Skin Perception

Salt Scrub Vs Sugar Scrub: Best Body Exfoliators

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Both salt and sugar scrubs are great for exfoliating body. But do you actually know what are the benefits of using salt or sugar scrub when it comes to exfoliating at home?

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There are so many different ways to exfoliate skin! When it comes to at-home exfoliation, the most important decision you can make is choosing the exfoliating particles. For example, a body scrub can be formulated with one or few of the following abrasives: sugar, salt, coffee, seeds, nutshells, oats, pumice, ground rice, etc. In this article we’ll look at salt scrub vs sugar scrub, benefits of exfoliating body and the best salt and sugar exfoliating products available on the market.

Salt Scrub Vs Sugar Scrub

So, is there a difference between sugar and salt scrubs? Both salt and sugar are natural physical exfoliators that remove dead skin cells from the surface, increase blood circulation, promote cell regeneration, and reveal smooth, glowing complexion.

And they both are considered as water-soluble abrasives. In other words, they dissolve in water unlike other abrasives such as pumice, synthetic beads or seeds. In addition, the coarse texture of salt and sugar is particularly great for body exfoliation.

However, due to the different chemical composition of salt and sugar, there are various benefits to consider when it comes to using salt scrub vs sugar scrub.


Therapeutic, mineral benefits

Anti-aging benefits
More abrasiveMore gentle
More dryingLess drying
Purifying and detoxifyingContains natural glycolic acid
Balances oil productionLocks in moisture
Reduces inflammationN/A
Best for normal, oily, combination skin

Best for mature, sensitive and dry skin types

At a glance:

Salt Body Scrub Benefits

One of the main skincare benefits of salt is its therapeutic properties. In other words, salt is naturally packed with numerous minerals and elements, which are good for your skin.

Secondly, salt has larger particles, which are generally coarser in comparison to smaller sugar particles. That is to say, sharper edges of salt particles make salt scrubs more abrasive as they provide stronger exfoliation than sugar scrubs. Therefore, it is not recommended to use salt scrubs on face or sensitive areas.

In addition, salt has natural purifying and detoxifying properties, which makes it more drying. So it is important to moisturize your skin with a good lotion or hydrating body cream after exfoliating with salt. Also, some of the best salt scrubs will include a blend of hydrating oils to diminish the drying effect.

Among other benefits of using salt scrub vs sugar scrub is the ability to unclogs pores, balance skin oil production, reduce inflammation, improve skin barrier function, help with sore muscle, and antiseptic properties.

In conclusion, salt scrubs are best for exfoliating body and rough skin, and will benefit most those with normal, combination, blemish-prone and oily skin types.

What type of salt should you use?

4 spoons filled with different types of salt

However, not all salt scrubs are the same as different types of salt contain a unique mix of minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, etc. All in all, the properties and therapeutic benefits of the salt will depend greatly on the region where the salt was cultivated.

  • Sea salt undergoes minimal processing and is collected from water through evaporation process. This process allows retaining rich minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium, totaling to 72 minerals and elements found in sea salt. Sea salt comes in many different types based on its origin, for example Mediterranean, Dead Sea, Celtic, Hawaiian, etc.
  • Himalayan salt comes from Himalaya mountains in Pakistan. The color of this salt is usually pink, orange or white depending on the content of minerals. Himalayan salt is being valued more than sea salt due to its higher content of essential elements (84 elements). It is high in iron oxide (which gives it pink hue), copper, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Moreover, it is believed to be the purest form of salt on the planet.
  • Dead Sea salt originates in a very small region in Israel. It is high in magnesium, potassium, bromide, iodine, calcium and sulfate. This salt is known for promoting well-being and relaxation.
  • Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate or “bath salt”, and comes from natural springs in England. Unlike other salts, this salt doesn’t contain sodium, but instead contain high amounts of magnesium, oxygen and sulfur. Its main benefits include soothing inflammation, relieving muscle ache, and reducing stress.

Sugar Body Scrub Benefits

white bowl with brown sugar scrub and lavender

In comparison to salt scrubs, sugar scrubs have less therapeutic benefits, as sugar is not as rich in mineral elements as salt. However, sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid, which has anti-aging properties.

The other beneficial quality of sugar is that it naturally helps to draw in the moisture, so it’s less drying than salt scrubs.

Size wise, sugar granules are smaller and rounder than salt granules, which make sugar scrubs a gentler exfoliator. In addition, sugar melts faster in hot water or warm environment, which also contributes to milder exfoliation.

