Easy Hand & Body Sugar Scrub

By Ann Fulton

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This customizable, boutique-worthy scrub is effective, economical, and smells good enough to eat. It also makes a thoughtful gift that can be made in minutes!


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.

DRY, CRACKED HANDS FROM LOTS OF WASHING? This easy scrub will cure them. Easy to customize and perfect for gift giving, too.

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.

Easy, customizable & so effective. If your skin is dry and cracked, this will cure it! Perfect for gift giving, too.

A squat jar makes it easy to scoop out the scrub. These half pint, wide mouth Ball jars are functional yet pretty too.

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, customizable & so effective. If your skin is dry and cracked, this will cure it! Perfect for gift giving, too.
Easy Hand & Body Sugar Scrub
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
This customizable, boutique-worthy scrub is effective, economical, and smells good enough to eat! (Yields 2 cups with the extra exfoliation option described in the notes section)
  • 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.

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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. Nancy

    I’m looking forward to making the scrub! It sounds wonderful and will make a great Christmas gift.
    I can’t find glass jars like you used. Where would I find them?
    Thank you,

  2. Candice Arnold

    I am recently considering making my own scrubs. I appreciate your easy-to-follow recipes and suggestions. I can’t wait to try these.

  3. Donna

    I made a lemon sugar scrub this weekend, melted oil and mixed in with other ingredients. It seems like it solidified. Is this okay?

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Donna, I mention in the recipe that I soften but don’t melt the coconut oil. This ensures the sugar doesn’t dissolve and the mixture remains creamy with a good amount of texture for the sake of exfoliation. Your scrub will still be totally fine to use, and the texture may improve if you give it a good stir. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Hayley, The scrub lasts for many months although it will firm up slightly over time. If you’d like the texture to be at its creamiest, I’d recommend giving it within a couple weeks of making…but again, the scrub will still be great for a long time. What a lovely shower gift!

    2. Dawna

      I just made your hand and body sugar scrub, it was so awesome I always have rough hands and that helped do much! Thank you!

  4. Annette Howell

    I just made it and used it. Love it my hands and body feel 20 years younger. Giving this as a gift to all the ladies in my family. Ty

    1. Ann Post author

      I love your 20 year description, Annette. It is amazing how something so simple works so well. I’m happy you’ll be making a gift out of this and appreciate your comment!