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DIY Tattoo-Brightening Exfoliator Scrub Recipes With Simple Ingredients

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Peony is a tattooed tattoo enthusiast who loves studying and discussing tattoo history and meanings. Japanese themes are her favorite.

Using a DIY tattoo brightener and tattoo scrub keeps your colors bold by taking care of your ink.

Using a DIY tattoo brightener and tattoo scrub keeps your colors bold by taking care of your ink.

DIY Tattoo Scrub and Exfoliation

Keep your tattoos looking fresh and vibrant with DIY tattoo scrubs. You don’t need to shell out excess cash for exfoliators made “exclusively for tattoos.” Here are some simple recipes using ingredients right in your kitchen pantry.

Exfoliation is one of the ways we can keep our tattoos looking fresh and new by sloughing off the dead, outer layers of our skin that accumulate and clog pores. Proper exfoliation will not only brighten a dull tattoo, but also improve your overall skin condition and help your skincare products (such as moisturizers) penetrate better and work more efficiently.

From my time in the beauty industry, experience tells me that the best skincare routines are those with a short ingredient list (kind of like reading the label of whole-foods versus those loaded with additives and preservatives) and with items whose names you can actually pronounce. I have made my scrubs easy to portion and with less than three ingredients required!

DIY Tattoo Scrub Recipes

I have chosen to post these particular recipes because they are tried and test, simple to make and do not require any fancy cosmetic ingredients.

Simple Sugar Scrub Recipe

Some people might use salt (we have a recipe below for that) to replace sugar and that’s perfectly fine, too. However, sugar is a smooth particle (microscopically) as opposed to salt, which has sharp and jagged edges. Due to this, sugar scrubs can be used twice a week, while the more abrasive salt scrubs should only be used once in the same week.


Granulated Sugar : Olive/Coconut oil*


DIY Coffee Scrub to brighten tattoos!

DIY Coffee Scrub to brighten tattoos!

Tattoo Invigorating Coffee Scrub Recipe

Coffee lovers, I got you. This not only repurposes the used coffee grounds you might otherwise throw out, but it also smells amazing and feels revitalizing.

The caffeine found in coffee grounds is a natural stimulant that also improves blood flow and may temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite.


Coffee Grounds : Brown Sugar : Coconut Oil*

2 : 1 : 1

Detoxifying Himalayan Pink Salt Tattoo Scrub

Himalayan pink salt is believed to be an excellent anti-inflammation and detoxification ingredient due to the trace minerals contained (though studies have not shown it to be more effective than other dietary salts). However, salt scrubs are generally more aggressive due to their abrasive structure and should only be used once a week at most.

Note: Coconut oil may not be suitable for all skin types as it is a very rich and moisturizing oil. If you have dry skin, this will be a luxurious god-sent. However, if you are more to the acneic or oily skin spectrum, it could cause clogged pores. Y


Fine Himalayan Pink Salt : Coconut Oil



Nourishing Oatmeal Honey Tattoo Scrub

Clinical studies have shown that oats are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Not only do they help comfort any irritation, tightness or itch, but they are skin-protective as well. Studies have also shown that people suffering from eczema improved their condition by regularly soaking in colloidal oatmeal bath.

* Oats are not recommended if you have Celiac Disease, unless you are using gluten-free oats—most “normal” oats contain gluten.


Finely ground oats : Honey

2 : 1

Directions for Mixing Scrub Ingredients

  1. Clean and dry your airtight container (I use airtight storage containers because of how versatile it is for storing food and organizing the pantry/kitchen when I am done with the scrubs) or use a new ziplock bag.
  2. Mix all the ingredients as stipulated in the recipe chosen and store them in your container or bag of choice.
  3. That’s basically it!

I explain how to properly exfoliate with these scrubs without damaging your skin further down in this article.

How Long Do These DIY Scrubs Keep?

If kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment, away from direct sunlight, these keep for around one month (or more). But make sure that they are away from humidity or moisture and to avoid having water go in the scrub. Using a spoon or scoop is ideal; it will minimize any chance of water dripping in from wet hands.

TIP: To extend the shelf life of your scrubs, you can prick a vitamin E oil capsule and empty that into your scrub, mixing thoroughly. Vitamin E oil is a natural preservative that is found in many skincare products due to its anti-oxidizing properties.


Is It Damaging to Exfoliate Sensitive or Acne-prone Skin?

It’s a misguided skincare myth that sensitive or acne-prone skin should never be exfoliated. Exfoliation is beneficial in so many ways, but should always be done in a method that best suit your particular skin type.

It only becomes a problem when you exfoliate abrasively or too frequently. I wouldn’t even suggest that for normal skin types, however tolerant they may be.

Sensitive and acne-prone skin should opt for exfoliation methods that are gentle, and at minimal frequency in order to protect reactive and fragile skin. One of them is the oatmeal scrub listed below; it's not only an effective scrub but it's also moisture retaining. When skin is healthy and hydrated, it functions like a well-oiled machine.

How to Properly Exfoliate Tattooed Skin

  1. Make sure that your tattoo is completely healed. (It will take one month or longer, depending on how well you heal.) Do not scrub on fresh tattoos, that’s akin to rubbing salt on an open wound.
  2. In the shower and on damp skin, grab an amount that is appropriate for your tattoo size and gently rub in circular motions. Do not use force and do not scrub frantically. Easy does it.
  3. You might feel that the sugar is getting smaller, you might not even feel it anymore. That’s perfectly fine as the sugar will dissolve with body heat.
  4. Rinse off well to get rid of any remaining sugar and residue.
  5. Dry off by dabbing your skin (do not rub). At this point—if your skin type is dry or if it is winter and you could benefit from an added layer of emollient—you can choose to moisturize with a non-comedogenic (ie. formulated to not clog pores) moisturizer.

What Tattoo Exfoliating Scrubs to Avoid

Most over-the-counter exfoliants or scrubs will work on healed tattooed skin. However, those with spherical micro-beads are notorious for being environmental pollutants when it leaves our drainage system. They are washed out into large bodies of water by the billions every single day.

If you think that once it leaves you it’s not your problem, then think again. These micro-beads absorb toxins (e.g. pesticide) like sponge to water, they then get ingested by marine life causing a chain reaction that could possibly end up coming back to you, on your dinner plate.

Because of that, they have even been banned in several countries because authorities are finding it to be so destructive to the ecosystem and the world's water resource in general.

A single micro-bead can be up to a million times more toxic than the water around it!

So the best tattoo scrub would be one that you can easily make yourself—you know exactly what you put in it.

Avoid products with microbeads at all costs. A single shower can flush as many as 100,000 plastic microbeads into nature.

Avoid products with microbeads at all costs. A single shower can flush as many as 100,000 plastic microbeads into nature.

If you'd like to read more about how to keep your tattoos looking bright and new, read my other article: How to Keep Your Tattoos Looking Fresh and Prevent Fading.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Peony