That being said, sugar scrubs work better for dry, mature and sensitive skin types, as well as delicate skin. Depending on the size and roundness of sugar granules, sugar scrubs can be used on body, face and lips.

What type of sugar should you use?

The type of sugar used in the scrub plays an important role. For instance, the source of the sugar and various processing techniques will result not only in different crystal sizes and color, but also in different texture and moisture level within sugar granules. Nowadays, most sugar is made either from sugar beets or sugar cane, and can be divided into three main categories: raw, brown and white.

  • Raw/unrefined cane sugar, also known as Turbinado, has light golden color and smells and tastes like caramel. This type of sugar has larger crystals and is more abrasive. It will work better for feet and elbows.
  • Brown sugar is very similar to raw sugar, but its crystals are smaller in size. This sugar also has darker brown color, and is stickier in texture since the crystals have more moisture in them.
  • Regular white granulated sugar is also known as refined or table sugar. This type of sugar undergoes through more processing in comparison to raw or brown sugar. As a result, white sugar crystals are smaller, rounder and less abrasive.

FUN FACT: We loose close to a million dead skin cells every 24 hours, which in one year rounds up to 9 pounds of “dead skin dust.”

Best Sugar Body Scrubs

Hopefully, now you understand the difference between salt scrub vs sugar scrub, and you figured out which one will be more beneficial for your skin type. You can make a homemade scrub with few simple ingredients or try one of SkinPerception top recommended body scrubs.

jar of shea-moisture-exfoliating body-scrub
SheaMoisture Illuminating Hand and Body Scrub

Great budget option for normal, aging, dull and dry skin. In addition to fine sugar, this natural scrub is made with a rich blend of oils including coconut, olive oil, jojoba, shea butter, and vitamin E. It leaves skin well hydrated, so you might not even need a body lotion afterwards! Moreover, it has mild firming and toning properties, and it smells amazing.   

Brooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Scrub

This budget friendly and 100% natural scrub is formulated with few single ingredients like fine brown sugar granules, sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, glycerine and jojoba oil. Moreover, it is gentle enough to be used on body, face, feet as well as sensitive skin. In addition to being great natural exfoliator, this sugar scrub also has moisturizing qualities, and comes in few different formulations and scents.

Herbivore-coco-rose-body-polish with sugar
Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish

Detoxifying body polish that is safe for all skin types including sensitive skin. It contains fine sugar, rose clay, Moroccan rose, organic coconut oil, shea butter, antioxidants, and has hydrating, soothing and anti-aging properties. Overall, this all-natural sugar scrub does a great job in addressing skin dryness, dullness and brightening skin tone.

open jar of One-Love-Organics-Vitamin-c-body polish
One Love Organics Vitamin C Body Polish

If you are looking for organic exfoliator this is it. This gentle body polish includes organic ingredients like vitamin C, organic sugar, shea butter, sunflower seed oil, and aloe vera. Not only it improves skin texture, skin tone, and soothes, but also it reveals natural glow.

Purple jar of Lalicious sugar scrub
Lalicious Sugar Lavender Scrub

This luxurious gentle sugar scrub is made with cane sugar, honey and hydrating oil blend of coconut, soybean and sweet almond oils. In addition to providing moisturizing and anti aging benefits, it also promotes relaxation thanks to its delightful lavender scent. But if you are not a big lavender fan, this scrub is also available in 11 other “delicious” aromas.

Biossance enzyme sugar body scrub
Biossance Squalane + Enzyme Sugar Body Scrub

New to the market (spring 2022) all natural and EWG verified body exfoliator designed for all skin types. What makes this product unique is that it includes two exfoliating agents – fine sugar crystals and pomegranate enzymes, which gently dissolve dead skin cells. And the added plant-derived squalane calms the skin in locks in moisture.

Best Salt Body Scrubs

Jar of Goop salt detox body scrub
Goop G.Tox Detox Body Scrub

This intense salt scrub includes mix of 5 salts: Himalayan pink, Dead sea, Celtic sea, New Zealand solar and Epsom salts. In addition to detoxifying benefits, this body scrub also provides hydration. Overall, it’s a great option for dry, aging, and normal skin.

REN Magnesium salt scrub
REN Clean Skincare Atlantic Kelp & Magnesium Salt Scrub

If you are looking for spa-like experience at home this salt scrub targets both body and mind. Moreover, it relieves muscle tension and also moisturizes the skin. This gentle salt scrub is formulated with Epsom and sea salts, Atlantic kelp, rich blend of oils, vitamin C and E, as well as refreshing essential oils.    

