By Kathryn Walsh

Want to get brighter, smoother skin? Massaging a scrub made with unpronounceable chemicals all over your body isn't the only way to do it. Making homemade scrubs is easy and cost-effective – and knowing exactly what you're rubbing into your skin is reassuring. Many homemade body scrubs call for oil, but anyone with sensitive or acne-prone skin may want to avoid oil altogether. No problem: make a sugar- or salt-based scrub without it.

Lavender sea salt jar from above
credit: JulyProkopiv/iStock/GettyImages
No-Oil Homemade Scrub

Choosing Base Ingredients

Oil is commonly used in body scrubs because it softens the skin and binds other ingredients together. Shea butter is a good alternative, although it's quite hard and has to be melted in order to work in any exfoliating ingredients. Scoop a spoonful of shea butter into a sealable plastic bag and put it in a bowl of just-boiled water. It should soften and melt within minutes. Whipping shea butter generally requires adding oil, so simply melt it when making an oil-free version.

For anyone trying to avoid using heavy fats on the skin, shea butter may not be any better than oil. Stick to very simple scrubs made with honey or aloe vera gel as a binder.

Making Homemade Lip Scrub

Sugar scrubs are generally gentle enough for any skin type, provided you don't use them too often or scrub too vigorously. A sugar scrub is also ideal for exfoliating dry lips; not only is it gentle, but ingesting a little by accident is actually pleasant. Make a simple lip scrub by pouring a teaspoon of honey into a small bowl. Stir in brown sugar, a pinch at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of thick paste. Rub the scrub into the lips for a few minutes, rinse with water and follow up with moisturizing lip balm.

Making Homemade Sugar Scrub

A scrub made from honey and sugar is fine to use on other parts of the body, but it can get unpleasantly sticky. Make a multipurpose body scrub by mixing one part shea butter with two parts brown or white sugar. Stir in some fresh lavender or another herb to scent the scrub. Alternately, use equal parts aloe vera gel and sugar and add a splash of lemon juice. Massage either scrub into your face or other body parts, rinse with warm water and moisturize.

Making Homemade Salt Scrub

Salt scrubs kill bacteria, so they're perfect for acne-prone skin, but large granules will irritate the skin. Use either very fine salt or run large grains (like kosher or sea salt) through a coffee grinder first. Make a nonsticky scrub that soothes irritated skin by grinding several tablespoons of oats in a coffee grinder. Mix in warm water, a half teaspoon at a time, to create a thick paste. Stir in a tablespoon or so of salt.

Salt can also be substituted for sugar in a scrub made with shea butter, aloe or honey, but avoid those bases when making a scrub for acne-prone skin. An oatmeal scrub is gentle and leaves no residue behind, perfect for clogged pores.