bodyshop.jpg So, Today’s junk mail nugget comes in the form of 3-for-$20 body scrubs at The Body Shop, which got me thinking about homeopathic beauty remedies vs. the shiny packaged goods staring tantalizingly back through the brightly-lit chain beauty store window. Now, I could let this devolve into a treatise about consumerism, the pervasiveness of mall-culture and what it means for smaller retailers, the creeping death of the creative underclass but, uh, I’m not gonna. Let’s keep it light, shall we?


So, you don’t need me to tell you that a homemade scrub works just as well as a pre-packaged store-bought scrub. Seriously, they are mostly equal in terms of use. Say what you will about the harmful addition of unnatural ingredients or preservatives, but really, retail scrubs still get my ass as smooth as Nicole Kidman’s forehead, so I don’t really care one way or another. The real friction between hippie homemade and store-bought is that of monetary value and also of pleasure: Which is the real value and which is just plain more enjoyable to use? Anybody who knows anything about the Beauty Industrial Complex knows that what cosmetics companies are selling is 20% function, and 80% experience. Product junkies want to feel pampered as much as they want to slough off dead skin, so which does a better job of delivering enjoyment AND allows the customer to pamper without worry of breaking the bank?

Pros & Cons: 3-for-$20 Mini Scrubs from The Body Shop

Pros: These little babies come in seven flavors and in lovely, bright-colored packaging. Also, at 2oz a pop, they’re portable and won’t clog up your bathroom cupboards. Ease-of-use factor is high, as is the time-saving factor, seeing as how you won’t be mixing the ingredients yourself, and the shelf life is long given the inevitable added preservatives.

Cons: The 2oz of product will ultimately not last long. I mean, really, how big is your ass? Cuz, uh, I’ve got a good bit of ground to cover, and 2oz will only last if I use the product sparingly-to-the-point-of-ineffective. But I guess that’s why they’re selling a threebie. Another set-back is that there’s no way to control what goes into these. Also, all of the added perfumes and dyes are no good for those of us with hella allergies. Also, preservatives and chemical additives are yuck.

And now, for the flip-side:

Pros & Cons: Homeopathic Sugar & Salt Scrubs:

Pros: Making shit is fun. It’s like all of those science fair experiments you did in school and won blue ribbons for, despite how utterly crappy they were, and the fact that your mom did, like, 80% of the work. Homemade scrubs also make better gifts than Mall scrubs, lending that extra-thoughtful crafty cred to what could be a rather boring gift. The beauty of the homemade scrub, is also the versatility. You can add or subtract ingredients at your will, and get creative with scents, colors, and textures. It also bears mentioning that the ingredients for DIY scrubs can be as processed or as un-processed as you want, so if that’s your thing, it’s taken care of. But here’s the basic how-to:

Salt Scrub: 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt, 2 tablespoons epsom salt, 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil, 1 tablespoon camelia oil, 1 tablespoon calendula oil, a few drops jasmine oil, or any desired scented oil. Mix in a damn bowl. Yield: about 4 oz.

Sugar Scrub: 3/4 cup coarse cane sugar, 5 tablespoons vegetable glycerin, 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt, 5 teaspoons camelia oil, 5 teaspoons rosehip seed oil, 5 teaspoons honey, a few drops of desired essential oil for fragrance. Combine ingredients, apply to bum-region. That’s all there is to it. Yield: about 8oz.Pro #2: Economical. Really, really, really cost-effective and it’s pretty obvious how much more you get for the money, but, in the spirit of being thorough, I’ll spell it out: Vegetable glycerin: 16 oz for $6.95; Camelia oil: About 20oz for $15.95; Sweet Almond oil: 16oz for $6.95; Rosehip seed oil: 4oz for $12; Sea salt: 1lb for $6.95; Epsom salt: 64oz for $2.99; Honey: 12oz for $3.50; Jasmine oil: 1oz for $6.00; Coarse Turbinado sugar: 1lb for $4.00. Total Cost: $65.29. So, if both recipes together yield 6oz, and the ingredients, all-told, add up to 261oz, you’ll end up with around 40 batches of scrubs at $1.63 each. There’s a lot wrong with my calculations, I’m sure, but I do need to sacrifice some much-needed brain space for pop culture witticisms. Priorities, people.Cons: Though they’re quick and easy to throw together, DIY scrubs are labor-intensive as far as brining all the ingredients together. You can’t just walk into CVS and buy vegetable glycerin. Most of these ingredients can be found on the internet, but likely not one-stop shopping. It gets worse for those of you who are wary of internet shopping — you wise few will have the distinct pleasure of travelling to a health food store. Where the skittish staff are less than helpful, the products lie dented on dust-blanketed shelves in poorly-lit corridors, the smell of rotting veg and old people hangs heavy in the air, and scrawy, grey-hued health food store groupies sip wheatgrass and cast auspicious glances at anyone not wearing cruelty-free Alpaca clothing. Yeah, BIG con there. Besides, storing the sheer volume of ingredients may be a problem for those of us living in storage-oblivious apartments. There are no preservatives in homeopathic scrubs, so each batch should be used before too long.So, what looks like the better option to you? Choose your own adventure in the comments!