shake the wintertime blues: warming sugar scrub.

December 15, 2014

brown sugar scrub | brook there We’ve still got a few days left before it’s officially winter, but in advance of the season, and in acknowledgement that we’re closing in on the darkest day of the year, here’s a little antidote for dark days. This is the first post in a much-requested series I’m calling shake the wintertime blues, but which might also be called treat yourself. Just in case anyone else out there needs a little lifter-upper in the face of freezing temps and broody skies, I’ll be offering my own best rituals for keeping the spirits up all winter long.

First up? A warming sugar scrub (and some dancing in your underwear).

I’ll be first to admit that I can let myself go a little bit in the wintertime. My legs go unshaven. The state of my armpits sometimes shocks me. It can feel like summer’s hardly gone before I feel prickly and dry and, would miserable be too strong a word? Personal preferences around personal hygiene aside, I think it’s safe to say that all of the layering up and hunkering down that we do in the winter means we can forget a bit about nourishing the skin that felt so fresh and vibrant just a few months ago.

Enter the warming sugar scrub. And the time you give yourself to use it.
brown sugar scrub | brook there

Warming Sugar Scrub

What you need:

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
10 drops cinnamon essential oil
5 drops vanilla extract (yes the kind you bake with)

What you need to do with it:

Melt your coconut oil if it’s hardened at room temp (you can do this in a double boiler, or do what I did and put the jar on top of the steam radiator for 10 minutes or until liquid).

In a small bowl, mix sugar, coconut oil, essential oil and vanilla extract. Transfer the mixture to a small, sterile jar (which would last for months if it weren’t guaranteed to be used up before that).
brown sugar scrub | brook there While it might sound like I just gave you the start to a christmas cookie dough recipe, belive me when I say that this scrub won’t make you smell like a sugar cookie. It’ll make you smell so much better than a sugar cookie. Warming, spicy, and—yes, I’m going there—sexy. The combination of cinnamon and vanilla in this scrub is less baked good and more hot mama. In a word: it’s amazing.
brown sugar scrub | brook there I like to use a small glass weck jar to store mine, but you can use anything old or new. (If you’re afraid of the glass breaking in the shower, you could reuse a small plastic jar with a lid, or do what I do, and let it rest on the bathroom sink.) brown sugar scrub | brook there For me, getting through winter is all about creating tiny rituals of self care like this one. So, forgive me being pushy, but this is what I think you should do next. Light a candle. Turn off the bathroom light. Make the shower just a little steamier than usual. Open a cold beer (or ginger beer, if that’s more your speed). When you’ve got all that in place, hop in the shower and scoop a small handful of scrub into the palm of our hand, and massage it into your skin. Rub it over your shoulders, down your rib cage, into your belly. Reach what you can of your back. Scrub at your neck and in circular motions on your chest. It’s a literal sloughing off of the old, dead skin, to reveal something bright and fresh and renewed underneath. And it should feel refreshing in the best way. When you have scrubbed every last inch, climb out of the shower. Wrap yourself in your towel and drink up the last of the steam (and beer). Now slip on your underwear, turn on a favorite tune, and have yourself a little dance before needing to get all buttoned up again. It’s basically guaranteed to make you feel better. brown sugar scrub | brook there And if you want to share your newfound ritual with someone else (and you will), I think that a little jar of the scrub plus a pair or two of special underwear might just make the perfect present for a sister, mother, friend, on your list. (Sisters, pay no attention to this post.)
brown sugar scrub | brook thereThis post was sponsored by Brook There, a sustainable lingerie company based in Portland, Maine. Made with organic cotton, super soft bamboo rayon, and silk, their simple and beautiful designs are all designed, cut, and sewn in the United States. This post featured the black organic cotton bra and underwear set and black striped set, which I can personally vouch for being precisely the brand of comfortable and sexy that I love best. I hope you give them a try.

Thank you so much for supporting the inspiring, creative brands that keep Reading My Tea Leaves afloat.

