13 Natural Dry-Skin Remedies You Can DIY at Home
The list of culprits that cause dry skin is a long one, from daily bathing habits (think hot showers and scrubbing yourself dry with a towel) and wicked winter weather to a lack of natural oils in your skin as you age.
The good news is that unless you’re managing a skin condition, you may not need to visit a dermatologist to soothe dry skin. Instead, you might consider incorporating a home remedy to your skin-care routine.
In fact, the ingredients for these dry-skin fixes may already be in your kitchen. Several of the ingredients we include below, such as coconut oil, tea, and aloe vera, are often collectively referenced as “remedies,” though they have been used for centuries as homeopathic medicines in cultures worldwide. Importantly, though, if you are managing an underlying skin condition that may be causing your dry skin, be sure to consult a board-certified dermatologist before you try any home remedy. Doing so can help you avoid worsening dry skin.
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“Home remedies are great for many skin types, especially if you are in a pinch or opt for alternative skin-care remedies,” says Jennifer Adell, a licensed aesthetician and the senior aesthetician at New Beauty and Wellness in Westport, Connecticut. “However, if you are experiencing chronic skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, and cystic acne, consult with an aesthetician or dermatologist.”
Why Opt for a Natural Dry-Skin Remedy Rather Than Buy a Product?
If long ingredient lists concern or confuse you, a home remedy may be worth trying. Over-the-counter products can have a ton of ingredients — they not only contain the active moisturizing products, but they also have preservatives, says Christine Poblete-Lopez, MD, the residency program director and vice chair of the department of dermatology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
That’s often the case for water-based products, because bacteria grow easily in these formulas, according to Michigan State University. But while well intentioned, these preservatives, not to mention additives such as alcohol and fragrances, can contribute to irritation, dry skin, and sometimes allergic reactions.
You may prefer to keep your skin-care routine simple, especially if you have allergies or a sensitive complexion. For example, unlike preservative-laden water-based lotions and creams, oils have a natural base, making them a good choice for dry skin when a skin condition isn’t involved.
Keep in mind, though, that oils and other over-the-counter remedies aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so they aren’t guaranteed to be risk free. It’s always a good idea to check with a dermatologist before adding any new DIY recipe to your skin-care routine, to be safe.
How Natural Remedies Can Soothe Dry, Irritated Skin
Your skin naturally produces oil, called sebum, which protects it from moisture loss, but everyday actions — such as forgetting to put on moisturizer or washing your hands with a drying soap — can strip away these natural oils. For people without acne, oils can restore skin’s sheen and protective moisture barrier.
Dermatologists generally recommend that people with acne choose an oil with care, as acne is usually caused by overproduction of sebum, per the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). One option is tea tree oil, as some evidence supports the idea that tea tree oil may improve mild to moderate acne — including a past randomized controlled study and an uncontrolled pilot study published in the August 2017 Australasian Journal of Dermatology — though you’ll want to consult with a dermatologist before beginning a new acne treatment. Tea tree oil in particular may cause skin irritation.
There are many ways to reap the moisturizing benefits of oils, either on their own or with other ingredients, to make a DIY nourishing mask or an exfoliating rub. Poblete-Lopez suggests that castor oil, lavender oil, and avocado oil may be good ingredients for certain people with dry skin.
Coconut oil is another oil you may have in your kitchen cabinet that can be a good choice for those not prone to acne. In one previous randomized controlled trial, people with atopic dermatitis — a type of eczema and an allergic skin condition characterized by dryness and itching — saw an improvement in symptoms when they used virgin coconut oil on their skin.
Aloe vera, a houseplant with natural healing properties, is also effective as a natural moisturizer. According to a review published in the June 2019 Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, aloe vera gel contains mucopolysaccharides, such as hyaluronic acid, which help lock moisture into the skin and make this another naturally moisturizing skin-care ingredient you’ll want to try.
13 Natural, DIY Remedies to Moisturize Dry Skin
The next time your dry skin needs a little TLC, try one of these easy at-home remedies.
