Recipes – exfoliants

Oil exfoliants

Basic ingredients

Oil exfoliants are mostly used for combination or dry skin type, but this is just a suggestion and not the rule. They are finely lubricated because they are slowly absorbed, the lubricating effect of the oil prevents skin irritation more than the gel. When using some exfoliants, many people simply physically remove the exfoliating particles after application, leaving a layer of vegetable oil that will nourish the skin and thus get a 2 in 1 type of product.

We have yet to get to learn about vegetable oils in detail. However, here we will list some of the types of vegetable oils by skin type.

Oils for general skin care are most often used in exfoliants, such as coconut, kukui, macadamia, apricot, almond, but also cheaper sesame or sunflower oils, so that you do not go bankrupt at the first exfoliation. The choice will depend on the desired texture and absorbency.
Kukui, macadamia and coconut oil are absorbed extremely quickly, while almond or sesame oil is absorbed a little slower. You will determine for yourself what suits you best.

Grape seed oil, yangu, hazelnut and jojoba wax (jojoba wax in concentrations of 10-30%) are used for oily and combination skin.

For dry skin, you will choose oils that are slower to absorb and are typical in dry skin care: argan, olive oil, rosehip seed oil, wheatgerm and similar oils that we will learn in more detail.

I already mentioned the use of coconut butter. It is good because it is at room temperature of such consistency that it mixes very easily with the abrasive. However, coconut butter is sometimes complicated because in summer, it can be liquid at room temperature. Other butters are a little more complex.

Shea butter has a pasty consistency and although it can be mixed with an abrasive, it is wise to add 20-30% of another vegetable oil to make it softer while still maintaining the consistency of the butter.
Solid butters (cocoa, sal, kokum, tucuma…) are the most complicated. Namely, they are so rigid that they are very difficult to mix by hand. Therefore, they need to be melted so that, when it hardens again, you get a bar for massage and exfoliation. And there is a small problem: if you want to make softer butter, you will have to add vegetable oil (depending on the butter 20-40%), but if you then mix a small amount of abrasive, it will simply sink to the bottom of the bar and the product itself will be very unprofessional. Therefore, you will need patience and you will have to mix it until a paste is formed and only then add the abrasive. Another option is to choose abrasives that are lighter: plant powders, fruits like poppy and coffee that won’t sediment as quickly. There is also the possibility of using relatively larger amounts of abrasives, but then these bars can also become uncomfortable.

The point of butter is that they have a different texture and melt on the skin, but they also like to “stick” and the peeling is not so lubricating. If you ask me, the best is coconut or a little less often available babassu butter.

Do not forget that you can use all of the macerates in exfoliants because of their healing effects.

Choosing abrasives is easy because most abrasives are compatible with oils, so you will choose them as desired.

Additives in exfoliants

One of the objections to vegetable oils is their greasiness. And we can play with that. If you add 5-10% of some of the absorption enhancers to the vegetable oil, after removing the abrasive particles, you will be left with a pleasant smooth layer and the vegetable oil will be absorbed quickly. As we will get to know later, the texture game of oils is very complex. Sometimes we will reach for oils that are quickly absorbed (kukui, coconut), and sometimes we will choose to add an absorption enhancer. We will get to know the absorption enhancers, of which there are many, in more detail with vegetable oils, but here we will mention several.

Cetiol V (INCI: Decyl oleate) is an ester of oelic acid and decanol alcohol and is chemically a wax (ester of long-chain fatty acid and long-chain alcohol). 5-10% of this compound, which is made up of building blocks isolated from natural raw materials, will instantly make the oil exfoliant completely different. Try it to prepare for the chapter on oils, where we will play with the textures in more detail.

Squalane (INCI: Squalane) is a hydrocarbon that is naturally present in some vegetable oils and you can find information about this in the chapter on vegetable oils. It is also added 5-10%. For oily and combination skin, it is wiser to choose Cetiol V, and for dry skin, squalane or Cetiol V.

The third emollient and absorption enhancer is Cetiol RLF (on Aromazone called Caprylis, INCI: Caprylyl caprylate/caprate), which is obtained by fractionation of coconut oil and penetrates the skin very quickly. We will get to know it in more detail in the chapter about cosmetic oils. It is added by 10-50%, depending on the desired penetration property.

