The Shikoma Sugar Dust Exfoliating Scrub from Prana Spaceuticals ($36) is quite the luxurious-looking product. It comes in a generous 16-ounce tub with a fancy gold “Prana” charm hanging from a black band around the lid. The packaging for the scrub, as with most Prana products, has a very Zen feel to it (in fact, the company name is Sanskrit for “breath”). So my first thoughts were that this would make a lovely gift. But I was also eager to dive in and see if the product could deliver on its de-stressing promises (I’m planning a December 2012 wedding, so you could imagine how harried I am right now).

The product is the color of sand, and the consistency reminds me of... cream of wheat (sorry, nothing better comes to mind). As many scrubs containing essential oils do, this one separates. So you have to dig in and mix up the product a bit with clean hands (or a spatula). The fragrance is not overwhelming – it derives from the cherry blossom extract; but I also picked up almond notes. I love almond-scented beauty products, so it gets de-stressing points right there.

The sloughing properties primarily comes from raw sugar (hence the color), and I found that when I massaged it on wet skin in a circular motion, it didn’t quickly dissolve, like some other sugar scrubs I’ve used. The “Sugar Dust” name fools you because this is not some incredibly gentle (read: barely effective) product. It is a serious exfoliant, and it should only be used before waxing or shaving (I made this mistake the first time I used the product, and I could have sworn it was a salt scrub).

The best part was the feeling of my skin after I rinsed off the exfoliant (the directions say to use on hands and feet, but I pretty much used it all over). A thin layer of the oils (a blend of sesame, rice bran, sunflower, and carrot extract) remained on my skin; and when I toweled off, my arms and legs were super smooth to the touch. I didn’t have to follow with a body moisturizer, but come winter I will probably need the extra boost of hydration.

In short, this exfoliating scrub does the job it says it does, and does it well. As a note: the application suggestion from Prana is to wrap the hands and feet with a warm towel for 20 minutes to allow the oils to penetrate the skin before rinsing or wiping off the scrub with a warm towel. Now this sounds heavenly, and I will definitely try this next time I need a spa break. Maybe I can enlist my fiancé to play esthetician.

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, SoapWort, Shea Butter, Sugar Cane, Turbinado Sucrose, Sesame Seed Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Sunflower Oil, Carrot Oil, Apricot Kernel, Fig Extract