While I love the wonderful facial cleansers I have on hand of my own making, I recently found myself hankering for a facial scrub without sugar, coffee, or salt that feels like the facial scrub I left behind years ago.
The name rhymes with Ain’t Hives….
I loved that scrub for years because the ground apricot kernels it contained were wonderful exfoliants and it had a lovely texture (even though I often thought it left my skin dry). While I didn’t use it every day, I did especially enjoy it in winter when I felt like I needed an especially fresh-scrubbed, clean feeling every few days. I ultimately broke up with Ain’t Hives years ago because some of the ingredients in the product were indefensible. Frankly, there was no recovering from finding sodium laureth sulfate on that original product’s ingredient panel.
Last week, I totally randomly decided to try my hand at making an imitation of that apricot scrub. I didn’t need it to be perfect or exactly like the original, but I did need it to leave me with the same fresh, exfoliated feeling.
Also, while I loved the exfoliating factor of the apricot scrub I used to use, I always needed a moisturizer afterwards. I was prepared for the fact that crafting a truly creamy scrub from a moisturizing base might leave me with a slightly greasy feeling on my face, but after pining for that old apricot scrub for weeks, I was willing to take a chance.
While I’d been contemplating how to craft an imitation scrub for some time, I didn’t flat-out run to my blending studio and make something until the moment I suddenly remembered that I actually had ground walnut shells in my cabinet.
With that realization, I figured I could probably fudge something from basic ingredients I had on hand to craft something that might approach the original scrub. I had no idea I would end up loving it SO much…
My Ain’t Hives apricot scrub substitute leveraged three basic ingredients as its base: a rich and thick body cream, organic Castile soap, and the aforementioned walnut shells. I figured the resulting mixture would clean, exfoliate, and moisturize at the very least.
I also added just a few drops of some of my favorite essential oils, mostly resins, to add aroma, energetics, and skin-nourishing properties to the blend. After throwing in two pinches of vanilla bean powder for good measure, I began to stir it. Within minutes, my husband walked over, sniffed the jar in my hands and cooed, “Wow. THAT smells UNBELIEVABLE.”
Good people, this was one of the best ideas I have ever randomly had. I am absolutely in love with my homemade walnut shell facial scrub — its light aroma smells like heaven on a stick and the combination leaves my face feeling positively sublime.
If you are still in bed with Ain’t Hives and trying to figure out how to break up with their apricot scrub, do I have a recipe for you!
“new day” facial scrub with walnut shells
- 6 ounces Calendula cream (a super-thick cream of my own design — any super-thick cream should do)
- 3 ounces organic liquid Castile soap
- 2 ounces ground walnut shells
- 8 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) essential oil
- 8 drops of Blood Orange* (Citrus sinensis) essential oil
- 6 drops Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) essential oil
- two pinches of Vanilla Bean powder (just because I love it, plus, more texture!)
*NOTE: Blood Orange is phototoxic. Since this is my winter version of this blend, I’m not out in the sun after I use it. If you’re making this in summer or expect to be exposed to sunlight or UV rays after use, go with Sweet Orange instead.
All I did was add the ingredients directly to a 16-ounce jar and whisk them with my teeny fairy whisk and, voila! Frankly, I am also positively giddy that it was so easy-peasy. At first I worried it would be a silly venture that just satisfied my desire to try and fail, but, nuh-uh.
Holycrap, y’all, it’s amazing.
I took a shower two hours after taking a shower just so I could immediately try the danged thing because it suddenly looked much better than I’d even dared imagine and DAMN. No words…. (It’s been over a week–can you tell I’m still excited?!)
I have totally solved my fix for a refreshing winter exfoliant.
If you’re trying to duplicate my recipe to get similar results, I encourage you to work with a true cream as opposed to a lotion or your scrub will end up too soupy. Even with my super-thick base cream, my blend is thinner than the scrub it emulates.
As information, my base cream is extremely thick on its own, but leaves almost no oil or waxy residue. The main ingredient in my cream is aloe vera gel, so while it is buttery, it’s not oily like a butter. It’s too thick for a pump dispenser and has exceptional coverage as it spreads evenly over the skin. It also absorbs quickly without leaving a film. The fact that it is thick without being waxy or greasy is a big deal in how my base cream serves this blend. Also, I call my base Calendula cream because it includes a heavenly Calendula extract that helps to nourish the skin; it also contains other face-friendly ingredients like witch hazel distillate, rose hydrosol, and shea butter among other things. Hopefully, those points can help you in finding the perfect cream to substitute.
Why I Chose These Ingredients
At the base level, I chose a thick cream, walnut shells, and soap because they were the shortest distance between me and the outcomes I wanted. I knew straight-up lotion would be too runny after mixing with the Castile soap. These ingredients also happened to be things I had on hand. Before blending, I imagined they would come together to mimic the creaminess, lather, and exfoliating properties of the scrub I was trying to mirror and improve upon. And they did.
At another level, I chose these ingredients very much because of what they contributed to the resulting scrub. My Calendula butter cream delivers LOTS of nourishing, wonderful ingredients for the face from aloe vera juice and witch hazel distillate to rose water and shea butter. The Calendula (Calendula officinalis) extract in the base cream not only supports my skin’s health, it also holds a bright, sunny association for me thanks the sparkling lightness and rich color of its source flower, the marigold. Since I have also had a bit of a heavy heart thanks to missing some of the folks I’ve loved and lost in the past year, I also appreciate Calendula’s association with reverence for and celebration of the dead; marigolds are used to adorn traditional altars during Day of the Dead ceremonies. (I’ve mooned over Calendula on the blog before…)
The walnut shells are pretty straightforward — they add texture and exfoliating properties to the blend. You will, of course, want to rethink the walnut source if you are allergic to nuts.
In Frankincense and Myrrh, I have two amazing aromatic essential oils derived from resins. In nature, resins serve to heal the wounds of their sources. They are generally celebrated for their ability to heal and nourish skin. Both Frankincense and Myrrh also add an energetic element that encourages stillness and introspection. They facilitate focus without making my mind race which I just what I need in the morning!
Blood Orange, on the other hand, gets things my thoughts moving in a positive direction. It has an inimitable, sparkling fragrance that reminds me of cheerful bubbles popping against a summer sky. Its aroma is both rich and bright — and it blends perfectly with the resins in this blend by adding a delicious top note without making things feel too much like a children’s birthday party. While Blood Orange has a reputation for being phototoxic, I haven’t worried about it with this blend as the it appears here in a very low relative dilution and the product is being washed off in the shower before I head out to begin my day. (Of course, it’s also grey and fuh-reezing where I live, so I’m not exactly out in the sun all day after I’ve used it these days!) When making this again (because I will DEFINITELY be making this again!) for a sunnier season, I will shift to a different essential oil that doesn’t leave me wondering about phototoxicity to balance the resinous aromas of the Frankincense and Myrrh.
The vanilla bean powder added subtle aroma and still more texture and thickness, even though I only added a couple of pinches. Of course, it also brings all the magic of Vanilla….
Next time, I think I might add some ground Frankincense and Myrrh resins as well, just to make it even more luxurious, thick, and textured.
For now, though, I’m in HEAVEN! And I will remain over the moon even if I never change one thing.