roasting renders most of its health properties useless. So does processing with alkali (Dutch-processing) that deteriorates the product even further.

Cacao is a gentle skin exfoliator. It is packed with antioxidants, like theobromine; they protect the skin from oxidative damage. Cacao helps restore the skin’s natural oil layer, acting as a natural moisturizer. It is rich in polyphenolic compounds with a lot of flavonols. Flavonols (or flavanols) improve the skin’s blood flow and its healing ability. Also they help protect the skin from sunlight. Flavonols is what makes cacao bitter, so when it comes to skin care: the more bitter, the better.

Cacao powder has more phenolic phytochemicals and is higher in antioxidants than teas and red wine. Cacao is rich in elements and minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron and copper. Cacao also benefits vascular health. Consumption of cacao flavonols helps relieve wrinkles and skin elasticity issues related to photo-aging. Photo-aging is damage to the skin resulting from excessive exposure to sunlight, UV-radiation in particular. Cacao (and cocoa) powder itself contain a significant amount of fats. A cacao-based scrub does not necessarily need added oils or butters. A combination of equal amounts of powdered sugar and cacao powder mixed with some water can be enough to make a scrub.

The next scrub ingredient is:

The Lubricating Moisturizer

 You will need more or less of it, depending on how you want your scrub to be: creamy or gritty. It is important to remember that though oils and butters are moisturizers, they don’t really hydrate the skin because they don’t contain any water. 

Hydrating by definition stands for nourishing with water. Moisturizing means protecting the skin hydration with oils that seal water in the skin.

So, once again, you can’t hydrate your skin with oils. If you apply oils or butters on dehydrated dry skin, it will look better, but it will still remain mostly dehydrated. The exception is using regular dairy butter, which contains a lot of water. So if your skin is dehydrated and not bouncy, the goal should be to hydrate it first and then moisturize it. To achieve this, apply a water-based lotion or body wash before the scrub, not after. Then the oils from the scrub will form a barrier that will seal the moisture in the skin. One more time, if the skin asks for the hydration then do it first, use an oil-based scrub after!

Skin dehydration is not just a cosmetic issue, but rather a systemic one and must be addressed. Most common causes of dehydrated skin are lack of sleep and lack of water intake. Read here about the importance of having water before and with your coffee.

If the skin is sort of dry-ish on the surface, but still well-hydrated, lively and bouncy; then a moisturizing oil-based scrub might be all you need.

Aveeno is a great hydrating and moisturizing body wash!

Lubricating Moisturizers: oils and butters you can use to create your scrub

  • Coconut oil. There is a reason coconut oil is used in professional boxing. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, also it efficiently reduces skin redness. Always opt for raw organic cold-pressed virgin grades to avoid getting any unwanted ingredients into your skin. Coconut oil contains fatty acids like linoleic acid (beneficial for acne-prone skin) and up to 50% lauric acid (moisturizing, antimicrobial and antiviral). It is not recommended to use coconut oil if you have oily skin, it can clog pores and make acne worse. For other skin types, coconut oil has a great potential to relieve acne and reduce acne-related scarring.
  • Avocado oil. This oil has nourishing and anti-inflammatory properties thanks to vitamins D and E, beta carotene, potassium, lecithin and essential fatty acids. Thanks to antioxidants and vitamins, it can fight eczema and psoriasis-related skin conditions. It also has a good anti-acne potential and does not leave any oily residue after being washed off.
  • Almond oil. Cold-pressed almond oil is rich in vitamin D, vitamin E and several minerals that help with irritation. Also it is moisturizing and emolliating. Emollients are compounds that smooth the skin out and make it soft. Almond oil can rejuvenate the skin and support its barrier function.
  • Grapeseed oil. This oil also has anti-acne properties thanks to linoleic acid and vitamin E. It contains antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals. Also it is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. It can be efficient in fighting acne outbreaks. It can also help protect against damage from UV-radiation and improve skin elasticity.
  • Jojoba oil. While technically not an oil but a wax ester, we can call it oil to keep things simple. Jojoba oil has antimicrobial and moisturizing properties. It is not likely to block skin pores and cause acne outbreak. This is because jojoba oil is very close in composition to the skin’s natural oil. Jojoba oil is hypoallergenic, it is well tolerated by the vast majority of people. It has vitamin E, also anti-inflammatory and wound-healing capabilities.
  • Apricot oil. This oil is derived from apricot kernels. Similarly to jojoba oil, its composition is close to natural skin sebum. Apricot kernel oil is a great skin moisturizer, it smoothes out wrinkles and lines on the skin. It has vitamins A and E, oleic, linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids. These acids possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-aging and moisturizing properties.
  • Shea butter is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins. Just like the oils, it has  moisturizing properties. It is also anti-inflammatory and can heal cracked and peeling skin. Shea butter also stimulates collagen production, which has anti-aging properties.
  • Ghee, or clarified butter. This butter is well-known in the Ayurveda tradition. It moisturizes and nourishes the skin due to the presence of essential fatty acids. It also has skin-brightening properties; it can help with dark circles around the eyes. This can be achieved by applying it before bed, under the eyes and on the eyelids.
  • Cacao butter. It has moisturizing properties, effectively sealing moisture in the skin.  Raw organic cacao butter is the most nutritious for the skin, because it never goes through high temperature processing. Cacao butter has lots of phytochemicals. They have the potential to rejuvenate the skin, increase blood flow to it and protect it from photo-aging. Cacao butter is rich in fatty acids, which work together with phytochemicals to promote healthy skin. 