1. Whip Up an Olive Oil Moisturizer to Soothe Dry Skin
If you need extra moisture fast, Adell recommends extra-virgin olive oil as an alternative to your moisturizer — but only if you’re in a pinch.
“Olive oil contains vitamin E, antioxidants, squalene, and other properties that repair damaged skin,” she says. Adell also notes that this may not be a good choice for acne-prone skin, because of the risk of clogging your pores.
Before applying olive oil directly to your skin, double-check whether this solution is right for you by consulting a dermatologist. As research published in December 2017 by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences notes, olive oil may reduce inflammation, but applying it topically on its own may damage your skin barrier.
If you decide to try olive oil, Adell recommends a pure, or regular, form that isn’t refined with other oils, and to use it sparingly, such as applying a few drops to a face mask, or massaging the oil into extremely dry areas like your elbows.
2. DIY a Rich, Creamy Avocado Mask
A homemade mask of avocado is another natural way to soothe dry skin, and Adell has used it at home in her own family. “This face mask is chock-full of antioxidants [and] probiotics that will promote healthy, glowing skin,” she says. She recommends combining ½ avocado with ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (which may improve skin texture because of its lactic acid content, according to a review in a 2020 issue of Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology), along with a drizzle of manuka honey and 1 teaspoon of turmeric for potential anti-inflammatory benefits and to improve symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, per a separate review in the September 2019 Nutrients. Apply the mixture to clean skin and let it set for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing off.
As for the other half of the avocado, eat it! A small pilot study in the September 2022 Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that a group of female participants who ate an avocado daily increased their skin elasticity and firmness.
Another method used in another study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, in September 2020, combined avocado oil with water and saffron extract. Researchers found that this combination rejuvenated the skin and reduced the appearance of wrinkles, though it’s not clear whether any significant moisturization was noted.
3. Make a Natural Coconut Oil and Sugar Scrub
To treat dead skin cells that might be giving your skin a dry texture and appearance, you may consider a gentle homemade sugar scrub. Michigan State University recommends combining 1 cup of brown or granulated sugar with ½ cup of coconut oil. If you want, you can add an essential oil like lavender, which lends a natural fragrance and may promote relaxation and decrease anxiety, as a randomized controlled trial in the January 2022 Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine suggested. Gently rub the scrub into your skin for up to 30 seconds, then wash it off with lukewarm water. Last, the AAD recommends using a soothing moisturizer to lock in the benefits of freshly exfoliated skin.
Keep in mind that physical, or mechanical, exfoliation of this type may not be suitable for all skin types. The AAD doesn’t recommend scrubs for irritated, acne-prone, or sensitive skin.
Adell cautions against the use of sugar scrubs on sensitive skin, especially on the face. “The skin on your face is far more delicate than your body, so physical exfoliation can easily cause irritation and sensitivity,” she says. “My go-to exfoliation methods use chemical peel pads or enzyme powders.”
4. Create an Easy Oatmeal Soak to Calm Your Skin
A cup of oatmeal in a warm bath can naturally rehydrate dry skin, Poblete-Lopez says. “The oat product itself is soothing,” she explains, and it helps your skin retain moisture from the bathwater. Or, for a mess-free soak, tie the oats to your faucet in pantyhose and run your bathwater through them.
If you have eczema, oatmeal may offer relief from dry, inflamed, or irritated skin associated with both atopic and contact dermatitis, says DermNetNZ. In a double-blind study published in March 2020 in Clinical Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, researchers observed that colloidal oatmeal treated hand eczema with its anti-inflammatory, soothing, and protective effects.
5. Exfoliate Your Face With a Homemade Oatmeal Honey Mask
Oatmeal makes a great exfoliator or mask, too. Mix 2 tablespoons of oats with 1 tablespoon of honey and a dash of water. You can use it just to exfoliate and wash it off right away, or leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes as a soothing, hydrating mask. As a review in the October 2021 Open Life Sciences pointed out, honey may have antimicrobial properties that may also help accelerate wound healing.
