Turn an old lotion or body wash into a body scrub

So you bought a lotion or body wash, and after a while you found something that smelled nicer, or the seasons changed and your skin needed something different. Now you have this half-used cosmetic product that’s destined for the landfill.

Turn an old lotion or body wash into a body scrub

Instead, make it into a body scrub. Lotions make a rich, moisturizing body scrub while body washes make a cleansing one. These can actually be much better than a lot of store-bought body scrubs because you get to control scent and texture.

The basic rule is to mix a tablespoon of your exfoliant per cup of lotion or body wash. The exfoliants you might want to try include:

  • Ground walnuts or almonds. If you have a coffee grinder or food processor that can grind these up into tiny little specks, you can do this yourself (stop grinding before it turns into a paste). Otherwise, look for ground walnuts or almonds as a pre-sold food ingredient at grocery or health food stores. This makes for a fairly intense scrub which may be rough on some sensitive skin people, but is awesome on rough and dry skin.
  • Ground oatmeal. Probably the best choice for sensitive skin. Oatmeal makes for a rather fine scrub – still very effective, but gentle, and with all the soothing anti-itch, anti-redness properties of oatmeal.
  • Ground apricot pits. Another rather intense scrub. Be very careful to get all of it ground up very fine – watch for sharp pieces that don’t get trimmed down to size.
  • Corn meal. Another fairly gentle option for people with sensitive skin.
  • Coarse salt. A really popular as a body scrub ingredient right now. It can be drying, so it’s only recommended for oily skin.
  • Coarse raw sugar. Another really popular ingredient which works for combination and dry skin. The sugar polishes without dehydrating.
  • Old coffee grounds. This is a nice bit of recycling – keep old coffee grounds to use in scrubs. The caffeine smooths cellulite as well as polishing skin.

That’s really all you need to do – add your ingredients together, and have fun. But if you want, you can also add:

  • Vitamins. Try a couple of capsules of E or crush tablets of A or C, and mix that up in your scrub.
  • Essential oils. It’s important to do research rather than just add what smells nice. For example, lavender essential oil is drying – great as an acne spot treatment, but not ideal for dry skin. Start with just a drop or two – you’ll be shocked how much scent some oils provide. Vanilla extract is a great choice, too.


  1. says

    The coffee grounds are a great tip! This is such a coincidental post to come across; I just went through a whole bag of moisturizers (gifts) that I never use and couldn’t think of a place to put them that wouldn’t be just moving them around and never using them. Now they’re useful again!

    I’ve come across quite a few recipes that say that this oil is good for blah and that oil is good for bleh… Is there a good list you know of that lays it all out for you? Just curious.

  2. SnappyLiving says

    I’ll do some research and make a post about it today or tomorrow, Eve! Please check back for it.

  3. Bella Gould says

    I had one of those sets from bath and body works with the mini matching bodywash and lotion. I did half of each and added a tablespoon of raw sugar. The best scrub I have ever used

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