You can add other medicinal substances to oil peels:

  • CO2 extracts of marigold, chamomile or arnica are added for anti-inflammatory or medicinal effects. Usually 0.2-0.5% is added to the final product. We add CO2 rosemary extract as an antioxidant if necessary (for exfoliants that you will use in a month, it is not necessary). You can read about its usage in the chapter on macerates.
  • glycerol does not mix or melt with oils, but you may add it to exfoliants with a higher amount of abrasive, such as exfoliants with ground herbs or grains. In these exfoliants, glycerol will be dispersed in the oil along with the abrasive particles. Glycerol is a humectant, read more about it in chapter about tonics.
  • essential oils are added for two reasons: the first is action and the second is odour correction. We will also learn them in more detail later on. Here we will limit ourselves to real lavender, palmarosa, carrot seeds, citrus oils, rosemary verbenone, tea tree and other already widely known oils. Essential oils are less often added to abrasives than plant parts that have their own scent (lavender, chamomile, yarrow…), and more often to exfoliants of odourless plant abrasives (bamboo, field horsetail…).

Chemical peels are not added to oil exfoliants.

Let’s start now with the recipes for some of the exfoliants. Keep in mind that the recipes are just guidelines and you will most likely start your research very quickly.

Recipe 1: Sunny exfoliant

It comes straight from the kitchen with little cosmetic ingredients that turns the culinary tradition into a little luxury.

Weigh 30 grams of corn semolina. Choose the one with nice particles, very often those particles are quite rough and sharp. I prefer real semolina, and “instant” variants usually have finer particles. Weigh 15g of marigold macerate in almond oil, apricot or some other liquid oil and 5g of glycerol. Put 2 drops of immortelle essential oil and 4 drops of sweet orange essential oil. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. During this time, the semolina will “drink” part of the oil and soften a bit. Since the structures of the semolina differ, if necessary, add more marigold macerate to the desired consistency, depending on whether you prefer a liquid exfoliant. Mix well again. Spend within a week.

The combination of yellow corn semolina and yellow marigold macerate gives a refreshing yellow colour, and we matched the scent with the colour: immortelle (famous anti age oil) and orange make a beautiful and somewhat exotic bouquet.

The variants of this exfoliant are countless- without essential oil, with other essential oils, other vegetable oils… If you like it better, feel free to throw out glycerol which, although it moisturizes the skin, gives a slightly sticky structure to the exfoliant. The ascetic variant of this exfoliant consists only of oil and corn semolina. Although a bit rough, it is used for both face and body.

Recipe 2: Three exfoliants, three textures

The purpose of this exfoliants, a variation on the theme of the sunny exfoliant, is to teach us the diversity of textures depending on the subtle changes in the matrix, not the change of the abrasive.

Weigh 30 grams of wheat semolina into three different bowls.

  • weigh 15-20 grams of argan vegetable oil into bowl
  • in another, weigh 15-20 grams of kukui vegetable oil
  • in the third, weigh 15-20 grams of argan vegetable oil and 2 grams of Cetiol V

Mix well. If necessary, adjust the density with the addition of more vegetable oil, if necessary.

Compare the textures during application, and after you have mechanically removed the abrasive particles, compare the feeling on the skin (oily film, feeling of softness of the skin) immediately after removal, after 10 minutes and after an hour. This is a great overture for choosing your favourite oily matrix variant.

Recipe 3: Dalmatian exfoliant

Exclusively ingredients from the Dalmatian climate: olive, rosemary and sage, very simple and not at all expensive. The advantage of exfoliant with salt, if it is not rough, is a finer structure in relation to corn or wheat semolina. It is wise, however, to rinse this scrub with water or shower after application, to remove salt from the face and body surface.

Weigh 40 grams of fine sea salt and add 12 grams of olive oil. I prefer bitter, emerald green olive oils. Be careful not to add water and glycerol! Add 3 drops of rosemary chemotype verbenone essential oil and 3 drops of sage essential oil. Mix well. If necessary, adjust the density with the addition of olive oil. Exfoliant is stable for several months and at room temperature. We cheated a little and added a Corsican rather than a Dalmatian rosemary chemotype. This exfoliant is a real “homemade” refreshment with a pleasant texture.