Green jar of Asutra Scrub the day away
Asutra Scrub The Day Away

This all natural body scrub is made with finely grounded 100% pure Dead Sea salt that provides gentle exfoliation. Also, it includes moisturizing ingredient like aloe vera, jojoba oil, organ oil and almond oil that leave skin smooth and soft. Moreover, you can choose among several different uplifting scents that come from organic essential oils.

Osea body scrub
OSEA Salts Of The Earth Body Scrub

Luxurious and mineral rich body scrub that includes all natural ingredients like Dead Sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, Bolivian rose salt, as well as hydrating avocado oil, shea butter, sea clay, and vitamin E. Not only it exfoliates without stripping skins natural oils, but also it has anti aging and skin balancing properties. You will love how soft your skin feels!   

Glass jar of Elemis salt glow scrub
Elemis Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow

The tropical scent of this salt body scrub has all the vacation vibes. This luxurious British scrub is enriched with mineral rich salts, antioxidants, deeply hydrating oils and aromatic flowery extracts. In addition to cleansing and exfoliating, it also nourishes the skin leaving it soft and glowing.

Do you know what is the difference between body scrub vs body polish?

Discover mind blowing benefits of body exfoliation >>

Whole body exfoliation is an essential part of skin care routine, which helps to get rid of dead cells and maintain smooth, radiant and healthy skin, prevent ingrown hairs and even out skin tone.


To sum up, both sugar and salt crystals are considered to be great mechanical exfoliants with minimal side effects and a great number of beneficial properties. In general, salt as exfoliating medium will work better for those with clogged, congested, acne-prone, combination, and oily skin.

On the other hand, natural sugars are less drying than salt, and will work better for dry, dehydrated, mature, and normal skin. Regardless of which exfoliating granules you’ll choose, you can enjoy the following added benefits of body exfoliation:

  • soft skin
  • smooth skin
  • natural glow
  • better circulation
  • skin rejuvenation
  • improved cell turnover
  • better absorption of skincare products

Above all, keep in mind that the key to successful body exfoliation is being gentle:

  • gentle hand pressure
  • gentle circular movements/ light strokes
  • gentle exfoliating particles

How to exfoliate your body with salt or sugar scrub

women looking into mirror while exfoliating her body

  Whether you decided to use salt scrub vs sugar scrub, a proper exfoliation technique can significantly enhance the results, and turn your tired and dull skin onto smooth and glowing skin. For the best experience, use body scrubs after taking a hot shower or after taking a bath. This will allow the skin to soften, open up pores and enable a more effective exfoliation.

  Since both salt and sugar crystals dissolve in water, try avoiding direct warm water while exfoliating as it can dissolve grainy particles in your scrub too soon. Applying gentle pressure and small circular motions yield the best results.

  Remember that “less is more” when it comes to exfoliation. That is to say, exfoliating too often or too harsh can cause skin dehydration, dryness, severe irritation, redness or inflammation.

  It is sufficient to exfoliate your body once a week if you have normal, dry, or sensitive skin. Those with oily or combination skin might need to exfoliate twice a week.

  Apply soothing and hydrating products like lotion, cream or body oil right after the procedure, preferably on damp skin. In addition, keep in mind that exfoliated skin is more sensitive to the UV light, so it is important to use sunscreen.

Related: The benefits of using coffee body scrub at home.



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Axe, J. “Sea salt: top 6 essential health benefits.”, Oct. 2018

Brown, A. “Breaking down body scrubs.” Skin Inc., Oct, 2018

How to safely exfoliate at home.” American Academy Of Dermatology

Howard, D. “Skin exfoliation 101.” The International Dermal Institute, Apr. 2019

Miller, S. “Difference between brown sugar & sugar in the raw.”, Dec. 2018

Proksch E, Nissen HP, Bremgartner M, Urquhart C. “Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin.” International Journal of Dermatology, Feb. 2005, Vol. 44

Smith, W.P, Bishop, M, Gillis, G, Maibach H. “Topical proteolytic enzymes affect epidermal and dermal properties.” International Journal Of Cosmetic Science, Feb. 2007, Vol. 29, Issue 1


Sugar 101.” The Sugar Association

Tan, S. “White, brown, raw, honey: which type of sugar is best?” The Conversation, Mar. 2018

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