5 Winter Body Scrub Recipes Without Peppermint

Since skin irritation can heighten in the winter, this is a great time to put some thought into making your own winter body scrub without peppermint. Did you know that peppermint can be irritating on the skin? Numerous studies, including this article from the US National Journal of Medicine, have shown peppermint can cause contact dermatitus. According to sources at Future Derm, the chemical penetration enhancers in peppermint essential oil can reduce the skin barrier function making it irritating upon contact and the alcohol content can have a drying effect on the skin.

Allow me to further explain/geek out on the chemical composition of peppermint: anyone whose had a peppermint in their mouth is familiar with the cooling sensation that lingers after the candy has dissolved. That's because it contains the natural compound, menthol, that has a profound effect on our nervous system which is built to sense those changes in temperatures. For example, a candy cane at room temperature will cause a cooling sensation in your mouth because the menthol tricks the brain into thinking it's cold. The nervous system's reaction to menthol is one of the reasons peppermint is an effective pain reliever: it takes the heat away, reduces inflammation, and stimulates the blood flow.

These cooling chemicals can be pleasing to the skin and fortunately they can be found in other oils like eucalyptus and spearmint. What's more, there are also warming ingredients that have the same festive aroma and plenty of skin benefits for a scrub.

If you're looking for ways to get your festive scrub on, perhaps leave the peppermint to your lattes and check out some of these winter-perfect recipes below.

1. Masala Chai Body Scrub

For this scrub you'll need the following:

  • 4 oz Raw Sugar (Fine or medium)
  • 2 tablespoons raw, unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic, cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic, whole, clove buds
  • 1/4 organic, nutmeg
  • 10 drops vanilla essential oil

The scent of a steaming chai latte always reminds me of the holidays and it's no wonder: Warming spices like cardamom, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon are prevalent during winter and not just for their aroma — they are all enriched with anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate dry skin conditions that occur during the cold winter months.

Start by adding sugar and oil in a mixing bowl, mix manually and then add spices. Mix to combine the ingredients thoroughly, ensuring clove is broken down for application (alternatively, you can muddle the clove before adding it) and desired consistency is achieved. Transfer to a sealable container and add essential oil.

2. Coffee Cocoa-Mint Scrub

  • 1 1/2 cups fair-trade coffee, unflavored and freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened, raw cocoa powder
  • 3-4 dried organic, mint leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon macadamia oil

Fresh mint can be a gentle alternative to peppermint EO and still bring a familiar minty aroma. What happens when you add a little chocolate and macadamia oil? Well, you've got yourself a holiday candy that can exfoliate dead skin cells while stimulating new ones. I used one cup of ground coffee and placed it in a french press with hot water, as if I was making coffee. The hot water softens the grounds and makes for a smoother application. Strain the water and pour grounds a mixing bowl. Since this method can be a little soupy, I take about 1/2 cup of dried grounds and let it soak up the moisture. Add the rest of the ingredients in the mixing bowl, saving the oil for last.

If your scrub is looking moist already, add less macadamia oil. Transfer to a sealable container and use immediately. If you are gifting your scrub or want to save it for future use, keep it refrigerated.

3. Dead Sea Salt & EVOO Scrub

For this recipe, you'll need the following:

  • 8-10 oz Dead Sea salt
  • 3 oz extra virgin olive oil, unrefined
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 whole bay leaves
  • 15 drops fennel essential oil
  • 10 drops sage essential oil

All the holiday aromas in one place and it's not even dinner time. I love this scrub because it embraces some of my favorite blemish-fighting herbs and the fennel is a great way to liven up a dull complexion. Olive oil has a special place in the holiday season, being known as the eternal flame that fueled Hannukah. This hearty oil is also a great addition to a scrub. You can seriously see the water droplets falling off your body with olive oil, making this scrub a holiday miracle.

Place the salt and bay leaves in a mixing bowl and add olive oil. Mix vigorously to break up and soften the leaves. Add cinnamon and mix gently. Transfer to a sealable container and add essential oils.

4. Pink Oatmeal Ginger Scrub

For this recipe, you'll need the following:

  • 8 oz medium Himalayan pink sea salt
  • 1 tbsp raw oats
  • 1 tbsp powdered, raw oats
  • 3-4 oz ginger infused sunflower oil

This scrub has a great holiday vibe, with frankincense to sooth breakouts and myrrh to give the skin potent antioxidants. Add salt, oil, and oat powder in a mixing oil and mix vigorously. You can substitute the infused oil with sunflower oil and add the dried ginger into the mix or you can make an herbal infusion by filling a mason jar halfway with dried ginger (I use a dehydrator to dry the roots) and then filling the jar with sunflower oil. Mix in the raw oats for aesthetics and extra exfoliation before transferring to a sealable container. Add essential oils and gift your scrub!

5. Candy Cane Body Scrub

For this recipe, you'll need the following:

  • 1 oz glass, sealable container
  • 2 oz medium-coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp hibiscus extract
  • 1 oz preferred vegetable oil
  • 5 drops spearmint essential oil

There is nothing cuter than making a body scrub that looks like a candy cane and this recipe contains only purposeful ingredients instead of artificial colors or even peppermint! Place half the salt in a bowl and add a teaspoon of your preferred oil, then in a separate bowl add the salt and apply the extract carefully in the bowl (less is more in this instance, because you don't want the sea salt to dissolve by adding too much oil, however, it's an easy fix by adding more salt). Build your scrub in a clear glass, sealable container. Add one layer of the oiled salt and gently pat down with clean fingers. Then add a thin layer of the red salt to the container. Repeat until container is filled. Add a few drops of spearmint essential oil and seal tightly. When using or gifting your scrub, make sure to fully enjoy the candy cane look before you use it — you'll definitely want to mix it up before applying on your skin to get all the delicious benefits.

Peppermint essential oil provides support to our digestive and nervous system — it's chemical constituents doesn't mean it will always irritate someone's skin. In fact, the stimulating, anti-inflammatory properties are great for bath bombs, healing salves, and heavy butters to relieve pain. Know how to properly dilute your peppermint, so you can keep the benefits and ditch the side effects.

Image: Michelle, anphotos99/Fotolia; Kristin Collins Jackson (11)