6. Apply Coconut Oil Before Bedtime
Coconut oil, which a review in the July 2022 Journal of Drugs in Dermatology noted has roots in African and Indian cultures, is a popular home treatment for healthy hair and skin. “Coconut oil becomes a solid at room temperature, so use it as a moisturizing cream at bedtime or anytime,” recommends Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care in Beverly Hills, California. “For chapped heels and hands, apply the oil, then layer with thick socks or nonlatex gloves.”
7. Consider Using Nourishing Oils
“Natural oils are great for moisturizing the skin and helping to recreate the natural skin barrier, which is often damaged by frequent hand and face washing with water and drying soaps that strip the skin of its natural protective oils,” Dr. Shainhouse says. Aside from olive oil or coconut oil, you can test out other natural oils that are free from irritants, including jojoba, argan, and avocado oils. To use, Shainhouse recommends adding a few tablespoons of the desired oil under running bathwater. Treat yourself to a short soak and gently pat your skin dry afterward to avoid removing all the oil.
But as research published in December 2017 in Women’s Health suggests, bathing with oils may not be best for women because of vaginal health risks. Instead, you may consider applying a small amount of your preferred oil to your skin post-shower to keep it soft and moist.
8. Use Milk Compresses for Irritated Skin
“Milk has natural anti-inflammatory properties,” says Shainhouse. “It also contains lactic acid, a mild, natural exfoliant.” In a 14-day controlled study published in the August 2020 Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, the use of a lactic-acid and ceramide-containing lotion twice daily was found to significantly improve skin hydration while eliminating dead skin cells, which suggests lactic-acid products may provide exfoliating benefits. That said, longer-term research is needed to confirm these results.
Additionally, Adell notes lactic acid is “one of the most hydrating [alpha-hydroxy acids] on the market.” She says it’s one of the safer acids for sensitive skin, and may also be used during pregnancy.
To make a milk compress, Cincinnati Health Institute advises soaking a clean cloth (like a washcloth or a towel) in a bowl of cool milk, and holding it in place over any dry areas. Shainhouse recommends using these compresses on your skin for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. It’s especially helpful for irritated skin that’s itchy, too.
Lactic acid can sting cracked skin, though, so use with caution, per Harvard Health Publishing. “Feeling mild tingling is common, but if you experience burning, stop using it and talk to your dermatologist or aesthetician,” Adell says. While research in the September 2018 Dermatologic Therapy notes that lactic acid may be beneficial in restoring the skin barrier and treating related conditions such as eczema, you may want to avoid this remedy if you have an active flare-up with cracked skin.
9. Consider a Fruit Enzyme Cleanser or Exfoliant
Fruit enzymes can be a fun way to ease dry skin. “These alpha-hydroxy acids are great for gently exfoliating the superficial layer of dulling dead skin cells on the face and body,” says Shainhouse. And, as the FDA notes, AHAs not only help remove dead skin cells, but they may also improve the appearance of aging skin and your overall skin texture.
Shainhouse recommends a fruit-enzyme-infused wash or mask twice per week. According to research published in November 2021, some good fruit enzymes to look for include bromelain (found in pineapple), papain (found in papaya), and ficain (found in figs).
10. Apply Aloe Vera to Dry, Irritated Skin
While often thought of as sunburn relief, aloe vera gel can be helpful during the dry winter months, too. It works by alleviating redness and irritation related to excess dryness, and it can even decrease signs of aging, as well as acne breakouts and skin injuries, according to previous research. Shainhouse cautions that some people develop allergic contact dermatitis, a type of eczema, to aloe, so you may want to perform a patch test before you apply it to a large area of skin.
11. Use Honey as a Spot Treatment for Dry Patches
Honey has emollient and humectant effects that can soften your skin and help it retain moisture, according to past research. It’s also an alternative treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including dermatitis, psoriasis, and dandruff.
Honey, and especially manuka honey, is also effective at healing wounds, according to another past review: It’s naturally antimicrobial, keeps the affected area moist, and has a thick consistency that works as a barrier against infection.