Consider these other ingredients of your choice: yogurt or aloe vera gel, or even a regular butter. However, because of high water contents, such coffee scrubs will have a short shelf-life.


Synergy means the cooperative action of two or more components, in which the result of the action is greater than the sum of the results of the individual components. In other words, synergy is all about teamwork

Supplemental Components

Once you decide on the base and the lubricating moisturizer, it is time to crank up the synergy a bit more with some other powerful ingredients.

Manuka Honey has a high concentration of methylglyoxal, a component derived from the nectar of manuka flowers. The manuka tree comes from the same family as the regular tea tree. However its products possess much superior antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. Manuka honey has long been used for healing wounds by the indigenous population of New Zealand.

This kind of honey is beneficial in prevention and treatment of acne. Manuka honey is expensive, but you will not need too much of it for a scrub. Pick a grade with a UMF value of over 20 units. Otherwise it may not be that effective. Manuka honey is also a natural moisturizer thanks to its sugar, which go into the skin and keeps it moisturized.

manuka honey and matcha for coffee scrub
Manuka honey, matcha and ground coffee

Turmeric is a well-known spice for its healing properties. It is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant thanks to a compound called curcumin. Also it has wound-healing properties.

Turmeric can potentially help with psoriasis, eczema and other unwanted skin conditions. Turmeric is not for everyone, it may cause an allergic reaction, so start with a small amount for your scrub.

honey turmeric coffee scrub
Coffee honey turmeric scrub preparation

Matcha is a Japanese green tea powder packed with a lot of health benefits. If you have a matcha drink once per day, your skin will also benefit a lot. Read more on matcha here. It is full of antioxidants, vitamins (B2 and E), minerals and amino acids. Matcha powder is a gentle exfoliant, it will quickly tone and freshen-up your skin. By making matcha one of your scrub ingredients, you will supply all it has to offer directly to your skin. Coupled with consuming a matcha drink or even ice cream, it will make a lot of difference. You can use a cheaper culinary matcha grade for the scrub.

Lemon Juice. First things first: avoid putting pure lemon juice on your face. Avoid exposing the skin to direct sunlight or apply sunscreen after using lemon juice as a scrub ingredient. Lemon juice can be beneficial for the skin for a variety of reasons. It is a natural skin brightener due to the presence of vitamin C. Lemon juice has to be freshly squeezed in order for vitamin C to be “alive”. Lemon juice is also a natural exfoliant. Its citric acid helps to break down dead skin and relieve non-inflammatory acne. Lemon juice is highly acidic and can potentially cause skin damage. To stay on the safe side, don’t put it on your skin at all. Consider grapefruit juice as a safer alternative. If you still want to benefit from lemons, include them in your diet. Mix freshly squeezed juice from one lemon and a teaspoon of Manuka honey with a glass of water. This makes a great immune and metabolism boosting, antioxidant and antibacterial drink.

