Benefits of Sugar Scrubs vs. Salt Scrubs + Which One to Pick

When choosing a scrub for your body, there's always a dilemma - should I go for a sugar or salt scrub?

October 24, 2022 6 minutes read
Woman using sugar body scrub

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Body scrubs provide mechanical exfoliation, physically removing dead skin cells from the skin's surface that can cause your skin to look dull and rough. This exfoliation is possible thanks to the grainy texture of a scrub containing sugar, salt, coffee, or crushed walnut shells. But perhaps, the most popular body scrubs on the market today are sugar and salt scrubs.

And many of us would grab whatever scrub, salt or sugar, we come along without thinking about the benefits each scrub has to provide. Yes, these two types of scrubs are vastly different as they are meant for different body regions.

Today's article will delve comprehensively into these two body scrubs, their pros and cons, and share a detailed guide on making your favorite scrub in the comfort of your home. Ready? Let's go.

Pros and Cons of Using Sugar Body Scrubs

sugar scrub

Sugar scrubs can be made of different types of sugar, such as coconut sugar, brown sugar, or white sugar. Generally, sugar makes for an excellent base for a body scrub, as aside from exfoliating and skin rejuvenating, nutrient-packed sugar nourishes the skin at the same time. Here's a summary of the pros and cons of sugar scrubs:

Pros of Using Sugar Body Scrub

Sugar scrubs are less abrasive: Unlike salt, sugar has smaller particles that are gentler on the skin. Although certain types of sugar, like white pearl sugar, are more coarse than others, sugar is generally less abrasive than salt and is, therefore, suitable for sensitive skin. It can also be used on the scalp and even lips, the most delicate skin on our body.

Sugar scrubs are hydrating: Sugar is a natural humectant, drawing water into the skin and helping it hold onto it. Therefore, it helps keep the skin hydrated, supple, and radiant.

Sugar scrubs contain AHA: Sugar contains glycolic acid, a type of AHA or exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid. So, with sugar scrubs, you get the 2-in-1 type of exfoliation – mechanical and chemical. In addition, glycolic acid is also a powerful humectant.

Sugar scrubs don't sting: Micro-abrasion could sometimes occur when vigorously massaging a scrub on your skin, or you could have had a pre-existing cut before using a scrub. However, unlike salt scrubs, you wouldn't have to endure the ordeal of unpleasant and painful stings with sugar scrubs.

Cons of Using Sugar Body Scrub

Not powerful enough for the rough areas: As mentioned above, sugar is far less coarse than salt. Because of its finer texture and quick melting when in contact with water, sugar scrubs aren't potent enough to scrub the rough skin areas like feet, heels, and sometimes, knees and elbows.

Pros and Cons of Using Salt Body Scrubs

salt scrub

Salt scrubs usually contain sea salt or Epsom salt, having larger granules than sugar scrubs. Thanks to its antiseptic and detoxifying properties, salt is also the favorite ingredient in DIY foot or full-body baths. However, salt scrubs do have their downsides, and here's a short list of their pros and cons:

Pros of Using Salt Body Scrub

Salt body scrubs are best for buffing rougher areas of the body: Salt is coarser than sugar, containing larger and sharper granules. Therefore, it's suitable for scrubbing the dry and flaky skin on your knees and elbows. Also, it's potent enough to deal with the thick and rough skin on the heels.

Salt scrubs act as a skin detoxifier: Epsom salt, as well as Himalayan salt, is chock-full of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals have detoxing properties, drawing out toxins and germs lodged deeply in the pores and decreasing inflammation.

Cons of Using Salt Body Scrub

Salt scrubs can be irritating: Due to their abrasive texture, salt scrubs can be pretty irritating for the more delicate skin. Besides, salt and injuries don't blend well. If you aggressively massage your salt scrub and it causes abrasion on your skin, the salty scrub will sting and, potentially, make the wound worse.

How to Choose the Right Body Scrub

body scrubs in glass jars

Although sugar and salt are both effective ingredients for exfoliation, they serve different parts of the body and skin types better. To choose the best body scrub for you, here are a few factors that can serve as a guide:

Consider your skin type: If you have a generally sensitive skin type, steer clear of salt scrubs, regardless of the type of salt they may contain. Sensitive skin is usually caused by a damaged skin barrier, and mechanical exfoliation with coarse salt can only worsen its condition. So, go for less harsh sugar scrubs instead, and make sure to choose finely ground sugar.