These properties make honey a good base for face mask recipes, and it can be a powerful spot treatment for patches of dry, irritated skin. (As Adell notes for the avocado mask, the addition of manuka honey increases wound healing while decreasing inflammation in the skin.) For best results, apply honey in small amounts to your face. Leave on for several minutes before rinsing it off.
12. Brew Tea Bags to Soothe Inflammation
If you already drink tea, you may be able to find other uses for tea bags you have in your pantry. Adell says this includes herbal teas like chamomile and jasmine as well as caffeinated green and black teas.
According to the Cincinnati Health Institu
What Is a Cleansing Milk?
Got (Cleansing) Milk?
What makes a cleansing milk different from other cleansers? Physically, cleansing your face with a cleansing milk feels like dipping your skin into a cloud – they’re softer, creamier, and thinner than your average gel cleanser.
Water vs. oil content
In the world of cleansers, cleansing milk doesn’t get as much attention as their scrubby counterparts. A typical skin cleanser requires water as an activator; the water creates the cleanser’s final texture, be it a lather or scrub. Many prefer to apply cleansing milk directly to skin without water, since the lathering action comes from the fats in the formula itself.
What makes a cleansing milk unique is the combination of oil and water. As we mentioned, there’s really no need to add water to use, meaning there’s no surfactant cleansing agent at work. Water is really only needed to rinse the cleanser away after you’ve massaged it over your skin.
The same cleansing milk components feeding the skin supportive nutrients are also working to cleanse away dirt and debris. Multi-tasking ingredients like coconut oil in our Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk provides vitamin E support, moisturizing and softening properties, as well as antibacterial cleansing and a deep, gentle clean.
Creamy, dreamy texture
Texture is the name of the game with cleansing milks. The smooth creaminess sweeps into our pores, gently lifting away surface debris while preserving the natural moisture and softness of our skin. Some harsher cleansers can be stripping, leaving skin dry and tight. Cleansing milks are pillow-soft with emollient qualities, which is what makes these types of cleansers excellent for dry and sensitive skin types.
Two-for-one cleansing action
We stan a simple evening routine, and finding a cleanser that tackles dirt as well as makeup is like hitting the lottery. Cleansing milk makes our makeup removing and cleansing process a two-for-one experience, and allows us to keep our skin care routine as uncomplicated as possible.
Gentle enough for your morning cleanse
Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty; it’s time for your morning facial! Your skin might be a bit puffy from staying up all night with Prince Charming – uneven skin tone, dark circles, and dryness are real instances in which we #WokeUpLikeThis.
We don’t want to attack our skin with astringents or super textured cleansers while it’s already trying to repair, especially if your skin type is combination or dry. Instead, smoothing on a calming cleansing milk first thing in the morning sweeps away any residue from your hair, pillow, or sweat. It jump-starts the moisturization and hydration process, and allows skin a moment of recovery in an otherwise hectic morning.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Cleansing Milk?
Cleansing milks are great, but there are certain times or specific skin types that might benefit from more targeted care. For example, someone suffering from moderate to severe acne would see the most calming results from cleansers that target breakouts. Preferable ingredients might include tea tree oil, charcoal, or lavender, while oil-forward and emollient components in a cleansing milk aren’t likely to have power over active breakouts.
This also means that somewhat to very oily skin types are better suited with cleansers specifically designed to balance sebum, rather than a cleansing milk.
100% PURE™ Cleansing Milks
Calendula Flower Cleansing Milk
We’ll never get over just how creamy and luxurious cleansing milks feel on the skin. Here’s what makes our all new Calendula Flower Cleansing Milk a total crowd-pleaser!
This floral fantasy cleansing milk does wonders for the skin. A single pump delivers milky hydration that smooths over the skin like early morning mist, addressing any imbalances on the surface first. Calming natural ingredients and botanicals are what make this gentle gem a favorite skin treatment for dry or sensitive skin types.
