The pros and cons of salt for your skin and scalp.

You’re probably well-versed in the perils of having too much salt in your diet. But what about in your beauty products? It seems that for every crop of creams, scrubs and lotions that proudly include the ingredient—along with promises to soothe, smooth and moisturize your skin—there’s an equally large selection that loudly proclaim their salt-free status. So is it a little salt in your beauty arsenal something to seek out or avoid? It all depends on what beauty issue you’re trying to address.

Salt in Your Hair: Pros and Cons

There’s no doubt that salt can dehydrate your hair. Just picture how your strands after a beach vacay—chances are, your hair feels a bit brittle and lackluster. “Ordinary sea salt—which is the same as the salt you have in your kitchen cupboard—is made up mostly of sodium chloride, and that can be drying,” explains Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale University School of Medicine.

QUIZ: Is Your Body Skin Healthy?

And yet, you’ll find sodium chloride listed on the ingredients label of many hair products, where it’s actually used to add thickness to the liquid. The amounts probably aren’t enough to do any serious harm. But if you have a curl-relaxing keratin treatment (also known as a Brazilian Blowout), you do need to carefully avoid using salt on your hair—it’ll break down the keratin and wreck the results of your treatment. Many natural hair care lines are already salt-free (like Alterna and Pureology) and others have been created specifically for the keratin-treatment market (like Rusk Deepshine Smooth Keratin Care).

For the same reason it can dry out strands, salt can also be a fantastic treatment for oily scalp and dandruff. Julie Ebner, owner of JuJu Salon & Organics in Philadelphia, recommends completing this DIY salt treatment on your scalp weekly.

DIY Salt Treatment


  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 handful shampoo
  • conditioner
  1. Mix a tablespoon of salt into a handful of shampoo
  2. Massage well into scalp
  3. Rinse thoroughly and follow with regular shampoo and conditioner.


“The salt will help absorb excess oil, unclog follicles stopped up with sebum and product gunk and reduce the inflammation associated with dandruff and psoriasis on the scalp,” explains Ebner.

  • 1 of 2