Salt vs Sugar Scrub: What is the difference and which one to pick

Written by Sumona BoseJun 08, 2021

When it comes to the face, chemical exfoliants have taken the lead as the go-to option for sloughing off dead skin cells. But when it comes to the body, the old-school approach is still popular among many. This is because most AHA and BHA infused products can be quite pricey, leaving those on a budget to rely on the two major kinds of physical exfoliators for the body - salt and sugar scrubs. These kitchen ingredients can be used as DIY and or OTC products and offer surface exfoliation of dead skin cells with the help of fine grits present in them. But what exactly is the difference between the two and which one should you be using; here are the details that will help you make the pick…

Salt scrub

Among the two, salt is more commonly used in scrubs. Salts are rich in mineral and contain anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits. They are also rich in compounds like magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins A and C. However, salt granules are larger and can be quite abrasive in nature. They are best used on areas of the body where the skin is more dryer like the knees, feet, elbows and legs.

Sugar scrub

Sugar scrubs, on the other hand, are often combined with natural and fatty oils and tend to be quite hydrating in nature. When combined with coconut oil, the most popular way of exfoliating with sugar, it acts as a humectant to trap moisture in your skin while exfoliating at the same time. The grit particles of sugar are more uniform and smaller in size, thus are more gentle on your skin as compared to salt scrubs. A major side effect often seen with excessive use of sugar scrubs is that the glycated proteins in them can accumulate on your skin and lead to ageing signs. This is why both, salt and sugar scrubs, are recommended to be used at most once or twice a week.


The best way to choose the right kind of scrub for your skin type is to assess your skin’s sensitivity and needs. Like we said, salt scrubs can be quite drying in nature so make sure you are not using already dehydrated and tired skin. Any kind of physical exfoliant is not recommended to be used on broken, sun-damaged, inflamed or cracked skin. Also, look for scrubs with finer granules to minimise any physical abrasion. Some of the popular salt and sugar scrub recipes are -

  1. Detoxifying salt scrub for oily skin - An effective salt scrub that can be used on greasy summer skin can be made by mixing refined salt, neem powder, two to three drops of basil or tea tree oil and a carrier oil like olive or grapeseed oil. Use the scrub immediately or store in a tight glass jar and use within three to four days.
  2. Hydrating sugar scrub for stressed skin - A good way to exfoliate and soothe stressed skin is to mix fine-grit sugar, green tea powder, two to three drops of lavender essential oil and avocado oil to make the mix soft.  Use the scrub immediately or store in a tight glass jar and use within three to four days.