See how to make a natural DIY exfoliating face scrub! This homemade facial scrub gently buffs the skin and is free of harsh exfoliants like sugar or salt. The easy face scrub recipe is suitable for all skin types and can be customized to suit your skincare needs.

DIY exfoliating face scrub for glowing skin

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Homemade face scrub for glowing skin

After sharing plenty of body scrub recipes, it was about time to make a homemade face scrub. Since sugar scrubs are a no-no for the face, I created a gentle face scrub without sugar that is suitable for all skin types.

This DIY face scrub for glowing skin has a lightweight gel texture. Plus, my easy DIY face scrub recipe needs just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes to make. I also share tips how you can tailor the scrub to your skin type.

And what gives this face polish exfoliating power? Bamboo stem powder. It’s rich in nutrients and the bamboo beads are tiny enough to safely exfoliate the delicate facial skin. I’ve been using the homemade facial scrub for a while now and love how my skin looks and feels.

Homemade face scrub for sensitive skin

What are the benefits of face scrubs?

A faces scrub exfoliates dead skin from the face, brightens dull skin and gives you a glowing, more even complexion. They are helpful to reduce the potential for clogged pores and acne breakouts and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Facial scrubs furthermore improve the absorption of other skincare products like toners or serums, making the rest of your skin care to work more effectively. I also love them take off sticky sunscreen and stubborn makeup.

Of course, it’s important to note that while face scrubs may improve certain skin conditions, they can’t magically remove all acne, blackheads, or wrinkles.

Are sugar scrubs good for the face?

Is homemade sugar scrub good for your face? Short answer: no. And here is why:

While sugar scrubs are amazing to exfoliate the body, they aren’t ideal for the face. Facial skin is thinner and more sensitive than body skin. Learn more here and here.

Sugar granules are relatively coarse and too abrasive for the delicate facial skin. This can potentially lead to irritation, dryness, redness, scratches, and microtears, making the skin worse. Check these articles for more info: 1, 2.

You also should avoid other harsh exfoliants like salt, ground nutshells, fruits pits, and minerals like volcanic rock or pumice.

Sugar scrub also often contain oils, which is perfectly fine to moisturize the body. But the face produces more oil and sebum compared to the rest of the body. Slathering on extra oils to the face can lead to congestion and clogged pores, which is the reason I created an oil-free face scrub.

Simple smoothing facial scrub
You can see the tiny, tiny bamboo beads in this close up of the face scrub.

Alternatives for sugar: Gentle exfoliants for the face

Now let’s look at some alternatives for sugar that are safe to exfoliate the face:

  • Chemical exfoliants: Chemical skin exfoliants fall into 3 groups, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA, e.g. lactic acid), beta hydroxy acids (BHA, e.g. salicylic acid), and certain enzymes. “They work [by ungluing] the bonds of the trapped dead skin, allowing it to slough off without you feeling it.” (source)
  • Mechanical exfoliators: This group includes jojoba beads, silica, bamboo powder, ground rice bran, oatmeal, and polylactic acid beads. They work by physically polishing off the topmost layer of skin cells. 

Be sure to check out Irena’s exfoliating cleansing balm and oleo gel, which both contain jojoba beads and are excellent face polishes.

Skincare benefits of bamboo powder

Skincare benefits of bamboo powder

Why a bamboo face scrub?

My goal was to create a simple homemade face scrub that everyone can use and so I decided to make a water-based scrub formula over an oil-based one as oils can clog pores.

My first choice would have been jojoba beads, but they dissolve in water hence not suitable.

Enter bamboo stem powder, which is also referred is bamboo exfoliant, bamboo powder, bamboo extract, or bamboo beads.

What is bamboo stem powder?

The white powder originates from India and is derived from solidified silica from bamboo stems, which is milled into a fine powder. The product isn’t made from actual bamboo stems rather than the stems’ silica-rich sap, called Tabasheer.

Bamboo stem powder in a bowl

Benefits of a DIY bamboo scrub

A bamboo face scrub brings a host a host of skincare benefits. For one, the tiny particle size (200 micrometers according to Making Cosmetics) is safe and gentle enough to exfoliate the face. Looking on the photos, you can barely see the grains – and that’s a good thing!

The bamboo beads refine and smooth the skin texture, free pores, and remove dead skin cells, leaving the skin soft and radiant. Bamboo’s skin-soothing qualities minimizes the risk of irritation and may even promote skin healing.

But what really makes bamboo stem powder and great skincare ingredient is its high content of antioxidants and silica.

