Homemade Exfoliants for Autumn

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Baltimore-based aesthetician Arika Casebolt knows good skin in every season.

Ah, autumn in Baltimore. So fleeting. So…schizophrenic. One day I’m putting away my summery clothes and reacquainting myself with cashmere cardigans, the next it’s 86 degrees again. For one day. Thanks to the bipolar nature of our local weather, Baltimoreans must be prepared to show some skin, during three of the four (alleged) seasons. Enter rejuvenating exfoliants. (Find a great homemade recipe after the jump.)

There is a dizzying and constantly growing array of skin smoothers on the market, ranging in price from a few dollars to hundreds. However, I have been creating my own body exfoliating concoctions for years. They work as well or better than the pricey ones (although I do love those, too) and honestly, if I’m going to cut corners economically, making my own body scrub is a no brainer. They are less glamorous, I think, only because I know I made them — if you put my concoctions in prettier glass containers and added a French label, I’d never know the difference, in efficacy or luxury of experience.

I prefer sugar mixed with milk and fruit as opposed to salt when creating my body exfoliant; sugar is gentler on the epidermis, and fruit and milk contain alpha hydroxy and lactic acids. These yummy concoctions translate into the double whammy of smoothing properties: the grains mechanically exfoliate, and the AHAs and milk acids smooth the skin on a cellular level. My favorite AHA-packed fruit is pumpkin, which just happens to be right in front of us now, so close to Halloween. Below, find my favorite body-exfoliant blend — you can use more or less of any ingredient to suit your fancy, and adding a little clove essential oil makes this a sensory treat for next to no cash.

If you’re the pumpkin-carving type, just pulverize the raw flesh in a food processor or blender. I just use canned organic pumpkin, about a cup. Then I add a half-cup of any oil. I prefer almond oil, but any nut- or fruit-based oil works fine. Next, mix in a half-cup or so of whole cow’s milk (goat’s milk is great too), and if you’re dairy-free, skip this part altogether — you’ll still create a really effective body-smoother. Lastly, add super-fine granulated sugar a little bit at a time until you’ve achieved your desired texture. I like aggressive scrubs that are more pastelike; some people prefer a more gloopy version. At this point, if you want to add a little clove essential oil for a more complete sensory experience, six to 10 drops should be perfect.

Now, the trick to any effective body sloughing is this: Always apply your scrub on DRY skin, BEFORE getting into the shower. This makes an enormous difference in the efficacy of your scrub, as dry skin can be more thoroughly removed than moist, softer skin. Then, after about five minutes of scrubbing and allowing the mixture to do its thing, jump in the shower and rinse it all off. You’ll be amazed at your silky sleekness. And this is important: DO NOT USE THIS EXFOLIATOR ON YOUR FACE or in very delicate areas of the body. This stuff is pretty aggressive.

You can store any leftover scrub in the refrigerator. It should last for weeks if kept cold. Now, you have added benefit to the pumpkin-carving ritual, and you’ll feel all crafty and thrifty as well as smooth to the touch, and — perhaps most importantly — ready for anything.


Arika Casebolt is an aesthetician and make-up artist with over a decade of experience practicing aesthetics and beauty science. She is fully licensed in Maryland and D.C. and has worked for Natural Body Arlington, BlueMercury Dupont Circle, Charm City Skin and Chop Shop… As a writer, Arika has contributed to the D.C. City Paper, Verve Scene and Style, The Baltimore Examiner, Scripps-Howard News Service, and more — her blog is BeautyforBeauty. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, pets, and a constantly growing embarrassment of beauty products.

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  1. Ooh, I hate to be the one asking the dumb question, but I’ll be brave: Is “super-fine granulated sugar” equivalent to powdered sugar? Like if I go to Safeway and walk down the baking aisle, what do I look for?

  2. Arika says: Not a stupid question! Actually no, powdered sugar and granulated sugar are different things. Don’t use powdered sugar! If you can’t find the “superfine” formula of granulated sugar, go ahead and just get regular granulated sugar, it’ll work fine. However, most grocery stores have superfine granulated sugar. Good sugar-hunting, and please let me know how your scrub turns out!
    Thanks for writing,
    Your Devoted Partner in Exfoliation,

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