Salt vs Sugar: Is your exfoliator scrubbing you up the wrong way?

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 24 - 2013

When it comes down to it, most body scrubs are pretty low-tech.  A DIY recipe generally involves little more than a simple pairing of an abrasive ingredient with a moisturising agent, et voila!  Body scrub.

It’s all about the exfoliation.

That unmistakable pleasure/pain(!) of scrubbing your skin and physically sloughing off the dead skin cells that clog the surface layer whilst removing grease and other impurities.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  And let’s not forget some of the other benefits of exfoliation which include prepping your skin to welcome moisturiser, self-tan, and masks whilst an increased blood circulation brings a healthy glow to some oft’ neglected areas.

While there are truly limitless moisturising agents available in which to suspend those wonderful exfoliating particles… it’s the hard-working scrubby bits that I’m talking about today.  In particular, the two most commonly found abrasives.

Salt and Sugar.

Salt vs Sugar: Is your exfoliator scrubbing you up the wrong way?

Salt vs. Sugar

Perhaps you’ve never even considered why you might choose one ingredient over the other.  What are the differences between them and why should you even care?

Read on, and I’ll tell you all you need to know for the next time you’re thinking of making a purchase…

Salt vs Sugar

The major difference between the two is simple; scrubbiness.

Salt is more abrasive and dissolves more slowly than sugar when it comes into contact with water.  Salt is usually the preffered ingredient in scrubs marketed toward a male consumer as it’s presumed that our menfolk prefer a more vigourous scrub!  And because of its slow-dissolving nature, it’s also the scrub ingredient of choice in many spas and other professional places that offer treatments involving manual exfoliation.

Some salts – such as Himalayan and Dead Sea Salt – are also revered for their “healing” properties thanks to a particularly high mineral content.  These are generally considered to have greater therapeutic properties than their sugar counterparts and as a result can be more expensive to incorporate into a finished product.

Salt scrubs should never be used on the face, or indeed any delicate part of the body.  However, feel free to go crazy with them on calloused feet and enjoy stepping out in sandals again with confidence.

Salt vs Sugar: Is your exfoliator scrubbing you up the wrong way?

Four lovely sugar and salt-based body scrubs to get your skin glowing!


Elemis Sp@ Home Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow* (£36.50,

Soap & Glory Flake Away (£7.50,


Organic Surge Million Dollar Brown Sugar Body Polish* (£32 £8 on sale!,

Marshmallow Blends Lemon Sherbet Sugar Scrub Cubes* (£6,

Sugar vs Salt

If like me, you’re a more sensitive soul… sugar scrubs will still give you a great manual exfoliation, sloughing away rough skin and leaving behind a smooth surface that begs to be stroked!  Not only is sugar less abrasive than its salty counterpart but it also reacts more kindly to any shaving cuts you may have accrued on your legs, salt stings!

You may also find that during application, sugar scrubs are a little easier to tame.  Salt-based scrubs tend to have less “stick” to the skin… particularly if the salt to base ratio is high.  Sugar, by its very nature, is a lot “stickier” and easier to work into the skin for some hardcore body-pampering.

When all is said and done, the difference between salt and sugar mostly comes down to personal choice and how sensitive your skin is to begin with.  Me?  I adore the therapeutic properties of a good old-fashioned bath salt but I prefer my scrubs to be a little sweeter!

Do you have a preference between sugar or salt-based crubs?

* press sample

10 Responses to “Salt vs Sugar: Is your exfoliator scrubbing you up the wrong way?”

  1. Halima says:

    The tight wad I am, I make my own. It doesn’t involve sugar nor salt.

    I bought this huuuuge bottle of Vitamin Powder from Holland & Barrett, mix it with olive oil and voila! It feels a lot different to salt and sugar. My skin appears to look quite clear when I’ve used the Vitamin C.


  2. Lily says:

    I make my own with course, granulated sugar (the non-bleached stuff) and love it. It doesn’t dissolve as quickly as the super fine, bleached kind. It’s a happy medium between fine, bleached salt sugar and salt :)

  3. Kelly says:

    I neeeeeeeed the Elemis one, roll on payday!

    Otherwise my bathroom is mainly sugar (Mrshmallow Blends too :) )

  4. I tend to prefer sugar scrubs, not because they’re less abrasive but because I have a terrible habit of biting off my cuticles which give me tonnes of little cuts on my finger and salt really stings them :(
    I’ve just started making my own which acts as a moisturiser too.

  5. m says:

    I just want to say I appreciate your incorporation of press samples into an interesting blog post rather than just cooing over them like some bloggers…

  6. Emily says:

    I prefer salt if I’m making my own because sugar dissolves WAY too fast for me (though I’m a sucker for the smell of brown sugar scrubs). Usually just salt, olive oil, and a couple drops of 70% glycolic acid.

  7. […] Lipglossiping – asks the all important question: Salt or Sugar? Is your exfoliator scrubbing you up the wrong way? […]

  8. […] Lipglossiping – asks the all important question: Salt or Sugar? Is your exfoliator scrubbing you up the wrong way? […]

  9. […] Lipglossiping – asks the all important question: Salt or Sugar? Is your exfoliator scrubbing you up the wrong way? […]

  10. I like them both for different reasons but as you know I like friction! It also depends what kind of base it is suspended in and I prefer a gel one, again for more friction.

    But all scrubs have their place in the world! 😀

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