Exfoliation is arguably the most fun and effective process involved in skin care. Yes, moisturizers and lotions that give your skin a good amount of nourishment are great - but a good exfoliation schedule is the real secret of perfectly smooth skin. Our skin has a regenerative cycle which is about as long as a month, where it sheds its dead cells through the processes of washing, scrubbing, or rinsing. Even if you do not manually (or chemically) exfoliate your skin, the process goes on. However, putting in extra effort helps you ensure that the dead skin cells do not end up building up on your skin and causing it to be dull, greasy, and sometimes bumpy.
When done correctly exfoliation can be a refreshing and amazing skincare step that leaves you feeling great about your skin. However, exfoliation, especially physical exfoliation can go wrong if you do it too harshly or not harshly enough. It is therefore important to pick out a suitable exfoliator whether you choose chemicals, scrubs, or loofahs. Two universal condiments that are used everywhere in the world, namely salt and sugar, are both very popular forms of natural exfoliators. Thanks to their little particles both salt and sugar make up for perfect scrub ingredients. This blog clears you up on the differences, similarities, characteristics, and benefits of both salt scrubs and sugar scrubs.
What Is Scrubbing?
Considering that our main topic for the day is concerning two types of scrubs, it’d be wise to start with the basics and get into what scrubbing really means. Scrubbing refers to one of the most popular methods of exfoliating the skin. It involves rubbing the skin with an abrasive ingredient that is hard enough to feel a little rough when applied to the skin. Scrubs tend to have little particles that are designed to be rubbed onto your skin and take out hardened dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from the pores of your skin.
Scrubbing can technically be done with any material that causes friction on your skin and effectively cleans it. However, there exist certain products that are designed for scrubbing the skin. These may either contain little particles of natural ingredients, or microplastics as their scrubbing agent. Sugar and salt are two popular natural ingredients used in scrubs along with ground coffee and baking soda.
Salts have a grainy texture. They are filled with loads of minerals that are good for the well-being of your skin. Salt scrubs refer to body or feet scrubs containing salt. These may have many different types of salts such as Epsom salt or the Himalayan pink salt. Common salt can also be used, but it has a lower mineral quantity and therefore is not preferred to be put in professional products. However, it is possible to DIY common salt for your preferred needs. Let us look at the pros and cons of salt scrub to better understand its uses.
The Pros of a Salt Scrub
Good For Areas with Hardened Skin
Salt has small-looking particles that have sharp edges. This texture of salt is incredibly helpful in scrubbing a stubborn area of dead skin on your body. This quality of a salt scrub is precisely what makes it desirable for exfoliating one’s feet. The soles of your feet in particular have hardened areas that are difficult to exfoliate. Salt particles work wonderfully to soften one’s feet and get smooth, soft heels.
Other than that, salt’s abrasive nature can be good for exfoliating other areas like your elbows and knees too. Oh, and if you have issues with dark knees, knuckles, or elbows - salt scrubs can come in handy to brighten the skin around that area by removing dirt and tan.
To sum up: although salt scrubs should not be used too harshly in other areas of the body, they do an excellent job in softening areas that are difficult to exfoliate normally.
Excellent Body Scrub
Many people make it a point to exfoliate their face well, especially the areas near their nose. However, people tend to overlook the importance of exfoliation in all other areas of the body. The skin covering these parts may not collect too much dirt if you keep it covered - but it still needs exfoliation to get rid of dead skin cells effectively.
Salt scrubs are cheap, easily available, and provide excellent results. This makes them great for body scrubbing. We recommend that if you are somebody who likes using salts as a scrub, use them once a week during your showers. This will ensure softer skin in the long run.
Rich In Minerals
Be it sodium, magnesium, or iodine - salt has it all. This is relevant because when you are exfoliating, what you are essentially doing is scrubbing off dead skin to make way for new skin. The minerals in salt scrubs can help your skin regenerate faster and boost its resilience. Some salts also have magnesium, which is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that could help soothe your skin.
Look out for the Himalayan Pink Salt in particular, which has a composition of 84 minerals, making it a great addition to your body scrubs. Further, minerals can help your skin age at a slower pace. This prevents early signs of aging.
Few ingredients in the world slough away dead skin cells, dirt, oil, microbes, and whatnots on your skin as effectively salts do. They are excellent detoxifiers for your skin and make sure all that is unwanted on your skin is gone.
