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4 DIY Holiday Sugar Scrub Recipes

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Learn how to make holiday body scrubs in 4 delicious, festive varieties: Christmas sugar cookie, gingerbread, eggnog and peppermint candy cane. Each sugar scrub is scented with essential oils and makes for a lovely DIY Christmas gift.

DIY holiday sugar scrubs. Pictured: Christmas sugar cookie scrub, eggnog scrub, gingerbread scrub and candy cane scrub

Looking for a handmade gift idea? Or, maybe you’re in need of a little bit of festive self-care. Either way, homemade sugar scrubs are some of the easiest bath and body gifts you can make at home.

Plus, considering the holiday rush that sometimes sneaks up, they’re the perfect gift to whip up when you’re extremely short on time. You could easily make one of these scrubs in 10 minutes or less!

In this post, I share 4 DIY holiday sugar scrub recipes in mouthwatering scents that smell so good, you’ll want to eat them. Depending on your favourite holiday treat, there’s a scrub variation for everyone.

Each festive scent is created with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrance oils, but you can also substitute baking extracts if that’s what you have on hand.

Plus, if you have a little more time to make gifts, check out our DIY Christmas soap recipes, our festive sugar cookie body butter, or our holiday lip scrub recipes. All would make perfect pairings to a Christmas body scrub.

Tips for the best holiday sugar scrubs

These scrubs are a little bit different than the usual sugar scrub recipe. I’ve made a lot of homemade scrubs, but some of the issues I’ve noticed are separation, excess greasiness, and abrasiveness.

So, here are a couple of tips and quick fixes to make the best possible holiday body scrub.

How to keep sugar scrub from separating

Have you ever opened up your scrub jar and found a pile of oil sitting on top? While this is easily fixed by stirring before use, I wanted to prevent this issue from occuring in the first place.

One way to stop sugar scrubs from separating is to use an emulsifier such as emulsifying wax. This creates what’s called an emulsified sugar scrub.

However, I also wanted to make these recipes as quick and easy as possible. And using an emulsifier is a longer process that takes up valuable time while you’re rushing to prepare Christmas gifts.

So, I used starch instead. Starch helps bind the scrub components together, which keeps the oil from seeping out. As a bonus, it also gives the sugar scrub a really neat texture – like shortbread or Christmas sugar cookie dough.

In fact, you may want to put a label on your scrub gift in case your recipient thinks it’s edible!

How to make gentle body scrubs

Another common issue with sugar scrubs is that they can be harsh. Large sugar or salt granules have rough edges that can scrape or irritate sensitive skin.

Sugar scrubs should leave your skin smooth and moisturized, not raw or red. Plus, you don’t want to gift something that could irritate your recipient’s skin.

Rather than buying caster sugar (which is often more expensive), you can simply grind your sugar for a finer texture. The easiest way to do this is by making your sugar scrubs in the food processor. Not only is it faster than mixing by hand, but it also has the benefit of creating a smooth, uniform consistency.

Homemade holiday body scrub ingredients

To create each holiday sugar scrub, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Sugar. Finely granulated sugar creates a gentle exfoliating base for your scrubs. Brown sugar is also used in the gingerbread sugar scrub recipe.
  • Liquid coconut oil. I like to use fractionated coconut oil or MCT oil instead of the often-used coconut oil. Both oils are unscented, have very long shelf lives, and have a non-greasy skin feel. Plus, using a liquid oil will stop your sugar scrub from hardening.
  • Tapioca starch. As I mentioned, starch helps bind the oil and sugar together to prevent your sugar scrub from separating in storage. It also creates a nice, non-greasy texture that won’t leave skin overly oily. I used Natrasorb Bath, a special kind of tapioca starch for bath products. You can also use regular tapioca starch, arrowroot powder or corn starch.
  • Essential oils. Essential oils add a potent natural fragrance to your sugar scrubs. The essential oil combination will depend on which scrub variety you’re making.

