As much as I begrudge the obnoxious nature of a New Year's Eve “Best Night Of Your Life” evening, I do find myself scouring some “best of” lists--music, movies, headlines, and now beauty products--reflecting on what the past year has crammed into our lives. I haven’t seen most of the movies, and I’m generally the last to know who’s buzzy in the music scene, so I tend to hone in on beauty products because beauty products are directly relevant to my beauty, you know?
What popped up on a more than a couple lists as a top superlative in the skincare department was Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish. Rich and famous elegant women were all, “This is the ONLY scrub that makes me feel as elegantly rich and famous as Sable just said” and other sound bits that suspiciously seem to come from some commissioned endorsement.
I automatically assume celebrities get a ton of free beauty products for this very purpose, so I can’t necessarily call foul because if I were to be sent loads of free beauty products and it was an occupational hazard to have to look paparazzi-prepped at all times, I think I’d just find what works best for me (prescribed to me by a super fancy derm/aesthetician, natch) and stick to it.
After peeping the $58 price tag on this ticket to Glow-town, I let out a cackle not unlike Edna Krabappel. I mean, really Fresh? Honestly now. She is a cruel and fickle mistress, the beauty industry. It’s like standing sideline to a high stakes poker game I’m too broke to ante up into. I want to PLAY! I want radiant and glowy rich-lady skin, too!
Before I further pouted into the cold, sterile gaze of my browser window, I looked at the ingredients list of Fresh's Sugar Face Polish, which appeared to be not terribly unattainable. Then I got to work, all mad scientist-y in the slop sink Home Depot refers to as “classic colonial.”
Sephora says the main “active” ingredients this product boasts are:
• Real Brown Sugar Crystals: Act as natural humectants gently polishing the complexion by dissolving dead skin cells.
• Crushed Wild Strawberries: Deliver antioxidant-rich vitamin C to protect and heal skin.
• Nourishing blend of Meadowfoam Seed Plum Mango
• Macadamia Oils: Intensely conditions and moisturizes the skin.
• Natural Citrus Oils of Italian Lemon Bergamot Grapefruit and Orange: Tone the skin while leaving behind an invigorating aroma.
Brown sugar, I already have, as well as some citrusy essential oils. I had to buy my strawberries at the grocery store because I live in NYC and buying local and organic is about as “wild” as it gets around here. I mean, I’m pretty sure the berries I got came from the Earth, so no harm no foul, right?
I am very particular about my facial oils, since I experimented with a handful of different oils when I was concocting my own OCM formula that would be most beneficial for my skin. There were many trials and many errors, all at the expense of my poor visage. I tend to stick to lighter oils--not too heavy in the saturated fats department. The detailed science-y ingredient list included grapeseed oil, which I’m down with, so I made sure to include that in mine.
I stuck to the meat and potatoes with my own remake:
• 2 tbsp brown sugar
• 2-3 pureed strawberries
• 1 tsp grapeseed oil
• 1 tsp jojoba oil
• 1 tsp sweet almond oil
• 1 tsp vegetable glycerin
• a few drops of sweet orange essential oil
• a few drops of bergamot essential oil
Veggie glycerin is a natural humectant, so it’s a total workhorse for moisturizing purposes. Other than making your skin feel soft and supple, it also works for your skin by encouraging skin’s maturation process, basically signaling cell turnover so your skin can cycle through any visible skin woes like psoriasis, eczema, or light scarring. Bonus is that it’s relatively cheap and you can find it at most health-type stores.
Word on the street is that vegetable glycerin makes for a great natural moisturizer for the acne-stricken, since it’s anti-inflammatory, hypoallergenic and has antibacterial properties. So there’s that.
Firstly, wash them berries. I know that if you buy organic that supposedly means it’s pesticide-free, but I just don’t trust it. Also, I’m prejudiced against people who open every carton to smell/fondle fruit. I don’t want any germs from fruit-fondling weirdos.
I mixed everything together in a bowl except for the brown sugar. I added the brown sugar last because it tends to melt when in contact with liquids, so I wanted to preserve its scrubby power to the max.
Since I wanted to do a side-by-side scrub test, and couldn’t very well use both Fresh’s and my homemade scrub in one night, one after the other, because the control (uh, meaning the flaky pre-scrubbed state of my skin) would be compromised, so I roped my never-been-exfoliated roommate into testing the potency of the scrub I made, and I would try Fresh’s scrub.
Don’t worry, I did the fancy department store version of trial-testing skincare products--on the back of your hand--with my scrub (and a week later, on my face). Since it’s winter the backs of my hands are cracked and gnarly pretty much all the time, so it’s kind of the perfect place to test a product’s softening/flake-removing capabilities. It was a demonstrative success. The back of my hand never felt so damn smooth and un-gnarled. Also the oils left behind a silky ooh-la-la feeling.
I knocked on roommate’s door, interrupting his playing guitar, as boys are wont to do. “Hey, can I borrow you for a minute?” I asked, bowl of mystery goop in hand.
“I wanna put this on your face!” I offered, menacingly.
“What… is that?”
He begrudgingly agreed, after I let him drink the leftover pureed strawberry. Boys.
Dude got a nice facial massage out of it even though he scrunched up his face throughout, possibly in resigned enjoyment. He endured my vigorous scrubbing (read: pampering) and hot-towel-offing to reveal: SUPREMELY SOFT DUDE FACE.
I, on the other hand, promptly gave Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish a go and I will say that there are a few heavy-handed deviations between the two scrubs, number one being consistency. Fresh’s formula, of course, has the perfect scrub texture: thick enough to hold itself together in a clump with everything evenly spread throughout.
With the warmth of your skin, it melts slightly to spread quite nicely on your face for easy scrubbin’. Sometimes with coarse exfoliators, I’ve noticed that I can feel a kind of “drag” with the bits in it that can be a little ouchy. Not so, with this one.
It also smells heavenly, all citrusy sweet. As it was caked on my face, presumably seeping in all $58 dollars worth of skin-beautifying goodness, I found myself mysteriously nostalgic for my summer days camping in the woods… and then I realized that this stuff does have a faintly citronella pungency. Those with sensitive noses may object.
I let it sit on my face for the allotted 5-10 minutes, then soaked a hand towel in hot water, wrung it out, and pressed it on my face until it cooled slightly and then toweled-off the scrub. Let me tell you—nothing makes you feel all Noxema commercial like a nice hot towel treatment. My pores just about heaved a sigh of relief.
Yes, my face felt smooth and soft afterwards. Yes, it was easy to apply and less messy than my version. However, for a lot less than $58, making your own sugar face scrub, while more labor intensive and slightly cruder in texture, does do the trick. Plus, I got to customize my own oils, which really satisfies my OCD with my beauty routine.
Since I had raw fruit in mine, sadly it will not keep for very long sans preservatives. I’m betting two to three days max if you put it in the fridge, but even that might be a stretch. I liken it to the same rules of juicing: pureed fruit tends to lose its nutritional powers quite quickly when broken down into such itty-bitty bits. For the future, this is certainly a made-to-order number.
Now that our respective faces were thoroughly sloughed, roommate and I gorged on the remaining strawberries, dusted with a bit of brown sugar.
“Is this going to make me break out?” he tentatively asked.
“Uhh… no…” I reassured, mouth half-full of berry.