The presence of essential oils of rosemary verbenone and sage has a beneficial effect on oily and combination skin type, and their concentrations are low so as not to irritate the skin too much. Replacing olive oil with grape seed oil or yangu is a great idea for this skin type.

Recipe 4: Himalayan exfoliant I

A little bit of exotic doesn’t hurt, does it? The Himalayan salt comes in a variety of finesse, so choose the smallest possible.

Weigh 40 grams of fine Himalayan salt and add 12 grams of almond oil. Be careful not to add water and glycerol! Add 2 drops of carrot seed essential oil and 4-5 drops of palmarosa essential oil. The finest carrot seed oil is obtained from wild carrots, so choose one that has a superior scent. Mix well. If necessary, correct the density by adding oil. Exfoliant is stable for several months and at room temperature.

You will get a very likable pink exfoliant with an archaic powdery scent from the beginning of the 20th century, all in the name of skin care. This is also an ideal exfoliator for more sensitive skin because the particles of the finest Himalayan salt are very fine. Play with it. The addition of St. John’s wort macerate extremely emphasizes the pink-red colour of the salt and gives it an anti-inflammatory character, but at the expense of the smell.

Recipe 5: Himalayan exfoliant II (by Dubravka Gabrić)

A delicious combination of “three oranges”, a topic that we will encounter many times because it is a real paradise for the sense of smell. Weigh 40 grams of fine Himalayan salt and add 12 grams of apricot kernel oil. Be careful not to add water and glycerol! Add 2 drops of neroli essential oil, 3 drops of bitter orange and 4 drops of sweet orange. Mix well. If necessary, correct the density by adding oil. Exfoliant is stable for several months and at room temperature.

Recipe 6: Coconut kiss and playing with the abrasive texture

We will now play around with the textures of the abrasive to see how important the abrasive is in the oil matrix.

Weigh 45g of coconut oil into a small ceramic polished or metal mortar (not plastic because you will scratch it). You will make several combinations:

  • 5g of hard apricot kernel, particle size 0.2 or 0.5 mm
  • 5g of finely ground almonds
  • 5g of ground sweet orange pits, particle size 0.5 mm
  • 2.5g of fibrous bamboo or fine loofah exfoliant (0.03 or 0.2mm)
  • 5g of silicon-rich bamboo shoots

Mix well to form a homogeneous mass. It will be easy because coconut oil/butter is very malleable. Just make sure it’s not liquid. Compare textures that are very different and describe for yourself what is good for you. With bamboo exfoliant, you have already entered the world of homemade microdermabrasion. All the resulting exfoliants are very stable.

In essence, this way you can play for the rest of your life to get to know the textures. Once you’ve mastered them, start combining two abrasives, for example: 2.5g of ground orange pits and 2.5g of apricot kernel exfoliant.

Recipe 7: Chamomile exfoliant

Weigh 10g of chamomile flowers. If necessary, clean the plant material from the remaining stems. Grind well in a ribbed mortar or better yet in an electric coffee grinder, until you get a powdery material. If necessary, sieve the material on a coarser sieve to remove larger particles, or remove them manually.

Add about 30 grams of vegetable oil like almond oil and 10g of glycerol. Mix well. If necessary, add vegetable oil to the desired consistency (the material must be soaked, not floating in the oil). Give it a try. Glycerol is useful because this exfoliant is more sticky, but it is not necessary. This is a gentle exfoliant that soothes the skin, except, of course, for people who are allergic to chamomile.

Recipe 8: Vanilla and lavender exfoliant

It would be an absolute injustice not to mention lavender flowers as an exfoliant because they have a pleasant fibrous structure and a scent that doesn’t need to be described. In the vanilla macerate, they reveal the almost culinary splendour of cosmetics. They are ideal for sensitive skin.