    My favourite essential oil brand is Simply Earth. They’re actually affordable, not a MLM, and source all their oils ethically. I also love their monthly essential oil recipe box, which includes 4 full-size oils and other DIY ingredients every month. You can use code ALIFEADJACENTFREE to get a free $40 gift card with your first box.
  • Extracts. For the best and strongest natural fragrance, I recommend making your Christmas sugar scrubs with essential oils. But if you don’t have essential oils, you can also substitute baking extracts such as vanilla, almond, and peppermint extract.
  • Natural colourant. This will vary depending on which variety of sugar scrub you choose.

Materials for making Christmas sugar scrubs

Aside from your ingredients, you will also need the following equipment:

  • Food processor. A food processor is key for grinding your sugar into a soft powder. This creates a gentler, more finely textured body scrub.
  • Silicone spatula. Ideal for scooping every last bit of scrub out of the food processor and into your desired containers.
  • Storage jar. I used small, wide-mouth mason jars that are perfect for gift giving. You can also reuse any glass jars you have on hand. For more packaging ideas, see the section on gifting.

4 DIY Holiday Body Scrubs

The first holiday scrub variety is a decadent Christmas cookie sugar scrub. It’s quite remarkable how much it looks and smells like real cookie dough. It even feels like dough in your hands!

DIY Christmas cookie sugar scrub

Yes, if you’ve ever wondered how to make a sugar cookie scent, there’s a blend of essential oils that smells like sugar cookies. And ever since we created this special blend, we’ve created all sorts of cookie-scented recipes – sugar cookie body butter, frosted sugar cookie soap, and even room spray.

So, it was about time we created a Christmas cookie sugar scrub with our unique blend!

This scrub’s secret ingredient is a very uncommon essential oil – bitter almond oil.

Bitter almond is the same component that gives almond baking extract its aroma, and adds a mouthwatering flavour to desserts such as marzipan and amaretto cookies. It also gives this scrub an authentic sugar cookie fragrance that will make your mouth water.

It took a lot of experimentation to come up with this unique recipe as our goal was to come up with a blend that had never been done. In fact, we had never seen bitter almond oil used in a sugar cookie scent blend before we created it.

I can’t emphasize enough how delicious this combination is. It’s blended with vanilla oleoresin for sweetness, a dash of sweet orange, and a few drops of cinnamon leaf for a hint of Christmas spice.

But as we mentioned in our original post for this decadent blend, you can also use a simple mixture of vanilla oleoresin and bitter almond oil to achieve that warm sugar cookies aroma!

As for the scrub’s colour, vanilla essential oil adds a subtle vanilla cookie tone. I also enhanced it with a little bit of yellow clay.

DIY sugar cookie body scrub

For the finishing touch, I decorated the scrub with coloured sugar crystals to look like the top of a real frosted sugar cookie. However, I don’t recommend mixing them into your scrub, as large sugar granules are too sharp.

Originally, I wanted to use green and red jojoba beads. They’re made specifically for bath and body products, so they’re smooth and safe for scrubs. They also dissolve during use. However, my beads didn’t arrive in time for this post. So, if you’d like to decorate your sugar cookie scrub with exfoliating sprinkles, I recommend jojoba beads.

DIY Gingerbread Sugar Scrub

Sweet, rich, and slightly spicy, this gingerbread body scrub looks and smells just like a gingerbread cookie. Decorating it with a real gingerbread man is optional, but makes a cute finishing touch for gift giving.

DIY gingerbread sugar scrub

This Christmas scrub recipe is slightly different from the others. Instead of white sugar, I used a combination of white and brown sugar. Brown sugar has a wonderful molasses fragrance that helps this sugar scrub smell like real gingerbread.

It’s also scented with vanilla oleoresin, tonka bean absolute, and a few drops of Simply Earth’s Gingerbread essential oil blend. But if you don’t have the blend, you can also mimic the scent with ginger root, clove, nutmeg, and cassia (or cinnamon) essential oils.

If you haven’t heard of tonka bean absolute, it has a rich, caramel fragrance unlike any other essential oil. In fact, it really should be called the essential oil that smells like caramel!

I’ve been experimenting it for a while, and haven’t seen anyone else use it in a bath and body recipe. I first introduced it on our blog in my eggnog room spray and caramel latte coffee scrub.

