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Photo: Molly Beauchemin

How To Make Your Own California Citrus Scrub

When I was in college I started making my own face wash after reading a litany of scary studies about the damaging effects of parabans, nano-particles, and other toxins used in conventional beauty products.

This was before I discovered the personal care aisle at Whole Foods (which is where I buy all of my beauty products now) and at the time there weren’t many good “natural” face products out there. I started researching natural alternatives to what was available at the drugstore, and I found that more often than not, the botanicals we grow in our gardens are the most effective healing agents for our skin– this is why even mainstream moisturizers are enhanced with Tea Tree Oil, Rose, Lavender, and the like. Research also shows that incorporating homemade face scrubs into a weekly beauty routine benefits all skin types– oily, dry, normal, and combination skin– without product buildup or the chemical exposure that damages overall health in the long run.

One of the best DIY face scrubs I’ve ever formulated was inspired by my first visit to the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco, where– to this day– I consistently find some of the best Oranges and Almond Brittle in the world.

Oranges are naturally astringent and can be used as part of any face wash or mask to lift dead skin cells, remove dirt, and brighten the skin.

Right now (May) is a great time to get Navel, Valencia, and Cara Cara Navel oranges at Farmers Markets in California (and if you don’t live in the Sunshine State, they are finally arriving at supermarkets across the U.S.)

Raw honey is an anti-bacterial skin softener that has long been used in facials and in cleansing products to soothe inflammation and tame acne.

Almonds can be ground into an exfoliating powder that is much gentler on the skin than the scratchy shell pieces found in commercial face scrubs like St. Ives (studies show these abrasive particles make microscopic tears in the skin, which ages it over time and makes it more vulnerable to the bacterial overgrowth that causes acne). The tiny beads used in other face scrubs also often end up in the fatty tissues of fish deep in the ocean, so its best to avoid these products altogether– your skin and the planet will thank you.

California Almonds are harvested in September and October, but are available throughout the year.

If you live in California, it is now possible to source all of these ingredients locally– possibly from your own garden! Whether you are a seasoned herbalist or a curious skin-obsessive, check out GC’s exclusive recipe for “California Citrus Scrub,” below. Any unused scrub can be refrigerated for up to one week.

California Citrus Scrub

  • 5 almonds (or 2 Tbsp Almond Meal)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • Dash of orange zest

To prepare, blend all ingredients in a food processor (or if you’re using the almond meal, simply mix them together) to form a smooth, liquid paste. Massage scrub into wet face in light, upward circles to exfoliate. Rinse clean and pat dry. Follow with moisturizer of your choice (optional).

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