Consider the skin area that needs exfoliation: Sugar scrubs are less abrasive, dissolve in water quickly, and are gentle on the skin. In contrast, salt scrubs are more potent and harsh. So, use sugar scrubs for your legs, arms, face, scalp, and lips; and keep the salt-based ones for thicker areas of the body, such as your feet or elbows.

Consider the frequency of exfoliation: If you crave a weekly therapeutic body scrub after a long day's work, sugar scrubs are the way to go. Since they are milder on the skin, sugar scrubs are the preferred option for more frequent exfoliation.

How to Use a Body Scrub

To avoid over-exfoliating, body scrubs should be used once a week or even less frequently, like once in two weeks. In addition, compared to AHAs or BHAs, physical exfoliation, regardless of the type of scrub used, is generally more challenging for your skin to handle. So, try to follow this body scrub guide to avoid skin damage and make sure your scrubbing routine yields positive results:

How to Make a Sugar and Salt Body Scrub

First of you need to choose the type of sugar or salt. Here are some options for your sugar body scrub:

When it comes to salt scrubs, you have the following options:

Now we can get to the recipe itself. Homemade salt and sugar scrubs can be made with similar ingredients; all you need to change is the exfoliant, which can be the sugar or salt of your choice.

Homemade Sugar & Salt Scrub Recipe

homemade body scrub

Once you decide whether you want to make sugar or salt scrub and choose your preferred exfoliant, it's time to mix in other ingredients. You should add a carrier oil (like almond oil, jojoba oil or avocado oil); some herbs (this is optional but you could add matcha green tea powder, cinnamon, or turmeric powder into the mix); and several drops of your favorite essential oil (like lavender, peppermint, sandalwood, or myrrh essential oil).

You'll need:

  • 1 cup sugar or salt
  • 1 teaspoon herb powder
  • ¾ cup carrier oil
  • 5 to 10 drops essential oil


  1. Pour 1 cup of salt or sugar into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the carrier oil as well as a few drops of essential oil of your choice, then stir the mix.
  3. Sprinkle in any ground herb of your choice.
  4. Stir all the ingredients together thoroughly for a fine blend.
  5. Pour the mix into a cute jar with a lid, and your homemade sugar or salt body scrub is ready.

It would be best to use up your homemade body scrub in one go. However, if you do have some leftovers, store them refrigerated for no longer than seven days.


Both salt and sugar scrubs are effective ingredients for mechanical exfoliation. These two ingredients buff dead cells off the skin's surface, allow for better absorption of your skincare products and contain components that hydrate and nourish the skin.

Nevertheless, compared to each other, they have their advantages and drawbacks. So, to avoid trial and error when choosing the best body scrub for your skin type and needs, follow our comprehensive guide on the pros and cons of sugar vs. salt scrubs.


What do salt and sugar do to your skin?

Salt and sugar are frequent ingredients in body scrubs, exfoliating the skin and giving it a healthy glow. However, sugar is much gentler than salt and is a better option if you have dry and sensitive skin.

Which is better, sugar scrub or salt scrub?

They both have their pros and cons. Sugar is hydrating and has finer particles, making it perfect for exfoliating your whole body. On the other hand, salt has coarse particles and is more effective at exfoliating thicker and rough skin, such as your heels.

Can I mix salt and sugar in a scrub?

If you need a scrub for more sensitive parts of your body, such as your bikini line or lips, we'd suggest using only sugar. But if you need a coarser scrub for softening your elbows and feet, you can mix both salt and sugar, or make an all-salt scrub.

Is salt scrub good for your face?

Generally, we wouldn't recommend using a scrub on your face as it can cause tiny tears and damage your skin's natural barrier. However, if your skin can handle mechanical exfoliation, we suggest exclusively using sugar scrubs on your face and avoiding salt scrubs, as salt is more coarse and sharp.

How do you make a sugar and salt scrub at home?

For making body scrub at home, you'll need 2 cups of your preferred exfoliant, sugar or salt. Mix it with one cup of carrier oil (such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, or olive oil) and several drops of essential oil of your choice, and stir until you get a nice blend.

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