Easy Hand & Body Sugar Scrub

Dry, cracked, or otherwise flaky skin isn’t the most exciting topic of conversation, although I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who deals with it.  But guess what?  I have the easiest, non-greasy, 100% gift-worthy way to combat this nagging problem. Soft, delicious-smelling skin is just two (or three if you’re feeling adventurous!) ingredients away.

Because I do A LOT of dishes (in hot water, without gloves, no less), I keep a jar of this fragrant mixture by my sink year-round.  It’s a moisturizer and exfoliant all in one, and it couldn’t be simpler to make.

The funny thing is, when Barlean’s asked me to create a holiday gift using coconut oil, I got busy creating something altogether new.  I spent several hours making lotion, lotion bars, and even scored the secret recipe for homemade chapstick from a good friend’s daughter who truly makes the best lip balm I’ve ever used.  (She even named it — Happy Chappy.  Don’t you love that?)

As it turned out, the lotion and lotions bars felt too greasy.  Nobody wants to leave a trail of smudge marks after using hand cream, and I decided to guard the Happy Chappy trade secret just a little longer. 😉

The answer to the holiday-themed request was literally at my fingertips.  I figured if I rely on this simple scrub daily, maybe others would, too.  Plus, of all my ideas, this offers the most accessibility; it can be made with what you likely have on hand, or can access easily, and is perfect for gift giving.

Winter’s cold air and low humidity always exacerbates dry skin.  And here’s a fun fact:  Did you know that skin is the body’s largest organ?  So why not use something pure and natural as a remedy?  I use this scrub mostly for my hands, but it will put and end to dry elbows, legs, feet, etc.  Note: If you store the jar in the shower and take a long, hot shower, the prolonged heat may melt the coconut oil.  Not to worry.  Just give it a quick stir and it’ll be good to go.

For an inexpensive, effective fix for dry skin, keep this all-natural scrub beside by your sink or shower all year long.  After using, your skin will feel soft but not greasy, and a mild yet delightful aroma will linger.


Helpful tips and options:

  • Essential oils provide a lovely way to customize the scent. That said, experimenting with the extracts you already have in your spice cabinet is a great way to work with what you have.
  • I’ve created all sorts of flavors like chai spice, café latte, and pink lemonade, but my favorites are truly the simplest ones. Around the holidays, peppermint always seems fitting.  Vanilla and vanilla-almond are two of my year-round favorites.
  • I’ve also experimented with the ratio of sugar to coconut oil and provide a range of choices.  The lesser amount of sugar provides excellent moisture and light exfoliation.  The higher amount of sugar makes for a looser scrub with more abrasiveness.  When my hands are drier, I like more sugar.  You can start on the low end and then test and add more sugar if desired.  Or aim for something in the middle!
  • In order to keep things sterile, I recommend using a spoon to scoop out the scrub.
  • If this sounds good enough to eat, it is!  (To be honest, I’ve sampled on occasion, and I once stirred some into my tea.😳)
  • See the recipe notes section for a few more ideas.
Easy Hand & Body Sugar Scrub
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (2 cups with the extra exfoliation option described in the notes section)
This customizable, boutique-worthy scrub is effective, economical, and smells good enough to eat!
  • 1 cup granulated or brown sugar*
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened but not melted**
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla, almond, or peppermint extract (or another extract of choice; may substitute 10-15 drops, more or less as desired, of your favorite essential oils)


  1. In a medium-size bowl, mash together the sugar and coconut oil.
  2. Stir in the optional extract or essential oil. Adjust the amount for the desired scent.  (Note: if using extracts, take caution not to add too much more as the alcohol in some extracts may be detectable.)
  3. Spoon into a glass container with a tight-fitting lid to maintain the freshness and fragrance. The scrub will keep for a couple of months–if it lasts that long!


Notes and Tips

*I’ve used just about every sugar imaginable for this scrub, and plain old granulated sugar is my favorite, followed by light brown sugar. First, the aroma will be slightly different based on which you choose: the scent of coconut and any extracts or essential oils used carries a little better with white sugar. The caramel notes of brown sugar add a warmer element—choose based on personal preference or what you have on hand. Secondly, a coarser sugar may be used if you like a rougher feel to the scrub. I find, however, that the finer grains of granulated and basic brown sugar are perfect for exfoliating. I’ve tried sanding sugar for the extra sparkle, although the grains are even finer than that of granulated sugar, so they don’t exfoliate quite as well. Do feel free to experiment.

*For extra exfoliation, you can add up to 50% (or 1/2 cup) more sugar.  The scrub will become slightly looser as more sugar is added, but the extra abrasion is nice when skin is particularly dry or flaky.

**Coconut oil is solid below 76 degrees F and liquid above that.  At room temperature, you will likely be able to mash it easily with a fork. If your home is on the cool side and the oil seems too firm to work with, either place it in a warm spot for a few minutes or heat just long enough in the microwave to soften. You can work with melted oil, although the warmth can melt the sugar crystals, which we want for their light abrasive quality.