With all of these barriers and impurities on your skin detoxified away, your skin has enough capacity to absorb other products. This means that after a good salt scrub, your skin is as good as new - ready to take in the goodness of any other product you would like to use on it such as lotions, serums, moisturizers, or body oils.
The Cons of a Salt Scrub
- Dehydrating - It is true that if you use a mineral-rich salt scrub, this effect might be minimized. However, speaking in consensus, salt scrubs tend to be dehydrating and drying. While they are good for certain stubborn areas, other times they can irritate your skin by taking away its oils and its water content. A good tip to avoid this would be to use a good rosewater mist on your skin after scrubbing away with salts.
- Harsh - As mentioned earlier, salt particles have an abrasive quality. Their edges are sharp and while that is what makes them good exfoliators - overusing them can cause bad consequences. They might increase inflammation and cause microtears in your skin.
- Not for sensitive skin - Sensitive skin has a weak oil barrier on it making it prone to inflammation, drying, and irritation. All of these things make salts extremely unsuitable for sensitive skin. They might worsen the sensitivity and cause allergenic reactions.
- Should not be used on the face - Our face skin is delicate and goes through a lot during the day. The sunrays, the pollution, the dirt - all of it attack your face first. Therefore, it is important to be careful of what you use on your face. Salt is not suitable for the face because of its abrasiveness.
- Should never be used on irritated skin - By irritated skin, we mean that if you have a cut, a wound, a burn, or just an area on your skin that has been feeling a little itchy lately, do not use salt scrubs. Salts are only suitable to use when one’s skin is healthy or hardened with dead skin cells (as is the case with one’s feet soles).
Almost all types of sugars are beneficial for your skin. When we talk about sugar scrubs, we do not necessarily mean all kinds of naturally occurring sugars. Instead, we talk of sugars that are usually used as ingredients in foods and beverages. In fact, did you know that many sugar scrubs are edible?
Sugar particles are small, refined, and have round edges. This means that along with being hydrating sugars make up for scrubs that are relatively milder yet effective. Whether it’s white sugar, raw sugar, or brown sugar - all of its kinds can be used for different purposes.
The Pros of a Sugar Scrub
Sugars are natural humectants composed of a common Alpha-hydroxy acid called glycolic acid. This means that they attract water to your skin surface on application. When you use a sugar scrub you are getting rid of the built-up debris on your skin while also leaving little particles of sugar on your skin. This results in an increased quantity of water in your upper skin layer making your skin feel soft, elastic, radiant, and plump.
For best results, we recommend you use a rose face mist right after you use a sugar scrub on your face. Not only does this remove your tan, get rid of blackheads, and brighten your skin, but it ensures that rose face water penetrates your skin layers, even more than it usually would, to optimize hydration on your skin.
Suitable For Face and Lips
When it comes to the face, a major concern arises with mechanical exfoliation. Many scrubs tend to be way too rough for sensitive and soft face skin and may cause microtears or irritation.
Sugars, more commonly brown sugar which has a softer texture than white and raw sugar, are the recommended and preferred natural scrub material for more sensitive areas. This is because sugars are hydrating in nature and have round edges that are not harsh on your skin.
Lips are an area of our body that requires exfoliation but does not necessarily get it optimally. Sugars make up for a good lip scrub as they don’t just get rid of the accumulated dead skin cells on your lips, but also hydrate your lips. This leads to soft, smooth, and hydrated lips that are ready to step into the harsh world. We recommend you use a natural oil (such as coconut or olive) on your lips right after a good lip scrub. You will be delighted by the results.
Relatively Suitable for Dry and Sensitive Skin
Exfoliation becomes the trickiest for people who have very dry skin or sensitive skin. These skin types tend to have little to no lubrication on their surface. This makes them prone to be hurt, inflamed and irritated by scrubbing, simply because it is too much friction.
Because of the hydrating qualities sugars possess, this harsh effect of scrubbing is minimized. This makes it a more suitable choice for exfoliation for dry and sensitive skin, granted that necessary precautions are taken beforehand.
May Help Get Rid of Ingrown Hair
Ingrown hair can be quite annoying, especially on the face. Luckily, if your skin is not too sensitive, sugar scrubs can help you! Scrubbing in circular motions in the areas where you have the most facial hair might be effective in getting rid of hair that you are unable to get to otherwise.
Sugar particles are small enough to enter your pores (which are essentially just hair follicles) and scrubbing just the right amount pulls out hair that is grown inside. Sugar scrubbing is recommended by many before shaving so that your ingrown hair is softened and skin more hydrated. Moreover, sugar may also be helpful in de-tanning and brightening the pigmented areas of your skin.