Tonka bean has a very unique fragrance with a hint of mystique – depending on your nose, it can smell like vanilla, caramel, custard, or cinnamon buns, with a hint of cherry or marzipan. It helps add a sweet fragrance to this gingerbread scrub, like caramelized sugar.

However, I realize tonka bean oil is not exactly in everyone’s collection. So you can easily omit it or replace it with more vanilla oleoresin. But for a sweeter gingerbread aroma, I really recommend using tonka bean.

Finally, for the scrub’s colour, I added a hint of red clay for warmth. But the brown sugar already creates a molasses colour, so you can also choose to leave it as is.

Gingerbread Body Scrub Recipe

You can also create your own gingerbread fragrance by blending the following essential oils with your vanilla or tonka bean oil:

DIY Eggnog Sugar Scrub

The next scrub is another unique variety: eggnog! Just like real eggnog, this eggnog body scrub has a creamy, custard-like scent with a hint of holiday spice.

DIY eggnog sugar scrub

Its fragrance is created with a blend of tonka bean and nutmeg essential oils, and it smells surprisingly similar to real eggnog.

Tonka bean adds a sweet custard scent, but you can also substitute it for the more easily accessible vanilla essential oil. However, it won’t have quite the same fragrance. Nutmeg oil is also key for this recipe’s traditional holiday eggnog scent.

The eggnog scrub’s base is the same as the other Christmas scrubs, with a pinch of ground nutmeg for a realistic appearance. I also deepened the scrub’s colour with French yellow clay for that rich, egg-yolk colour.

I first shared my eggnog essential oil blend in our holiday room sprays. Sharing an eggnog sugar scrub recipe has been on my to-do list for years. There are so many recipes for different varieties of holiday sugar scrubs, so I was surprised no one had actually come up with one.

But since my blogging friend at The Pistachio Project came out with her eggnog sugar scrub first, I wanted to make sure I linked to her!

You can find her eggnog scrub here. It’s always nice to give credit to the first person to create a recipe, and I also wanted to make sure mine was different. As of right now, we’re the only 2 bloggers with eggnog sugar scrubs!

Eggnog Sugar Scrub Recipe

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup fractionated coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp yellow clay
  • 20 drops tonka bean oil or vanilla oleoresin (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 5 drops nutmeg essential oil
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg to garnish (optional)

DIY Candy Cane Sugar Scrub

Last but not least, the final holiday body scrub is a sweet candy cane variety. It’s scented with notes of mint balanced by a little bit of sweetness, just like a candy cane. As a bonus, it also makes a cooling foot scrub.

DIY candy cane sugar scrub

I used Simply Earth’s Candy Cane essential oil blend for that minty candy cane fragrance. But you can also use peppermint essential oil, spearmint essential oil, or peppermint extract in your sugar scrub.

For sweetness, you can use vanilla essential oil or vanilla extract, which blend well with mint. However, vanilla’s dark colour may add a yellow tinge to your scrub.

To combat this, I used bitter almond oil instead of vanilla, as it’s pale and won’t clash with your candy cane scrub’s pale pink shade. But you are welcome to use vanilla if you don’t mind any colour changes.

Bitter almond really does make things smell like sugar, which is why it works so well in the Christmas cookie and candy cane body scrubs.

For the scrub’s colour, I used natural pink food colouring powder. But you can also use a hint of red beet powder if you would prefer a more red-based pink. Other colourant options include pink clay or pink mica.

For a decorative touch for gifting, you can sprinkle your scrub with crushed candy canes. But I don’t recommend actually mixing candy into the scrub, as it has sharp edges that could cut the skin. The candy cane should also be removed prior to use.

Candy Cane Sugar Scrub Recipe

How to make DIY holiday sugar scrubs

Homemade Christmas sugar scrub for DIY gifts
  1. Clean your equipment. Before making your body scrub, be sure to wash your supplies with hot, soapy water.
  2. Combine sugar and oil. Begin by combining your sugar and oil in the food processor. Keep the processor going until the sugar is finely ground and the mixture forms a soft paste.
  3. Add your essential oils. Next, add your desired essential oils or baking extracts to fragrance your sugar scrub. Pulse to combine.
  4. Add the starch and scrub colourant. Add your starch and desired colourant, such as clay, spices, or beet powder. Blend until combined. All of these ingredients can affect the texture and colour of your scrub, so they should be added at the same time. Then, you can correct if necessary.
  5. Correct texture and colour. Stir your sugar scrub with a spoon and take note of the texture and colour. It should have the consistency of cookie dough or damp sand. However, this may differ depending on the ingredients.

