Salt vs Sugar Scrubs: Which One You Should Use

Sugar SCrub

Have you ever had a spa scrub (or used a scrub from a bath and body store)? There’s something just absolutely heavenly about the way you feel. Personally, I’m lucky to have a friend that’s an organic aesthetician, so I get a professional quality scrub absolutely every opportunity I get. After all, sugar and salt scrubs are natural exfoliates that not only make your skin feel soft and smooth, but they also open your pores so that you skin can do what it’s supposed to do – Get rid of nasty toxins and prevent your body from infection.

However, sometimes our schedules don’t mesh – We’re both self-employed, which can get a little hectic. Lucky for me, it’s super easy to make sugar and salt scrub yourself (I’ll post a couple of super basic anyone-can-do-this recipes at the bottom of this article so you can see for yourself). So when I can’t make it in to visit a professional, I can still get (completely organic!) professional quality care at home.

It did occur to me, though that not everyone knows which scrub to use when – or why for that matter – which spawned the idea for this article. So here’s the difference between them, plus a few recipes you can easily follow to make and start using your very own! Trust me – You’ll love how you feel when you’re finished exfoliating.

You Already Have A Walnut/Apricot Shell Exfoliate, Right?

That’s all well and good if all you want to do is exfoliate. But if you’re looking for something that’s really going to take your skin to the next level as far as a glow is concerned, these are what you want.

Because salt and sugar scrubs naturally dissolve while you’re using them, they actually gradually morph into a polish while you’re exfoliating your skin, perfecting it to a whole other degree!

Not to mention that most of the apricot/walnut shell exfoliates that you buy at the grocery store are loaded with all kinds of parabens and other things you probably don’t want to be absorbed through your skin. I assure you that after using one or more of these scrubs just once, you’ll throw out whatever you’ve been using to that point.

So What’s The Difference?

Which one is the right one to use? Well, the answer is that it depends on what area you’re focusing on:

scrubSalt Scrubs

First of all, if you’re going to use a salt scrub you’re going to want to make sure that it’s been made with some sea salt – Table sale is absolutely useless here (in addition to – you know – everywhere else).  Sea salt helps draw toxins from your body and can act as an anti-inflammatory if you suffer from sore muscles.

Because the edges of sea salt granules are relatively sharp, the scrubs are pretty strong exfoliates and should be reserved for the dryer areas of your body – Your elbows, heels, legs, knuckles, etc. Stay away from any sensitive areas with a salt scrub and avoid using it altogether if you have any skin abrasions unless you’re ready to deal with a lot of stinging.

scrub1Sugar Scrubs

Sugar scrubs can be made with table sugar and unrefined sugar. Table sugar granules are rounder than sea salt, making them perfect for use on the face and other sensitive areas on your body. It makes a great mild scrub since it dissolves quickly in water, leaving your skin feeling super soft.

If you’d like an extra special treat the next time you’re in the bath, exfoliate your skin with some brown sugar scrub (recipe to follow) – The smell is absolutely divine and will linger on your skin (and in your washroom) for hours.

Unrefined cane sugar is slightly more abrasive than table sugar. However, it’s still not as irritating to your skin as a salt scrub can be – It can be used all over your body to keep it soft and smooth, but you should avoid using it on your face (especially if you have sensitive skin).

How Often Should You Use Them?

Again – It really depends. A sugar scrub can be used two or three times a week if you’d like since it’s not very abrasive, but you should use a salt scrub no more than once a week to avoid irritating your skin.

Now that you know what they’re really for and when to use them, here are a few recipes you can make yourself so that you can start polishing your skin to perfection as soon as today:

Powdered Sugar

Take your favorite oil (coconut, almond, jojoba, olive, etc.) and put some powdered sugar (also known as icing sugar). If you don’t happen to have any, all you need to do is put some granulated table sugar into a food processor for a minute or two). Add a touch of your favorite flavored extract or essential oil if you’d like (completely optional, but some carry some pretty incredible benefits themselves). Massage the paste into your lips for a minute and then lick it off – Your lips will be incredibly smooth.

scrub2Table Sugar

Have a banana lying around in the kitchen that’s too brown to eat? Great! You can make it into a sugar scrub that will make your skin feel and smell amazing when you’re finished using it!

Mash the banana in a bowl (leave it more on the chunky side, add two or three tablespoons of granulated sugar, some vanilla extract, or your favorite essential oil (again – Optional, but worth it. Do your homework). When you shower, pat and massage the mixture all over your body, then rinse off with warm water. Strawberries also work, especially if you want a more abrasive exfoliate.

Brown Sugar

This one is hands down my favorite – It smells amazing (even for hours after using it), and it can actually be eaten (and really isn’t half bad in coffee). Simply mix equal parts of the natural oil of your choice (I use coconut, of course) and brown sugar, add a little vanilla and enjoy your ride to scent heaven.


I don’t actually use salt scrubs at home usually – The sugar scrubs seem to work just fine for me and smell good enough that I have no reason to stray from them.

That said, here’s an amazing-sounding lavender salt scrub from Queenie and the Dew that’s sure to help you relax after a stressful day.

Alternatively, if you need a salt scrub that’s going to energize you after a particularly busy day, after a particularly hard workout or something that’s going to help you get going in the morning, mix equal parts of sea salt and your favorite oil and add at least 1Tbsp of orange, lemon, and/or lime zest (1Tbsp total, not each).

These recipes will not only make your skin happy, they’ll also make your bank account happy (The average scrub goes for around $30)!

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Shanda de Vries
With over 15 years of dedication to the realms of fitness and beauty, Shanda stands as a beacon of expertise and passion. Her journey began more than a decade and a half ago, and since then, she has amassed a wealth of knowledge in the beauty sector, becoming a trusted figure for countless individuals. But Shanda's expertise doesn't stop at beauty alone. Recognizing the intrinsic link between nutrition and overall well-being, she has dedicated herself to understanding the nuances of dietary needs, especially in relation to specific ailments.


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