The Cons of a Sugar Scrub
- Less abrasive - The less abrasive quality of sugar somehow ends up being both a pro and a con. While this is what makes it suitable for your face, sugar cannot be used to scrub the tougher areas of your skin such as feet soles.
- Can still cause microtears - Just because sugar is relatively milder on your skin does not mean that it can be used in unchecked frequencies. Sugar scrubs are at the end of the day still scrubs that cause friction on your skin and can cause microtears and irritation.
- Might contribute to aging - Some studies have shown that while exfoliation is excellent at getting rid of dead skin cells from the surface, overusing it might cause your skin to age prematurely. The logic behind this lies in the fact that exfoliation speeds up skin regenerative processes and as a result, it speeds up aging. Since sugar scrubs seem milder to people, they are much easier to be overused and may have this effect in the long run.
- Does not have that many minerals - This con comes when you compare salt and sugar scrubs. Sugar can indeed exfoliate, clean, and hydrate. But it is also true that it does not have the minerals that salt does and therefore does not nourish your skin with too many nutrients.
The Difference? What is Better for YOU?
If you have thoroughly read the benefits and disadvantages of both types of scrubs, it might be obvious to you what is more suitable for you. Here is a general gist of differences and suitable uses of both sugar and salt scrubs for a better understanding: -
The most basic difference between sugar scrubs and salt scrubs is their differentiated texture. Salts have sharp edges, while sugars have rounded edges. This is not to say that certain salts cannot be softer and certain sugars (such as raw unrefined sugar) cannot be rougher; however, this is uncommon. The general idea is that salt scrubs are intended for more stubborn areas on your skin while sugar scrubs are intended for areas that need something less harsh.
Suitable Skin Types
Because of their differentiated texture, sugar scrubs and salt scrubs tend to be more suitable for certain skin types and areas of the body. Here is a gist of how and where to use sugar scrubs and salt scrubs:
- If you have normal to oily skin, both salt scrubs and sugar scrubs may be suitable for you. Salt scrubs would make a great body scrub, while sugar particles would make up for facial and lip scrubs. However, both of these scrubs should not be overused in unchecked frequencies.
- If your skin is dry, sugar scrubs are more suitable for your needs. Though they are not as abrasive, if used correctly they can make up for a good body scrub too. The hydrating quality of sugar scrubs avoids the kind of friction salt scrubs could have on dry skin.
- For sensitive skin, mechanical exfoliation, in general, is not suitable. Because physical exfoliation involves rubbing, scrubbing, and lots of force, it can harm sensitive skin and cause terrible results. However, if you had to choose between salt or sugar scrubs, the latter is more suitable given that you mix it with lots of oil and scrub in circular motions. Always do patch tests first and oil your skin beforehand if you want to exfoliate.
Mineral And Cleansing Properties
A distinct quality of salt scrubs is the rich mineral quantity they leave behind on your skin after exfoliation. Minerals are helpful for the resilience of your skin. Additionally, salts are amazing cleansers that are sure to get dirt and microbes out of your skin pores.
While sugars do provide a great scrubbing for the skin which results in the scraping away of dead skin cells and dirt, it does not actively clean your skin. Neither does sugar boast the number of minerals salt scrubs have.
Sugar scrubs and salt scrubs have an opposite effect on your skin when it comes to hydration. Sugars leave your skin feeling more hydrated and plumper. Salts on the other hand tend to wash away the water content on your skin along with the impurities. As a result, after using either scrub, you are likely to prefer sugars because they make your skin feel really good afterward.
This is not to say that the effect of salt scrubs cannot be countered with good hydrating lotions, moisturizers, or natural rose face water; instead, it just says that you have to be careful when you use salt scrubs if dehydrated skin is a problem for you.
The Main Takeaway
Exfoliation is a crucial part of skincare that cannot be ignored. Scrubbing (or another form of exfoliation) at least once a week is generally a good practice to improve the appearance and texture of your skin. Therefore, natural scrubs made of both salt and sugar can be a useful addition to your skincare regime.Neither salt scrubs nor sugar scrubs prove to be the best ultimate scrub option for all skin types. They have their own sets of amazing advantages and not-so-amazing disadvantages. Depending on your skin type, needs, and the parts of your body you are looking to scrub, either may be suitable for your personal use.