So far I’ve written two Island Remede posts, the first on aloe, the second on coconut oil. And the last time I wrote one, my brother Dominic contacted me to say um, you spelled “remedy” wrong. So I’d like to take this opportunity to explain that no, it was intentionally spelled like that, as it was said by old time Trinidadians who spoke French creole. My grandmother did, and my mother still says little phrases too, like “remede.” And if you don’t know, now ya know!

In the Caribbean, the hottest new beauty products often don’t arrive on shelves until months and sometimes years after they’ve made the rounds of North America and Europe. So you’ll find that women there tend to take a creative approach to beautifying treatments. The raw pith of the aloe plant does wonders for the skin and hair, as does coconut oil. And you can add good old fashioned brown sugar to the list of ingredients every bella should have in stock. Brown sugar is the bomb for so many reasons.

One of the most popular beauty dilemmas I get Ask Afrobella questions about, is dry scalp. An itchy, flaking scalp can be attributed to several things — climate change, inadequate hair products, or just plain ol’ dandruff (which is caused by an overgrowth of a common fungus, and can be attributed to increased oil production, stress, or hormonal changes). It took me quite a bit of trial and error to diagnose my scalp issues, and to find a solution that finally worked. And I gotta admit, all the Selsun Blue, Head and Shoulders, and Neutrogena T-Gel didn’t help me half as much as good ol’ brown sugar did. I gotta thank Lorraine Massey for this bit of advice, it’s been a life changer!

In case you don’t already own a copy of Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl, you should definitely check it out. I paid less than $10 for my copy, and it’s chock full of great advice for a variety of curl textures. The blogger of Toddled Dredge explains the Massey method here, and I’ve adapted her brown sugar scalp scrub to suit my own purposes.

Once a week, I do a scalp scrub with conditioner and coarse brown sugar (I hear turbinado sugar, also known as demarara, or Sugar in the Raw, works well too).

Here’s how I do it.

1 — Part my hair roughly into four sections before entering the shower. You can use big clips to secure, or just your fingers. I don’t get technical, I just need to see and feel where my part is.

2 — Get a saucer, pile it with three or four heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, and take it into the shower. Taking great pains NOT to get the sugar wet before I use it, I wet my hair first.

3 — Add anti-dandruff conditioner of choice. My current favorite is Optimum Care Dandruff Solutions moisture rich conditioner. Honey Brown Sugar recommends Hair Mayo for her brown sugar scrub.

4 — Before the conditioner has had a chance to melt into the sugar, start scrubbing! Gently work brown sugary conditioner along the part, and especially along the hairline (where embarrassing flakes always appear). Scrubby scrub scrub till all the sugar’s gone.

5 — Rinse thoroughly, because you don’t want leftover sugar in your hair or behind your ears, or dripping down the back of your neck. Et voila, your scalp feels oh so clean and flake free.

I do this every week, and thus far * knock on wood * my scalp issues seem to be at bay. This, after months of using all kinds of pre-shampoo and post-shampoo dandruff lotions and potions. Keep in mind, what works for me might not work for you, and everyone’s beauty issues are different… but if you’ve had itchy, flaky scalp issues and tried everything on your drugstore shelf, let me know how regular scalp scrubs work for ya.

The exfoliating pleasures and benefits of brown sugar don’t stop at my scalp, I also love it when my lips get flaky (a little Vaseline, or olive oil and my lips are smooth and soft), and as a decadently delicious body scrub. To wit: Bare Budget Beauty features the simplest of recipes — brown sugar + olive oil + a hint of vanilla extract will make your whole body smell yummylicious and feel oh so soft. My husband loves it.

Sugar scrubs tend to leave the shower stall a little messy and a lot slippery, so watch your step while you’re in there!

This post wouldn’t be complete without a little D’Angelo, am I right, bellas?

Random bonus — when I did a Google image search for brown sugar, this image came up. Very Afrobella-appropriate, no? I love it!

Do you have any brown sugar beauty treatments? Do tell!


