This lovely creamy shea exfoliating scrub was born of a recipe request from Carmen, who wrote “I was wondering if you can create a creamy body/face scrub like the ones you buy in supermarket. If you can have a base of shea butter but make it creamy, as a lotion and add some scrub in it, like poppy seeds. I know you have body scrubs , but they are not creamy, like the lotions. And if possible something that lasts at least one month. Thank you.”
In the midst of a rather dry February such a scrub sounded utterly decadent, so I set out to create one. I started with a simple shea butter lotion to create a thick, creamy base. I decided to just use shea butter as the oil in the lotion so it would be thick and rich—perfect for dry skin. I used emulsifying wax NF in this recipe, but blended it with an immersion blender rather than just whisking it to get the lotion to thicken up faster than it would otherwise. You’ll want your lotion base to thicken into a nice cream quickly(ish) so you can stir in your exfoliants and have them stay suspended. Lotions made with Emulsimulse/Ritamulse will thicken up straight away without an immersion blender, but you’ll want to use an immersion blender with e-wax NF (I haven’t tested the blender + polawax combination yet to see if that speeds up thickening there, but I suspect it does).
The water part is a simple blend of water and hydrating vegetable glycerin. To all this I’ve added a fresh, sweet essential oil blend of lavender and fir balsam, which is an utterly lovely combination for diffusing in your home as well.
And now to make it exfoliating! There are so many options for exfoliants, and you can have lots of fun here depending on how scrubby you want your end product to be, and which part of your body you want to use it on. I wanted something mildly scrubby for my legs, arms, and torso, so I used a blend of pumice and coarse salt, but you might prefer jojoba beads, cornmeal, poppy seeds, sugar, or any other gritty thing you’ve got lying around. If you decide to go freestyle with your exfoliant I do recommend starting with small additions, working your way up and testing on the part of you body where you’re planning on using the scrub. If you find a scrub level you like for your hands but intend to use the scrub on your face you’ll find it’s far too abrasive, and vice versa.
Creamy Shea Exfoliating Scrub
70g | 2.45oz distilled water
5g | 0.17oz vegetable glycerin
1 tbsp medium to coarse pumice (fine is too fine to notice on your body)
1 tsp coarse salt
While the emulsifying wax mixture is melting, combine the water and glycerin in a small heat resistant glass measuring cup and stir to combine.
Once the emulsifying wax mixture has melted, add the water mixture. Heat through to ensure everything is melted before removing the pan from the heat.
Whisk the mixture as it cools—it will thicken into a nice white cream. I’d recommend using an immersion blender to ensure quicker thickening, especially if you are using a different emulsifying wax than emulsimulse/ritamulse. If you’re using e-wax NF you’ll find it takes about twenty minutes for the lotion to thicken after blending it.
Whisk in the essential oils and your preservative (though do check the instructions for your specific preservative—some have special instructions for adding to concoctions), and then start stirring in your exfoliants. Test between additions until you achieve the scrubby level you’re looking for.
When you’re happy with your scrub, move it to a wide-mouthed plastic or metal jar, or a wider mouthed squeezy bottle/tube (I’d be concerned about the exfoliants clogging a pump). Avoid glass as this will be used in your shower/bath.
To use, massage the cream all over your body in the shower and rinse it off. Enjoy!