The type of water included in this cleansing milk is what makes it transformative for the skin:
- Aloe Vera Leaf Juice: One of our favorite skin care formula bases, aloe feels like slipping into satin pajamas for our skin. This skin savior soothes active inflammation like acne and rosacea, while helping to clear the complexion and hydrate skin.
- Glycerin: A humectant power player when it comes to hydration, glycerin helps boost and maintain skin’s moisture levels by drawing in the hydration it needs from the environment.
- Calendula Flower Water: The star of the show, this lovely floral is lesser known but effective for diminishing inflammation. Natural brightening properties deliver on a more youthful glow.
- Rose Water: A favorite floral of ours, red and rosy skin take a backseat with this hydrating, super soothing ingredient.
As we now know, cleansing milk is a harmony of water and oil-based ingredients. This marriage makes for a unique blend of hydrating, moisturizing, and purifying abilities for the skin. Our Calendula Cleansing Milk features the following fruity and floral oils to deliver calm, cleansed skin:
- Calendula Oil: To add to the list of what we love about calendula, this flower also helps preserve our skin’s collagen and maintain tight, plump skin for a youthful appearance.
- Sea Buckthorn Fruit Oil: This shrub extract is perfect for addressing inflammatory skin conditions but also helps with new skin cell generation for fewer lines and smoother skin.
- Chamomile & Geranium Oils: A sweet blend that makes for a calming skin remedy to reduce irritation and breakouts
Just as important as what it includes, is what this natural cleansing milk leaves out. Free of surfactants and synthetic fragrances, this vegan cleansing milk makes dry skin woes, deep dirt, and surface skin debris just melt away.
Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk
Boasting just six ingredients, sensitive skin types and dry skin alike will appreciate the simplicity of our Coconut Oil Cleansing Milk. Sink into creamy, dreamy softness as coconut milk brightens and smooths skin by working to restore elasticity.
Coconut oil delivers fatty acids right where we want them, is at work helping to pull out anything undesirable on or in our skin. Fragrant, anti-inflammatory vanilla supports skin soothing while working with coconut milk to boost suppleness. With natural humectant properties from vanilla, glycerin, and coconut, this cleanser will stay on standby to keep skin hydrated well after you rinse it off.
This formula might make you thirsty for a fresh-cut coconut on the beach – meanwhile, let your skin experience the soothing bliss of a gentle, luxurious cleansing milk made from real coconut!
What Is Skin Polishing?
Skin polishing is a technique used to brighten or exfoliate dull skin by removing the dead skin on the surface. This improves your skin’s texture, making it smoother, and also reverses skin damages like tan or uneven skin tone.
It is also referred to as microdermabrasion . The procedure can be done on various parts of the body like the neck, hands, back, etc. Microdermabrasion treatments are effectively used to treat melasma photoaging, striae or stretch marks , hyperpigmentation, age spots crow’s feet and improves the tone and texture of the skin.
How Is The Treatment Done?
Skin polishing is a treatment where the skin is polished and nourished with nutrients, while the dead skin is removed. It is a gentle procedure and similar to a facial.
The technique typically includes a device that the skincare professional will use to gently remove the top layer of the skin in the area being treated. This is followed by the application of a serum or moisturiser based on your skin type to close the open pores and maximise the benefits of the procedure on the skin.
Skin polishing can be done at home or by a skincare professional or dermatologist. However, we advise you not to try it without the professional advice of an expert. For best results, microdermabrasion should ideally be done for upto 8 sessions with a gap of 3-4 weeks between each session.
Types Of Skin Polishing
Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are the two most popular forms of skin polishing treatments. The most common ones are the Crystal and the Diamond Microdermabrasion techniques used by most dermatologists and skincare professionals.
A new method being used is hydradermabrasion, where crystal-free exfoliation products are used simultaneously with creams that get absorbed into the skin. This method aims at increasing collagen  production and blood flow while removing dead skin.
Depending on the problem being addressed, the number of treatments can vary from person to person. They usually range between 4-12 sessions; however, there should be a gap of 2-3 weeks between each session.