lemon juice and lemons cut in half

Grapefruit Juice. It offers all the same benefits of lemon juice. At the same time, it is less acidic and more gentle on your skin. If you have sensitive skin, even grapefruit juice can cause irritation, so use it with caution. Grapefruit juice has a lot of vitamin C which is great news if you aim to brighten your skin. Besides that, vitamin C is an antioxidant and also can stimulate collagen production. Collagen supplementation has become one of the most popular beauty trends nowadays. Grapefruit juice has malic, citric and tartaric acids in it; they are natural chemical exfoliants and efficiently remove “dead” skin. Grapefruit juice has to be freshly squeezed in order for vitamin C to be active.

grapefruit and grepefruit juice in a glass

Essential oils

Essential oils are oils derived from plants and have volatile compounds in them. These compounds give the respective plants their characteristic odors. They are usually derived using steam or pressure. Essential oils are widely used in medicine and aromatherapy. These oils can be a very powerful ingredient and it is important to select the correct ones for skin application. Begin using essential oils with care. Always dilute essential oils in “carrier” oils, like one of the lubricating moisturizers above. One drop is enough for the first application. Increase the dosage only if you are sure that this particular oil works well for you. Read carefully the booklet that comes with the oil. Make sure to use therapeutic grade oils. Remember that oils are prone to oxidation. It is always better to buy the smallest amount (so it is used before it oxidizes) and keep bottles tightly closed, away from heat and direct light. Please consult a dermatologist before using any of the essential oils on the skin. Also, test a small amount of the essential oil (diluted in “carrier” oil) by applying to a small patch of skin and observing for 24 hours.

essential oil

Some of the essential oil properties:

General Scrub Rules

If your goal is to hydrate your skin and to exfoliate deeper, take a warm shower using a moisturizing body wash before applying a scrub. This will help to hydrate the skin and clear the top skin layers for a deeper exfoliation. If you have oily skin, you may want to use body wash before and after (or only after) using the scrub. This will help to wash off the extra oil. Before applying a homemade scrub to the face, test it on your hands. This will help to avoid irritation in more sensitive skin areas. Avoid rubbing the scrub to the areas around the eyes.

face scrub application lines 2
Suggested directions for facial scrubbing motions
face scrub application lines
Alternative suggested directions for scrubbing motions

It is best to prepare a fresh scrub every time. This way you can add any ingredients you feel like using. Apply the scrub no more than once a week on your face and once every 3-4 days on the rest of the body. Do not exceed three minutes of scrub application.

chocolate coffee scrub

It is most convenient to apply the scrub in the shower, so it is easier to wash it off. Use minimum to no soap or body wash after the scrub. As mentioned above, those with naturally oily skin may want to wash off the extra oil with soap or body wash. 

 Try a contrast shower (alternating very hot and ice cold temperature) after the scrub, it has a lot of health benefits.  After washing off the scrub, it is a good idea to flush the shower drain with hot water. Just leave the hot water open for one minute, this will prevent drain lines from clogging with the oily scrub components. 

Before applying ingredients you have never used before, it is recommended to test them on a small area of the skin.

coffee scrub
Coffee scrub

Suggested Scrub Recipes

For face and gentle body scrub, grind coffee beans finely. You can also use packaged fine ground coffee. For an average body scrub, use a medium to fine grind. For a heavier scrub, use coarse ground beans. As a rule of thumb, mix approx. 4 parts of the scrub base with 2 parts of moisturizing lubricant and 1 part of the additional ingredients. Honey is an exception, you can use 2-4 parts of it in the scrub. This is just a general guidance, vary the ingredients according to your needs and their qualities. Here are some recipe examples:

Coffee Sugar and Ghee Scrub

You will need:

coffee scrub herbal ball and coffee beans

Coffee Manuka Honey and Shea Butter Scrub

You will need:

Coffee Sugar and Coconut Oil Scrub

This recipe is not recommended for oily skin due to the coconut oil

You will need:

coffee scrub and a candle

Chocolate scrub

You will need:

Once again, for a deeper skin treatment, consider a colon cleanse!

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