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  • Reply Anonymous December 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Sounds wonderful! Can't wait for more tips in this series.

  • Reply Sarah December 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    This sounds great! Definitely going to be making some of this next weekend.

  • Reply Hannah S December 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    The underwear looks super comfortable yet sexy!
    I love the idea of homemade scrub. I didnt realize it could be made that easily. Any recommendations if we dont have cinnamon essential oil? I dont want to buy a whole bottle since I dont know what other use I would have of that oil.

    • Reply Erin December 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Hannah, You can probably swap anything that you do have! To keep the warming element of the scrub, I might swap in ginger!

    • Reply Hannah S December 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Ginger sounds like a great idea and I have it around. Thanks!

    • Reply Jenn Wisbeck December 28, 2014 at 2:28 am

      You can buy "sample size" bottles of essential oils on ebay and etsy pretty cheap. I just ordered a small bottle of cinnamon oil for ~ $1- enough to make a couple containers of sugar scrub or a really big container of epsom salt bath soak.

  • Reply Joy December 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Erin, just wanted to say thank you for the newsletter sign up reminder last week. Reading it yesterday was one of the highlights of my weekend. I love that it shows up like a personal email under your name. It made me feel like I was getting a message from a friend.
    And I feel like we are friends in many ways. My daughter was born just a few weeks before yours, and I've loved reading about your journey with Faye. And although I'm dying to hear more details about your experience with her, I realized that it's been sort of nice to just hear about the dreamy parts. I don't think you're masking the challenges of motherhood, just highlighting some of the best parts and sweetest moments. It's so important to embrace those to keep it all in perspective. And I think you do a nice job of avoiding hot buttons by keeping the details minimal.
    Thank you for bringing a little peace and magic into my life everyday.

    • Reply Erin December 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Joy! So glad to know that you've been reading! Lots of love to you and your little one!

  • Reply Devan December 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm


  • Reply Vanessa December 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    A shower beer, candles and cinnamon scrub! This is why I love your blog – you're my kind of people.

  • Reply jiturka December 15, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Hm, good inspiration! Maybe I'd add ground cinnamon instead of the essential oil (which I don't have). Totally a nice idea for a lovely gift. And for myself as well 🙂

    • Reply Erin December 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Will probably be a little less potent that way, but should work! Enjoy!

    • Reply jiturka December 18, 2014 at 8:15 am

      I will take that into account. Maybe add a bit of honey to make it better.

  • Reply We Dress Alright December 15, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    This sounds wonderful! SImple to make and definitely needed!!! I live in Florida and here we even let ourselves go even though we aren't bundled! I am definitely going to try this this weekend and I cannot wait to make this scrub and relax!!!

  • Reply tornyiildiko December 16, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Thanks a lot!

    This article for me (also stuck in winter's general hardships and plus in a difficult personal challenge / task…etc: better words for problem) is almost like the voice of an angel spreading de-LIGHT-ful(l) love-of-life thoughts in little but very powerful drops of golden words (materializing in golden bits of a stuff too). And not just the acute lack of different kinds of light is a reality, but the sweet part is one as well: it's always here too, even if we need to be reminded of it.

    I couldn't have said this better than Joy, so I'm quoting her:
    "I don't think you're masking the challenges (…) just highlighting some of the best parts and sweetest moments. It's so important to embrace those to keep it all in perspective. (…) Thank you for bringing a little peace and magic into my life everyday."

  • Reply Rona Mitchell December 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I made up a double-batch of this last night, using cinnamon leaf oil (couldn't find any other kind!). It was so easy and the product is totally awesome. I have stored mine in a set of individual popsicle molds that I was getting ready to get rid of– they look totally adorable and I'm looking forward to gifting all but 1 of them to friends (and scrub-a-dub myself) 🙂

  • Reply Christa January 13, 2015 at 2:50 am

    I'm devoting February to some self-care and this is definitely on my to-do list. I've already bought the cinnamon oil!

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