1. Clinical Methods
A. Crystal Microdermabrasion
It is a non-invasive procedure that uses the principle of friction to sand away the top layer of the skin. The hand held device uses aluminium oxide srystals that are sprayed onto the skin at high speed. Simultaneously, an attached vacuum sucks away the dirt and dead skin.
- Very little downtime required (24 hours).
- Results visible almost immediately after the procedure.
- Permanently removes scars and marks in a few sittings.
- Good for acne reduction as the crystals have antibacterial qualities.
- The crystals can access wrinkles, and the lines near your nose and mouth because of their irregular shape.
- Aluminum Oxide that is used in the crystals is inert, hence non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and will not cause any allergies or adverse reactions.
- Crystal dermabrasion can be more effective for older skins with sun damage that need treatment.
- It may be too strong a treatment for younger or sensitive skins.
- The skin can be sensitive to the sun for a few weeks.
- Slight redness of the skin can occur, however, that fades away in a few hours.
- The spray can be hard to control in the hands of someone less experienced.
- Skin may feel sensitive to the touch.
- Use a strong sunscreen with high SPF, if you have to step out.
- Use hypoallergenic products that nourish and moisturise your skin.
- Avoid colour cosmetics on the skin if the treatment has been done on the face.
- Avoid using anti-acne creams and lotions on the face.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
- Avoid touching your skin and body heating exercises like a sauna or a hot shower.
B. Diamond Microdermabrasion
Here, a handpiece with a diamond-tip is used to exfoliate the skin very gently. It simultaneously uses a suction method to suck in the dead skin and dirt it exfoliates. This method is used for sensitive areas with thin skin — the under-eye region and the surrounding areas.
- Preferred by skincare professionals as it gives them more control for better results.
- No chance of any particle getting inhaled or irritating the eyes.
- Diamonds being the hardest substance found, they can be most effective for dermabrasion.
- Gives the professional more control for better treatment over delicate areas near the eyes and mouth.
- Effective on sensitive skin and does deeper exfoliation.
- Ideal for younger, firmer skins, especially if you need glowing skin for your wedding or a big occasion.
- Fixed and rigid shape makes it difficult to reach every part of the face.
- Build-up of dead skin particles on the wand’s tip may increase risk of bacterial infections.
- Can be less effective on skin with wrinkles and lines as the wand doesn’t have crystals that can fit into the crevices and irregularities on the skin’s surface.
- Avoid applying any topical creams — medicated or cosmetic.
- Use sunscreen with a high SPF.
- Avoid applying make-up for a few days.
- Stay away from hot showers or saunas; steam rooms or exercise — anything that increases your body temperature — for at least 24-48 hours.
- Drink a lot of water and don’t touch your skin.
2. Home Methods
Microdermabrasion can be done at home as there are several branded kits available. These treatments can be done once a week upto a period of eight weeks. However, it is best to talk to your dermatologist before trying it yourself at home.
An effective home solution that can work as a substitute for a salon microdermabrasion treatment is mixing baking soda and your cleansing face wash to form a paste. Scrub your face gently with this mixture — it will remove dead skin and help the skin to absorb any moisturiser that you use after a shower. You can do this once or twice a month.
Benefits Of Skin Polishing
Skin polishing can make the skin brighter, softer and minimise the appearance of acne, fine lines and spots. It also improves blood circulation and is effective in treating enlarged pores and blackheads. For skin problems such as stretch marks and scars, hyperkeratosis , etc., skin polishing can be a permanent solution.
How Is Skin Polishing & Brightening Different From Facials?
A skin polishing treatment can make the skin’s tone even and take care of a wide range of skin problems in a non-invasive way. Its results are more effective than facials, in terms of giving the skin a glow and removing dead skin. Facials only work on the top most surface of the skin to improve its appearance, while polishing exfoliates dead skin to resurface healthier skin.
What Are The Side Effects Of This Treatment?