Weigh 5g of lavender flowers. It is ideal to have real lavender and not lavandin. Add about 50g of vanilla macerate. Lavender flowers must be soaked in plenty of oil. Do not use immediately- leave for 3-5 days for the flowers to soften and to form a fine double macerate. Then use it. Of course, if you want, feel free to try the difference between an exfoliant that has just been made and one that has softened a bit, and choose your pet.

Recipe 9: Luxury trio exfoliant (by Dubravka Gabrić)

Weigh 5g of CO2 vegetable oils of raspberry seeds, black currant and strawberry. Mix. Add 30g of strawberry seeds and mix. This combination is expensive, but has one advantage: when you remove the strawberry seeds which is easy, you will leave the oil to act as a serum.

Recipe 10: Oil exfoliant for the feet

Face, face, face… how about to thing about the body for a while? And your feet? Of course you take care of your feet, but maybe not enough. We will use mineral abrasives which are great exfoliators, unfortunately they are often unavailable so I will give a few possible variants. I opted for castor vegetable oil which has multiple functions. It is very viscous and sticky, so the exfoliating particles do not precipitate, and they adhere well to the skin. Castor oil cleans well the “excess” of fungus from the feet.

Weigh 20 grams of 0.2mm rhyolite or salt. Add 20 grams of castor oil and mix. To avoid exfoliating your palms more than your feet, wear gloves if necessary. Rub and massage your feet for a few minutes, pay more attention to the parts where the skin is harder. Meanwhile, prepare the basin with warm water. After exfoliation, put your feet in water (do not wipe before) and hold for 10-15 minutes to allow warm water, along with castor oil, to soften your feet. Do it up to 2x a week.

Recipe 11: Muscovado exfoliant (by Dubravka Gabrić)

When fine sugar becomes a luxury ingredient, we get a paradise for all the senses, even the taste buds. Choose dark fine Muscovado sugar that smells of caramel and cane, and adheres comfortably to the body. Weigh 40g of Muscovado sugar, 15g of vanilla macerate and add 6-8 drops of lemon essential oil. Mix well. Apply to damp skin and gently massage. Moist skin will dissolve a small amount of sugar, and this effect increases skin hydration. Compare with the texture of the salt and choose your favourite.

Recipe 12: Exfoliant for combination and oily skin (by Dubravka Gabrić)

Everything is in the sign of nuts: the abrasive is walnut shells, and oils are Brazil nut oil, macadamia nut oil, hazelnut oil… Energetic exfoliant with an exotic scent of lemon and ginger. Weigh 30g of walnut abrasive, 5g of macadamia vegetable oil, 2g of Brazil nut oil, 8g of hazelnut oil and 5g of caprylic triglycerides (on Aromazone Capryilis, trade name Cetiol RLF9). Add 8 drops of lemon and 3-4 drops of ginger essential oil. High quality ginger essential oil comes to us from Madagascar where a special chemotype grows, and the essential oil has the scent of fresh ginger juice. It is rarely found. This Madagascar oil that is my favourite, not the one from Sri Lanka.

If you don’t have Brazil nut oil, replace them with macadamia nut oil. If you don’t have Caprylis, it can be replaced with Cetiol V, but the texture isn’t the same.

Gel exfoliants

Basic ingredients

There is a lot of advantage in stacking knowledge. Therefore, with gel exfoliants, we only need to remember the recipes for gels. I have already said that the best facial exfoliant is red algae gel because it is slippery, dries more slowly and is pleasant for the skin, and it is also very ecological, unlike carbopol gel.

Let us first remember two variants of red algae gel:

Variant 1 – more rare gel

You will need:

Aloe vera 10:110
Red algae gel40
Hydrolate arnica45

Weigh into a mixing glass the red algae gel, glycerol and hydrolate. Wait and don’t put aloe vera yet! Mix well until a homogeneous gel is formed. Then add aloe vera 10: 1. Mix well.

This gel has a thinner consistency, but is very pleasant for the skin. It causes only a very mild feeling of skin tightening. It is usually filled into cosmetic tubes.

The algae gel itself is preserved with a natural preservative, so it is harder to spoil. However, keep it cool.

Variant 2 – thicker gel

Hydrolate arnica5
Aloe vera 10:110
Red algae gel65

Prepare the gel in the same way as for variant 1. Due to the higher concentration of glycerol, this gel is also more transparent, and due to the higher proportion of algae gel (from 40% to 65%), it is also thicker (more viscous).