**If you don’t care for the scent of coconut oil or wish to highlight another scent through the addition of essential oils, use a culinary coconut oil that has no scent.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Coconut oil is an excellent natural moisturizer with a mildly tropical scent, but for those who prefer no scent, Barlean’s makes a culinary option that is flavor- and scent-free.  When either are used in a scrub, the result is super soft skin with no greasy residue.

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  1. Gail

    Ann, Can you purchase Barlean’s Coconut Oil locally? I was at Giant today and did not see it. This will make some nice Christmas gifts for several people on my list. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Gail, I’ve seen it at SaveMart but haven’t been there recently. To be sure, you might want to call before driving over, just to make sure they have it in stock. Coincidentally, I just gave a jar as a birthday gift earlier today!

  2. Cindy

    Ann – I am excited to try this recipe and make my own sugar scrub! I’ve been moisturizing daily with coconut oil for five years and my skin is soooooo soft! I save so much money on body lotion because a tub of coconut oil lasts me quite a while.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Lisa, I actually found these jars at the grocery store. You can also find Mason jars or similar jars at craft stores, Walmart, Target, and online. Here’s what I use: https://www.amazon.com/Ball-Mason-Wide-Mouth-Half/dp/B00E0MXMXG/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1512743775&sr=8-6&keywords=ball+8+oz+canning+jars and there is a slightly smaller version of this. The jars come with a two-piece canning lid, but you can buy the white, plastic lids if you prefer. (Link follows) Just make sure that you buy wide mouth lids if you’re using wide mouth jars. https://www.amazon.com/Ball-Wide-Mouth-Plastic-Storage-8-Count/dp/B000SSN3L2/ref=pd_sim_201_4?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B000SSN3L2&pd_rd_r=EXC84SG72HTV8Q94HJCP&pd_rd_w=D8zsJ&pd_rd_wg=Xvaz8&psc=1&refRID=EXC84SG72HTV8Q94HJCP

    1. Ann Post author

      I’ve tried this with scrub with avocado oil, and it works well. The texture is slightly different, and I do think coconut oil moisturizes a bit better. All that is to say that I think the liquid version will be fine to use, and since it’s room temp it won’t melt the sugar.

  3. Amy Post author

    I made this yesterday and am in love! I think I’ve washed my hands 20 times (ok…maybe only 10-12 times) to soak in the moisture. My hands feel so soft and I love the smell!

  4. Caroline

    I made this with a group of nieces and daughters at a family get together this afternoon. It’s easy yet special and everyone loved the end result. Thank you for a terrific project with lasting benefits!

  5. Libby Post author

    I made a half dozen jars to give as gifts and the feedback has been fabulous. I used peppermint extract from the grocery store and it smelled divine when mixed with the coconut oil. Thank you for a gift idea that was very well received!

  6. Helen Post author

    This is a great sugar scrub. We’re going to let our Sunday school kids make it this week at church to give to their moms!

  7. Lesley van Tunen

    Your scrub is absolutely delightful.
    I made it as described, only using coconut sugar instead of white sugar and the smell is delicious. It left my skin feeling soft, but not oily.
    Thank you for sharing!

  8. J. Smith

    I believe this info is incorrect.
    Coconut oil is solid above 76 degrees and liquid below. This is on your website and I believe this is the reverse coconut is solid below 76 degrees and liquid above

    1. Ann Post author

      That’s a great question, Chaton. I haven’t tried to make a scrub that lathers, but it would be fun to experiment. I think castille soap could work really well and wouldn’t hesitate to try. If you do try, please report back!

  9. Amy

    FYI: This is also a great activity to do at a child’s Birthday party and instead of a boring goodie bag, the guests get to bring home something useful that they made themselves 🙂

  10. Delcia Cook

    Thank you,
    I am doing hand scrub jars for a fall women’s retreat and this is the perfect recipe, easy, as I need 50 jars. I am using baby food jars, but I want to give them your recipe. They will be putting their own flavors, and I will be buying the essential oil & flavoring, cannot wait to try the cafe latte.

    Hope I can get you again to let you know how everyone like the scrub.

  11. Dayon

    I am needing to make 8 jars of this, each one approximately 8oz. Normal jars basically. What measurements do you recommend I use?

    1. Ann Post author

      If you multiply the recipe by 6, you’ll get a yield of 9 cups. That’s a little more that you need but multiplying by 5 will leave you a little under. I’d aim for 6 cups of sugar and 3 cups of oil. Hope that helps and that everyone enjoys!

  12. Lydia Marija Filipasic

    I love making a variety of sugar scrubs and give them out to school staff, church ladies, friends and family.
    I tried the Sweet Almond oil 1 tablespoon, 1 TBS Coconut oil non- scented, 1 TBS Olive oil, 1 TBS honey with 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar. Is this a good ratio.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Lydia, I think sweet almond oil would be especially lovely! As for the ratio, I like the amounts stated in the recipe, but I’ve made scrubs with equal parts sugar and oil and that works well for a milder scrub. It really comes down to personal preference. I haven’t made a scrub with honey (although I’m intrigued!) but if the texture seems a little crumbly with the ratios you mention, you can simply add a little more oil. I hope that helps…and I’m sure everyone will enjoy!