Usually, there are no side effects if you follow all the precautions prescribed by your dermatologist. Immediately after a session, there might be slight redness on the skin, which goes off in a few hours.
How Long Does The Procedure Take?
Depending on the area it is being worked on, each skin polishing session lasts for 45 minutes to an hour.
Who Is Eligible For This Treatment?
All skin types can avail of this treatment as it is safe. However, people with severe skin conditions are not eligible for this treatment.
So, if you wish to have younger and brighter looking skin, or want to minimise the appearance of fine lines, crow’s feet or wrinkles, skin polishing is a treatment you can opt for. It is safe, non-invasive and the results are visible in a few sessions. However, getting it done by a professional dermatologist is recommended.
Tips for Successful Ice Cream Truck Business
Starting an ice cream truck business can be an excellent choice for an entrepreneur launching a career.
The financial barriers to entry aren’t overwhelming, and, to some extent, the business allows a fair amount of flexibility regarding hours. Also, an ice cream truck business is highly scalable. To expand, all you need to do is to purchase a second truck.
If this gets you interested in learning how to start an ice cream truck business, take a look at some of the unique considerations and steps involved in this unique and delicious business.
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1. Assess the resources you need to start your business
The major asset you need to start your ice cream truck business is, not surprisingly, the truck itself. Look into purchasing a used ice cream truck that has freezers installed. If you aren’t able to find one that meets your needs, you’ll have to purchase a truck or step van and make the necessary alterations. Taking all of this into account, plan to spend $10,000 to $20,000 for your truck.
Operating expenses include gasoline and maintenance costs, among many others. Once you know the length of the route, you plan to drive you can calculate your costs.
Of course, you need to purchase the ice cream itself on a regular basis, in addition to any toppings, cones, cups or any other supplies you might need. The good news is that you’ll receive payment immediately for your products, so you’ll have an income that you can turn right around to keep your inventory well stocked. Most ice cream truck businesses can bank on spending around $1,500 to purchase startup inventory.
Other costs when starting an ice cream truck business include the permits and licenses necessary to operate. These expenses will vary depending on where your ice cream truck is located and the local laws that the government has put in place. Also, consult with your insurance company to receive an insurance quote for your ice cream truck.
If you’re planning to start an ice cream truck business by yourself, at least initially, you won’t need to budget for labor costs. But if you expect to hire staff to drive your truck and serve ice cream, make sure to factor those costs into your startup budget as well.
2. Decide what type of ice cream to sell
While most traditional ice cream trucks sell ice cream novelties, some do well selling soft-serve ice cream or hard ice cream. Novelties are by far the easiest choice since the main requirement is sufficient freezer space. It also reduces some of the food handling concerns that come with running an ice cream truck business since the ice cream is pre-packaged. Your inventory will also be easier to manage and keep track of. When starting an ice cream truck business, this is one aspect you’ll want to take your time deciding on. Consider your options carefully because it will have a profound impact on everything from your branding to the demographic you attract and most importantly your bottom line.
Though inventory management for pre-packaged ice cream might be easier, a truck that sells soft serve or hard ice cream has the potential to be more profitable. The variations are virtually limitless with this kind of product. You can vary prices by the scoop, combination of ice cream flavors, toppings and more, all of which makes your offerings more appealing to potential customers. Also, if you’re selling soft serve or hard ice cream, you still have the option to add novelties to your inventory such as prepackaged goods.
Nevertheless, if you make a commitment to serve soft serve or hard ice cream, you must plan on a more significant investment in equipment and staffing. Even your truck may be more expensive. As a result, making the novelties versus soft-serve/hard ice cream decision is one of the most crucial you will make as you plan your ice cream truck startup.
3. Choose and purchase your equipment
Among equipment you’ll want to consider when starting an ice cream truck business is an iPad-based point of sale (POS). Since most ice cream trucks get by with a calculator and a cash box, you might be wondering if the added cost of a POS system is necessary. It all comes down to your long-term business objectives. If the goal of your ice cream truck business is to grow into a thriving, profitable venture, investing in technology that speeds up transactions, simplifies inventory management and provides your business with actionable insights is key.