To quote an article from Skincity: “Silica is a natural nutrient that everyone is born with and makes up a huge part of our collagen stores within the body, but the levels of silica gradually decrease with age, which contributes to a reduction in skin’s overall elasticity and ability to heal wounds effectively.”

Using bamboo powder can potentially help to replenish collagen and improve skin elasticity.

Where to buy bamboo stem powder

Bamboo powder can be bought from these shops (I’ll update this list if I find more suppliers):

You’ll find different products labeled “bamboo powder” on the market and not all will work in this gentle DIY face scrub recipe. So be sure to check that the INCI name is bambusa arundinacea stem extract.

Homemade face scrub ingredients

We already talked about bamboo powder. Now let’s look at the other face scrub ingredients:

  • Bamboo stem powder
  • Distilled water is needed to form the gel. You can also use aloe vera gel if preferred.
  • CMC powder (cellulose gum, Tylose) is a natural thickener made from cellulose. It gives the easy DIY face scrub a viscous gel texture and holds the bamboo beads in suspension. You can find my tips on working with CMC in the DIY box below.
  • Lactic acid provides additional exfoliation (functioning as AHA), adjusts the scrub’s pH, and ensures that the preservative works effectively.
  • Preservative protects this water-based facial scrub form mold and bacteria and is essential for a homemade face scrub that can be stored. You can learn more about the preservative I chose, Dermosoft ECO 1388, in the DIY box at the end of this article.

The ingredient amounts are on the DIY card below.

DIY exfoliating scrub for face
The gel texture of this face scrub is incredibly hydrating.

Optional ingredients

Since scrubs are a wash-off product, I kept my facial scrub simple and used only the 5 materials above. Of course, you can customize and enhance this DIY exfoliating face scrub to suit your skincare needs. Consider the following suggestions:

  • dry and/or aging skin: Hydrolyzed baobab protein bears strong moisture binding properties and is rich in amino acids. The ingredient is said to restore skin vitality and have anti-aging qualities. Add up to 1/2 tsp / 3 g / 0.1 oz for a homemade facial scrub foraging skin and dry skin.
  • Sensitive skin: Cucumber extract is hydrating and great to soothe irritation and skin inflammation (source). It’s also a potent antioxidant and provides a plethora of nutrients and minerals to the skin. Add 1/2 tsp / 3 g / 0.1 oz to make a homemade face scrub for sensitive skin.
  • Oily skin: Willow bark extract provides anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties that soothe irritated skin. The extract contains salicylic acid, which can help treat acne (sources 1, 2). Add 1/2 tsp / 3 g / 0.1 oz to create a DIY face scrub for oily skin.
  • All skin types: Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is a wonderful ingredient to achieve a glowing and refreshed complexion. The vitamin helps to strengthen and repair the skin, minimize and tighten enlarged pores, improves an uneven skin tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and dullness (source). Add up to a 1/4 tsp / 1.5 g / 0.05 oz to the exfoliating scrub recipe.
  • All skin types: Meadowsweet extract contains natural salicylic acid, which can clear pores, exfoliate dead cells from the skin’s surface and promote cell turnover and collagen production. Add up to a 1/4 tsp / 1.5 g / 0.05 oz to the face scrub.
DIY bamboo face scrub

Face scrub without preservative

You can freeze this easy scrub recipe if you prefer a preservative-free face scrub. An ice cube mold is perfect to create single-use portions of facial scrub. Follow these storage instructions:

  • Prepare the scrub as instructed below.
  • Portion out the scrub into an ice cube mold and freeze.
  • When you’re ready to use the scrub, take out a cube of frozen scrub and let thaw in a small bowl.
  • The gentle face scrub will last 4-6 months in the freezer.

I recommend this option only for personal use. If you plan on making this gentle homemade face scrub for sale, proper preservation is a must to guarantee it’s safe to use.

How to make DIY face scrub

It’s time to make this DIY exfoliating face scrub! Here are the simple steps:

  1. Mix the liquids. Add the distilled water, lactic acid into a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Mix in the preservative.
  2. Thicken the face scrub. Next, sprinkle the CMC powder onto the water. Mix with a stirrer or spoon to dissolve and break up some of the lumps. The CMC powder will take a while to dissolve. Simply cover the bowl and refrigerate until no more clumps are visible. Mine took around 30 minutes, but it can take longer.
  3. Add bamboo powder. Once the gel looks clear, stir in the bamboo beads. Make sure to mix the face scrub until the bamboo powder is well dispersed.
  4. Store. Transfer the face scrub into an airtight storage container. A cosmetic jar, clip-top jar, or small mason jar are good options.
Homemade face scrub for glowing skin

