Salt scrub vs sugar scrub – which is best?

Salt or sugar scrub

People often wonder whether it's better to use salt or sugar in their homemade scrubs. Here are some thoughts to help you decide.

The first thing to think about is that salt can be a little drying. You will of course have the oil to moisturise you, but if you have very dry skin, you may find sugar more gentle.

For very sensitive skin, brown sugar or raw sugar is a good option.

Salt does have various beneficial properties of its own, of course. See bath salt ingredients for more details, but essentially, the minerals in salt can be absorbed through the skin, if applied for long enough.

If neither salt nor sugar appeals, then you have various other options. You can really use anything with a rough (but not too rough!) texture. Here are some ideas:

  • Coffee grounds. Not to be used to excess, though, as caffeine can be absorbed through the skin.
  • Ground nuts or nut shells. You probably know the famous Swiss facial scrub that uses ground apricot shells. Ground almonds are nice, too. If you're grinding nuts or similar, grind them finely in your food processor, to make sure they're not too sharp.
  • Oatmeal or wheat bran. This is a nice gentle option, and oatmeal is softening for skin, too.
  • Seeds. Lots of possible variety here. It can also be nice to add a small scoop of seeds into a scrub made with sugar or salt.
  • For a really gentle exfoliant, try shredded coconut or herbs.

The size of the grain makes a difference, too. For delicate skin, eg for face scrubs, you want to use a finer grain than you would for a body scrub, and for areas of tough skin, such as your heels, you can use an even coarser grain of salt or sugar.

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