Salt Scrub vs. Sugar Scrub:
How to Choose Between the Two
We all know we should exfoliate. And we all know that the microbeads that were ingredients in most exfoliants are bad for the environment. What's the answer? An all-natural salt or sugar scrub! Now, all that's left is choosing which is best, salt scrub vs. sugar scrub.
The natural ingredients in salt scrubs and sugar scrubs help keep your skin healthy and vibrant. Plus they are more environmentally friendly and don't contain the harmful chemicals that many other scrubs contain.
But what's the difference between a salt scrub vs. sugar scrub?
Whether you choose a salt scrub vs. sugar scrub, know that in both cases, you're choosing a mechanical exfoliant. Mechanical exfoliants break down the bonds of the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin using physical abrasion. This allows the new skin underneath to come to the top.
But, that's where the similarities end. Turns out, there are a lot of differences between a salt scrub vs. sugar scrub. And, according to dermatologists, some of these differences affect the way each one works.
Particle size is one of the most important differences between a salt scrub vs. sugar scrub.
First of all, you don't want to use regular table salt for a salt scrub. You want to use unrefined salt because it's not as processed as table salt. Most importantly, the particles will be much bigger than sugar particles.
This is important because the bigger particle size means that the salt scrub will be more abrasive than a sugar scrub. Sugar scrubs, because of their smaller and more easily dissolved particles, will be less abrasive.
Particle shape likewise plays an important role in the effectiveness of a scrub. As a larger particle, unrefined salt tends to be coarser than sugar. In other words, salt particles have edges, resulting in a rougher substance.
Sugar particles, on the other hand, are much more round and much less rough than salt particles. This makes them much gentler on the skin.
It also allows them to dissolve more easily in moisture and heat - two things that your skin provides. This means that as you're using the sugar scrub, the particles will dissolve and become smaller and even gentler. This can help limit any irritation that the scrub can cause.
Benefits of Each
That's not to say that they don't both have their places. The benefits of a salt scrub vs. sugar scrub are different but not necessarily better.
Salt isn't just for soup
Salt has a lot of amazing qualities that make it a useful beauty ingredient. Unrefined salt from mineral deposits contains anti-inflammatory and detoxifying substances. Epsom salts, though not the type of salt you'd use in a scrub, are great examples of these antiseptic benefits.
Due to these properties of salt, using a salt scrub can increase circulation in the skin. This can help in the healing process, which is what makes Epsom salts so beneficial for aches and pains. It's also why salts are usually the main ingredient in bath bombs.
Sugar for something sweet
Sugar scrubs, on the other hand, don't contain any of the trace minerals found in salt scrubs. However, they do carry naturally occurring glycolic acid.
You've probably seen the words glycolic acid before because this ingredient shows up in a lot of beauty products. And there's a good reason for this.
Glycolic acid is a very weak acid that breaks down the bond between dead cells on the surface of your skin. But since it's a weak acid, it doesn't harm the skin. It helps protect the skin by providing a barrier that helps lock in moisture.
Salty or Sweet
Choosing between a salt scrub vs. sugar scrub depends mostly on where you're using the scrub. It also depends heavily on your skin type. It's important not to use the wrong scrub in the wrong place because you could create micro-tears in the skin's surface, which would result in bacteria seeping in and causing breakouts.
Where to use salt scrubs
Since salt scrubs contain larger, coarser particles, these scrubs work best on thick skin that can take a bit more abrasion. The skin on your elbows, knees, and feet tend to be the thickest on the body. They also tend to be the locations where calluses develop.
However, they're not necessarily the only places you can use them. If you have oily skin, you likely also have thicker skin. This means that you might be able to use salt scrubs in more places on your body.
Just make sure to avoid areas where you already have an abrasion or a cut. You can imagine the stinging!
Where to use sugar scrubs
Sugar scrubs are gentler on the skin and are therefore better for more sensitive areas. Use sugar scrubs on the delicate skin of your face and decolletage.
But again, this doesn't mean you can't use them elsewhere. If you have dry or sensitive skin, a salt scrub will be too harsh. Sugar scrubs can also be used over the entire body to help heal dryness and keep the skin moist.
As an added benefit: if you forget to exfoliate until after you shave, sugar scrubs will sting a lot less than salt scrubs!
How often should you use scrubs?
Dermatologists agree that once or twice a week is often enough for most people.
If you have sensitive skin, you'll want to exfoliate no more than once a week, and you'll want to make sure you use a gentle scrub made of sugar.
If you have oily skin, you'll probably want to exfoliate twice a week. Use a sugar scrub on your face, but you could use a salt scrub on your body if you so choose. If you have acne or folliculitis, using a salt scrub can help heal that more quickly.
No matter which scrub you use, make sure to follow with moisturizer. The reason exfoliating is so important is that it strips away the top layer of dead skin cells, leaving the new, younger cells exposed. The last thing you want is to dry out these new cells.
Dermatologists recommend moisturizing within three minutes of washing off your scrub. This ensures that you don't lose your skin's moisture to the air.
Enjoy Your Beautifully Smooth Skin
Choosing between a salt scrub vs. sugar scrub may be a pain, but the benefits to your skin are well worth it. Both types of natural scrub will leave your skin soft, smooth, and glowing.
What's not to love about that?