How to use face scrub

How do I use face scrub to exfoliate my face? To make the most of your DIY homemade face scrub, you need to use it correctly. Here’s what you do:

  • Use the scrub after cleansing on damp skin.
  • Put a hazelnut-sized amount of face scrub into the palm of your hand. Use a spoon or cosmetic spatula to take out scrub from the container.
  • For an even application, rub both hands together to spread out the scrub.
  • Apply the scrub to your face and gently massage in circular motions. Try not to press hard on your skin.
  • You can also treat your neck and décolleté but avoid the eye and mouth areas.
  • Rinse off with plenty of lukewarm water and be sure to remove all scrub.
  • Gently pat your face dry with a soft, clean towel but try not to rub your skin as this can lead to irritation.
  • Once your face is dry, follow up with a toner, serum, and moisturizer.

How often can I use face scrub?

Oily, normal or combination skin types can use this homemade face scrub twice per week. If you have sensitive or dry skin, limit using the scrub to once a week as over-scrubbing may irritate the skin.

Gentle face scrub recipe for sensitive skin

Who can use this DIY exfoliating face scrub?

As I mentioned earlier, this homemade face scrub for glowing skin is suitable for all skin types. The tiny bamboo granules are incredibly gentle, even for sensitive skin.  The hydrating and oil-free formulation is ideal for oily and dry skin alike. Mature skin will profit from the nourishing nutrients and silica in bamboo.

Storage and shelf life

Store the DIY exfoliating face scrub in a cool, dry place, away from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight. A cupboard is a good place. Keep the storage container or jar tightly closed when the scrub is not in use.

How long can I store this facial scrub? The scrub recipe can be kept for up to 3 months. Discard the scrub if you notice a change in smell or texture.

Yield: 1/2 cup / 140 g / 5 oz

Exfoliating Face Scrub Recipe + Instructions

The best face scrub for glowing skin

See how to make a natural DIY exfoliating face scrub! This homemade facial scrub gently buffs the skin and is free of harsh exfoliants like sugar or salt. The easy face scrub recipe is suitable for all skin type

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Difficulty easy

Materials

Tools

  • digital scale or measuring cups + spoons
  • small glass mixing bowl
  • glass stirrer or spoon
  • flip-to jar or cosmetic jar

Instructions

  1. Mix the liquids. Add the distilled water, lactic acid into a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Mix in the preservative.
  2. Thicken the face scrub. Next, sprinkle the CMC powder onto the water. Mix with a stirrer or spoon to dissolve and break up some of the lumps. The CMC powder will take a while to dissolve. Simply cover the bowl and refrigerate until no more clumps are visible. Mine took around 30 minutes, but it can take longer.
  3. Add bamboo powder. Once the gel looks clear, stir in the bamboo beads. Make sure to mix the face scrub until the bamboo powder is well dispersed.
  4. Store. Transfer the face scrub into an airtight storage container. A cosmetic jar, clip-top jar, or small mason jar are good options.

Notes

Working with CMC powder (cellulose gum)

As a student, I made and sold wedding cakes as a side business (tuition fees are expensive!). During this time, I also created thousands of sugar flowers with a paste made of powdered sugar, egg whites and CMC powder.

I recently found some CMC that was still good to use and thought why not use it for cosmetics. It works beautifully!

Cellulose gum has excellent thickening qualities and is quite easy to work with. It's also cheaper, and more readily available than other gums (e.g. sclerotium gum or konjac powder). The skin feel is slightly sticky but not smeary like xanthan gum.

CMC powder creates a crystal-clear gel and is perfect for suspending the bamboo beads in the gel.

About Dermosoft ECO 1388

Dermosoft ECO 1388 (Blend 1388 eco) is an Ecocert/COSMOS-approved preservative of plant-derived organic acids with broad antimicrobial activity. The water-soluble preservative is made with water, glycerin, sodium levulinate (from corn), and sodium anisate (from fennel seeds).

I chose Dermosoft ECO 1388 because this preservative introduces additional skincare benefits to the bamboo face scrub. It's also a lot gentler than other preservatives. Here is what you need to know:

  • Sodium levulinate is a wonderful skin conditioning agent and inhibits microorganisms on the skin.
  • Sodium anisate helps to soothe irritation and balances the skin's pH level.

Since this serum is water-based, using a preservative isn't optional. Skincare products with water are prone to microbial contamination and mold.

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Printable Face Scrub Label

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