    If it’s too wet, add a bit more starch to your preference. If it’s too dry, add a touch more oil. And if your scrub doesn’t look the want you want it to, add more colourant until you are satisfied. Blend to combine.

    Tip: The gingerbread scrub may require more starch, as brown sugar contains more moisture than white sugar.
  6. Package. Once you’ve achieved your desired colour and texture, your scrub is ready for packaging. Place it into your desired jar and affix a gift label. Your Christmas body scrub is now ready to gift!

DIY body scrub for Christmas gifts

If you plan to give your sugar scrubs as Christmas gifts, a pretty jar makes the perfect finishing touch.

Some of the best jars for homemade sugar scrubs include:

  • Mason jars. This classic jar is a favourite for gifting. I used wide-mouth 250ml jars. For stocking stuffers, use a small 4oz jar. Shallow mason jars are another versatile choice.
  • Clamp jars. These handy jars have a wire lid that’s perfect for attaching a gift label. Plus, your gift recipient can reuse them in their kitchen.
  • Spoon jar. A built-in spoon holder makes these spoon jars perfect for packaging sugar scrubs. The spoon can be used to scoop out your scrub so you don’t contaminate the container with wet hands.
  • Jam jars. It’s always a good idea to reuse what you have on hand, and jam jars make inexpensive and eco-friendly containers for sugar scrubs.
Yield: 1.5 cups sugar scrub

4 DIY Holiday Sugar Scrub Recipes

DIY holiday sugar scrubs. Pictured: Christmas sugar cookie scrub, eggnog scrub, gingerbread scrub and candy cane scrub

Learn how to make holiday sugar scrubs in 4 delicious, festive varieties: Christmas sugar cookie, gingerbread, eggnog, and peppermint candy cane. Each Christmas body scrub recipe is scented with essential oils and makes a lovely homemade gift idea.

Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $3

Materials

Christmas Cookie Sugar Scrub

Gingerbread Sugar Scrub

Eggnog Sugar Scrub

Candy Cane Sugar Scrub

Tools

  • Food processor
  • Silicone spatula
  • Jar for storage

Instructions

    1. Before making your body scrub, be sure to wash your supplies with hot, soapy water.
    2. Begin by combining your sugar and oil in the food processor. Keep the processor going until the sugar is finely ground and the mixture forms a soft paste.
    3. Next, add your desired essential oils or baking extracts to fragrance your sugar scrub. Pulse to combine.
    4. Add your starch and desired colourant, such as clay, spices, or beet powder. Blend until combined. All of these ingredients can affect the texture and colour of your scrub, so they should be added at the same time. Then, you can correct if necessary.
    5. Stir your sugar scrub with a spoon and take note of the texture and colour. It should have the consistency of cookie dough or damp sand. However, this may differ depending on the ingredients.

      If it's too wet, add a bit more starch to your preference. If it's too dry, add a touch more oil. And if your scrub doesn't look the want you want it to, add more colourant until you are satisfied. Blend to combine. 


      Tip: The gingerbread sugar scrub may require more starch, as brown sugar contains more moisture than white sugar.
    6. Once you've achieved your desired colour and texture, your scrub is ready for packaging. Place it into your desired jar and affix a gift label. Your holiday body scrub is now ready to gift.

Notes

For the best and strongest natural fragrance, I recommend making your Christmas sugar scrubs with essential oils. But you can also substitute baking extracts where applicable:

  • vanilla extract
  • peppermint extract
  • almond extract

If you don't have gingerbread oil, you can also create your own gingerbread fragrance by blending the following essential oils with your vanilla or tonka bean:

  • 7 drops ginger root essential oil
  • 3 drops clove essential oil
  • 3 drop cassia essential oil

Did you make this DIY?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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