Aloe vera 10:1 is not a necessary ingredient in this exfoliant, you are free to replace it with hydrolate. You will also save a little.

Once you have the gel ready, you will simply weigh a compatible abrasive, the amount is relative to the desired exfoliation intensity. It is usually added 2-10%. Therefore, the preparation of such exfoliants is really simple.

Recipe 13: Royal exfoliant (by Dubravka Gabrić)

The already described pleasant texture of red algae gel, spiced with hydrolate or, even better, neroli essential water. Allantoin will soothe the skin, and Dubravka pulled our favourite trump card out of the sleeve: wild pansy EPS extract, so with this we start with a combination of phytotherapy in cosmetics that we will encounter a lot in emulsion systems. Wild pansy nourishes, is great for all skin types, from sensitive to oily skin prone to acne.

Apricot kernels, particle size 0,3-0,5mm3
Hydrolate or essential water neroli11,8
EPS extract wild pansy10
Red algae gel65

Weigh all the ingredients except the apricot kernels. Mix well to form a homogeneous gel that is slightly cloudy. Weigh the apricot kernels and add them, then mix. This exfoliant is stable for several months.

Play as much as you want with this baseline, with more or less abrasives, or with some other combinations. If you do not have EPS, replace it with glycerol.

Recipe 14: The finest exfoliant in the world

Sometimes it pays to be pretentious. It is the finest for several reasons. First: it contains very fine particles, so this is an exfoliant for all those who complain that the exfoliation only “tears” their skin. Second: not only does it have rose hydrolate or rose essential water, but it also contains EPS of rose root, which with its rose- like scent and stimulating effect wins the most distrustful hearts. To make everything very “pro”, I introduced two levels of abrasive granulation, which are extremely fine.

Orange exfoliant, particle size less than 0,5mm5
Bamboo shoots exfoliant (rich in silicom)5
Rose hydrolate or essential water14,8
EPS extract rose root10
Red algae gel65

Weigh all ingredients except abrasive. Mix well to form a homogeneous gel that is slightly cloudy. Weigh the abrasives and add them, and mix well. This exfoliant is stable for several months.

Of course, if you prefer coarser peels (this one is really very “discreet”), you are free to replace the abrasive.

Recipe 15: Duo & duo

An unusual name, but this is the time to learn duo number one: a combination of chemical peel and mechanical exfoliant (scrub). Duo number two is a combination of two abrasives of different granulations- one for rough and the other for fine exfoliation. This brings you closer to the most professional exfoliants.

Orange exfoliant, particle soze less than 0,5mm5
Apricot kernels, particle size 0,3-0,5mm3
Rosemary verbenone hydrolate11,8
AHA fruit acids15
Red algae gel65

Weigh all ingredients except abrasive. Mix well to form a homogeneous gel that is slightly cloudy. Weigh the abrasives and add them, and mix well. This exfoliant is stable for several months. Apply on a clean face and leave to dry for 15-20 minutes. During this time, AHA acids penetrate the skin and perform chemical peel. Then soak your face with water and rub with your hands to make the abrasives do their job.

Play with other abrasives too but think about chemistry: if you put, for example, Bora-Bora sand which is a carbonate, a chemical reaction with AHA acids will occur and the exfoliant will foam.

Recipe 16: Chocolate coffee

Now is the time for quite ordinary ingredients. To stimulate the skin’s metabolism, but also as pure treat, we will make a fine coffee exfoliant in xanthan gel. Nothing new, an already seen topic, but in order to intensify the exfoliation, we will discreetly touch on the topic of surfactants, foaming agents, and we will choose yucca saponins. The exfoliant has the scent of coffee and yucca saponins, which have a slightly burned, chocolate-caramel scent that is very intriguing. If necessary and desired, add the natural aroma of caramel from Aromazone (about 2%).

Yucca saponins10
Ground coffee15

Weigh xanthan and glycerol. Rub well. Add water, mix and let it swell. Add the yucca saponins and stir. Add coffee, mix and use fresh.


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