The pros and cons of salt for your skin and scalp.
Ordinarily, sea salt can leach moisture out of your skin, just as it does from your hair. But it’s a wonderful exfoliant. “In its raw, crystal form, salt stimulates skin renewal and boosts radiance,” says Idit Gandelman, Global Head of Training at Ahava (a skincare company based on Dead Sea minerals). A handful of coarsely ground salt, mixed with a skin-nourishing oil can slough off dead skin cells, while the oil replenishes moisture.MORE: Weather-Related Hair Emergencies—Solved
If you’re looking for salty skincare that’s also going to moisturize, search labels for products containing Dead Sea salts. “The Dead Sea has a much lower concentration of sodium chloride than normal sea water, and its salts contain a mix of other important minerals, including magnesium, potassium, calcium chloride and bromides,” says Ava Shamban, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. “Using these salts on the skin replenishes minerals that are critical to our skin metabolism.” Mineral-dense Dead Sea salts are also unique in their ability to bring water into the skin—and hold it there—which is what you want if you’re combating fine lines and wrinkles. “The minerals activate an ‘osmotic pump,’ that attracts water and nutrients from the lower layers of the skin up to the outer skin layer, where moisture is needed most,” says Gandelman.
The minerals in salt are also anti-inflammatory, making it a good choice for soothing eczema, psoriasis and even acne. That’s what Alison Carton, founder of the salt-infused anti-acne line Clarisea, found while spending a summer at the beach. “I swam in the ocean every day and my stubborn acne finally started to clear up,” she remembers. So she started experimenting with salt mixtures, finally hitting on the combination mineral-rich Himalayan pink sea salt with sodium chloride-heavy Pacific Ocean salt to dry out her oily acne prone skin just enough and help clear away acne-causing bacteria. “The right percentage of each really cleared up acne without irritating my sensitive skin,” she says.MORE: How To Do An At-Home Skin Peel
The bottom line: You’ve just got to know when to pass the salt…and when to just pass on it.