Wes says:
October 13, 2008, 11:01 am
I did this same post a while back!! Turbinado sugar is most important to use ("Sugar in the Raw") b/c regular brown sugar w/ melt in the conditioner.
LD in PDX says:
October 13, 2008, 11:07 am
I was taught as a kid to use sugar as an exfoliant on my face but I never thought to use it on my scalp! I have locs right now so I have been using ACV, which is working well, but it is nice to have a back up! Thank you Bella.
kim says:
October 13, 2008, 11:19 am
The Universe is so wonderful. Bella,I was just thinking about a brown sugar scrub of some sort. I am so glad to have been on twitter when you released this! Ihave a date with some sugah!
afrobello says:
October 13, 2008, 12:33 pm
Again, you've spoken directly to a problem issue for me. I'll have to give the brown sugar remedy a try.
sungoddess says:
October 13, 2008, 12:42 pm
Queen.... you rock!
B says:
October 13, 2008, 1:01 pm
Sounds good! I might give this a shot, or at least use a sugar scrub for other parts of my body--like my ashy elbows! I've been doing an ACV rinse after every shampoo, and that's been helpful in fighting the dandruff.
BKBajan says:
October 13, 2008, 1:03 pm
Thank you!!! I will definitely give this a try.
Moni says:
October 13, 2008, 4:27 pm
I have been using a similar brown sugar scrub on my body for years now. My basic recipe is just brown sugar and olive oil, but sometimes I doctor it up using various essential oils or fresh ginger to make a delicious ginger body scrub. Imo, it works better than any other body scrub I've ever tried! I'll have to try it on my hair now.
SoFrolushes says:
October 13, 2008, 4:44 pm
heard about using brown sugar but never tried it. i have not even done acv or any clarifying treatment. sounds practical, though is brown sugar best as refined sugar is not grainy enough?
Alicia says:
October 13, 2008, 5:33 pm
Since I went natural my scalp problem disappearing but I might try the brown scrub for ummm other reasons. alicia
Trish says:
October 13, 2008, 8:23 pm
This is a great tip. I also had a problem with dandruff until I went natural. I occasionally use the brown sugar and extra virgin olive oil scrub - it's great - never even thought about using vanilla extract with it but I think I will try it out!
Bella Noire says:
October 13, 2008, 11:23 pm
I have been using a scrub made of Himalayan rock salt and coconut oil and my skin comes out unbelievably soft and beautiful. Now I will try brown sugar. Thanks for the tip.
bella says:
October 13, 2008, 11:37 pm
SoFrolushes - exactly. The coarser and grainier the sugar, the better. Bella Noire - that sounds lovely! I always prefer a sugar to a salt scrub, though. Sometimes they make my skin sting afterwards.
HappyToBeNappy says:
October 14, 2008, 8:40 am
I am so gonna try this. I have been dealing with an itchy dry scalp for a few months now. Not sure why it's so bad all of a sudden, but I'm gonna try this when it's time to wash my hair.
[fung'ke] [blak] [chik]â„¢ says:
October 14, 2008, 10:14 am
I'm definitely going to pass this on to my sister, she's been dealing with some dry scalp issues recently!
Denise says:
October 14, 2008, 1:02 pm
Thanks! i WILL be trying this:)
Janelle says:
October 14, 2008, 1:32 pm
I was singing that song in my head the entire time I was reading this post. LOL I will definitely give this a try . I just got a major hair cut (rather chomp) because my hair is sooooooo dry. and I'll definitely be trying the brown sugar vanilla scrub. I may even add a little almond oil to it - one of my fave scents.
Jaime says:
October 14, 2008, 10:27 pm
Interesting, never heard of this one and I'm a true kitchentician, always mixing up a hair product. Sounds like it would be worth a try.
Brandi says:
October 19, 2008, 2:58 pm
ok bellla. I tried this this morning. I've been dealing with an itchy scalp for far too long. So I used sugar in the raw instead of plain brown sugar. The turninado sugar held up like a champ. It didn't dissolve until until I started rinsing. I only tried it this morning but I haven't scratched my scalp once, which is like a miracle. Thanks for the tip!
Denene of MyBrownBaby says:
November 19, 2008, 7:40 pm
This is brilliant. I'm going to try this right away... thank you for posting this, and especially for sending me the emergency link. You're the one.
Coconut-Oil-Taylor says:
September 1, 2009, 6:08 pm
Great Article, I never thought brown sugar can be used for the hair. Brown sugar is refined white sugar with a molasses syrup mixed in, then dried again and it's marginally different from the white sugar.
Soleilchocolat says:
January 3, 2010, 3:11 am
Thanks for the tip, Bella! This is helpful because I suffer from some serious dandruff. But, do you know if you can use the brown sugar scrub on relaxed hair?
pure virgin coconut oil says:
July 14, 2010, 12:08 pm
The very first question which is usually posed is whether or not coconut oil is healthy to use. Producers of other oils have long attempted to smear coconut oil as a bad oil simply because it's predominantly made-up of saturated fats. Aren't those the poor fats? In a lot of cases they're, but within the case of coconut oil their makeup is really different from many other oils. Coconut oil is largely composed of medium chain fatty acids which can be healthy. Most other saturated fats can't say this. The stability saturated fats helps to assure that coconut oil will not break down into trans fatty acids and free radicals when subjected to higher temperatures.
Panasonic GH2 review says:
August 31, 2011, 3:21 am
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grow black hair long says:
May 25, 2012, 10:03 pm
I am thinking of my first scalp scrub this weekend and hope it is beneficial for me though I am thinking of making it with granulated white sugar. Hope it works