Starting off your business with a modern cloud-based POS will ensure that you put your best foot forward, improving productivity and automating some of the grunt work that comes with running a business. You can maximize sales by accepting a variety of payment types (cash, credit, or Apple Pay), monitor sales trends in real-time even when you’re away from your business, collect customer email addresses to encourage repeat visits and create a profitable ice cream truck menu by quickly identifying top-selling items.
Freezers and ice cream machines
You will, of course, need freezers, which should be bolted to the frame and floor of your truck. It’s a good idea to hire a professional refrigeration mechanic to make sure your freezers have the proper power supply and maintain the proper temperatures. When starting an ice cream shop, this is one corner you don’t want to cut. Problems with your refrigeration system can destroy your entire inventory in a matter of hours, costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
You can choose from either commercial chest freezers, which are typically between five and eight feet long, or from smaller, non-commercial freezers. To determine which type of freezer you should invest in, calculate the floor space you have available in the truck and estimate how much space you’ll need to store a full day’s worth of ice cream. Don’t forget to factor in enough space to move around within the truck.
If you’ve decided to serve soft-serve ice cream, you’ll need the appropriate equipment to create and dispense the ice cream. Also, you’ll need a generator to keep all of this equipment running. Another option is an inverter, which converts the 12-volt power of your truck’s battery to the 110-volt power needed to power the freezers and ice cream machines.
Other equipment you might need when starting your mobile ice cream business includes a music box and an amplification system that lets people know you’re coming. Consider getting a canopy to shelter customers from the sun as they place their order. You can also invest in decorative signs to let people know what they can buy from you, and specialized equipment needed for additional treats you might want to offer, such as shaved ice or slushies.
Make sure you also have the bowls, scoops and spoons you need—and don’t forget to stock up on plenty of napkins! Remember, you’ll also need adequate shelving to hold all these items.
It’s also important not to forget safety equipment. Flashing lights to place on the top and rear of your ice cream truck let pedestrians and traffic know you’re parked, and to help warn them that there are children around your truck or van. A backup alarm that sounds a warning whenever you put your truck into reverse is also a good idea, especially if you plan to set up in parking lots.
4. Plan your route
The obvious choices for an ice cream truck route are stopping points at nearby schools, parks and music and sporting venues. However, before you make plans to set up shop in the parking lot of the nearest park, check your town’s regulations to see if this is allowed.
Some municipalities, under pressure from parents or homeowners, don’t allow ice cream trucks to operate near schools or parks. Others may restrict where and when you can turn on the music that attracts your customers.
You also need to make sure you’re not trying to poach on a route already established by another ice cream truck, since doing so may insight hostility from that truck’s loyal customers, while also cutting into your sales. Do the research you need to make sure you can find a profitable and legal route in your area.
As the seasons change, so may your route. If you’re selling in a region that experiences harsh winters, you may have to store your truck until spring. You may want to adjust your route during summertime as well when driving near schools is not as profitable. Consider launching your food truck at the beginning of summer to find the largest possible audience for your products.
Consider making your ice cream truck available as well for local festivals, whether music festivals, food truck events or state fairs. At these events, you may be able to afford to offer your ice cream at a discount and instead make your profit from selling souvenirs and non-perishables. As you gain a following, have t-shirts made that provide a new kind of mobile advertising for your truck.
5. Select your vendors and plan for inventory storage
Since ice cream and ice cream novelties are readily available, you can shop around to find the items you want at the best prices. Look for commercial vendors to give you the best possible profit margin. Though not the most cost efficient, if you need to refill your inventory at the last minute, you can purchase treats and supplies at the local supermarket or warehouse club such as Costco or Sam’s Club. This is a good last-minute option during a sales surge on a hot summer’s day.
Remember that your need for a freezer won’t end when you finish your daily route. Unless you plan to sell out and restock each day, you’ll need a freezer available at the commissary where you store your truck each night so you don’t lose all your inventory.
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