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What Is a Salt Glow?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 21, 2024
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A salt glow is a spa treatment meant to smooth skin through exfoliation. Done at spas or at home, salt glows use coarse grains of mineral or sea salt to scrub away dead skin. A salt glow treatment can be done on its own for fast results, or as part of a battery of treatments meant to improve skin.

Salt-based body scrubs can use a variety of ingredients to enhance the treatment. In addition to the exfoliating salt, many formulas contain essential oils to help apply the mixture smoothly, as well as to add fragrance and prevent the over-drying of skin through exfoliation. Lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus are all common additives found in salt glow treatments.

In a spa setting, a client will typically wear a swimsuit or be nude to receive salt scrub treatments. A spa technician rubs the mixture onto exposed areas of the body, scrubbing gently to slough away dead skin. Some spa treatment facilities include a shower system mounted onto the table that allows the scrub to be washed away while the client relaxes. In other spas, clients may be directed to a shower and asked to rinse off after the treatment is completed. It is important not to use soap or shower gel when rinsing off a salt glow, as this will wash away the oil residues that are intended to improve the skin’s look, feel, and moisture level.

To create an at-home salt scrub experience, look no further than the pantry. Mix about 4 ounces (115 grams) of table salt with a few heaping spoonfuls of honey and extra virgin olive oil. Rub this mixture into the skin and allow it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing off. Honey and olive oil have been used in beauty treatments for thousands of years, while the lack of additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients may lower the risk of allergic reactions.

Many experts recommend that shaving or waxing be avoided before undergoing a salt glow, as the coarse grains of salt may irritate sensitive skin. Be certain to rub in the mixture firmly but gently, and be sure to inform a spa technician if the treatment hurts or itches. If a salt scrub is being given as part of a set of treatments, it will likely be followed by an application of moisturizer, massage oil, or body butter. When doing a salt scrub at home, consider rubbing a gentle moisturizer on after rinsing the salt off.

Does a Salt Glow Body Treatment Help With Acne?

According to Dr. Clare Chang, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, "There's limited evidence in the scientific literature about sea salt's benefits, and there have been no studies on its benefits for the treatment of acne.” On the other hand, there are personal anecdotes that say a salt glow treatment using sea salt — which contains minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium in addition to the sodium found in all salt — may do some good for your skin.

When a salt glow, also called a salt scrub, is applied to areas of your body where you have acne breakouts, the salt can absorb excess oil, which is often a precursor to acne. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce the redness and any pain you may experience as a result of your acne.

The salt glow must be applied very gently to acne breakouts to avoid excessive dryness, skin irritation and small tears in the skin that can lead to more acne forming. Dr. Mona Gohara, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, recommends that rather than a salt glow treatment being used on acne, a sea salt-infused mist should be applied once a day to absorb the oil on your skin.

Does Salt Glow Plump up Skin?

As with any exfoliating agent, a salt glow removes old, dead skin cells, clears pores, and paves the way for new skin cells to form. Think of it like sandpaper; you’re gently removing all the rough parts of your skin, making it smoother and more polished. It can dramatically improve the texture of your skin, visibly improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, make your pores look smaller and leave your skin looking plump and renewed.

It’s important to be extremely cautious when you use a salt glow on your face. Use a finely ground sea salt product and rub very gently into your skin. This isn’t the time to DIY; use a commercial product that contains hydrating agents both to protect your skin and improve its appearance.

What Are the Major Benefits of Salt Glow Treatments?

  • Exfoliation to get rid of old, flaking skin, revealing new, smoother skin
  • Removal of those old skin cells to make your skin look less unhealthy
  • Promotion of blood flow for more lustrous, rosy-looking skin
  • Tightening and increased firmness of your skin to make you look younger
  • Hydration of your skin that helps plump it up and reduce wrinkles
  • Clearing of pores to decrease inflammation and acne
  • Reviving tired skin so you look renewed 

Why Should You Use a Salt Glow Instead of a Sugar, Coffee or a Mechanical Tool Scrub?

Salt, sugar and coffee are all mechanical exfoliants. They can be gentler on your skin than chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, gluconolactone, lactobionic acid and salicylic acid — which is commonly used to treat acne.

Salt and Sugar

Salt scrub treatments not only exfoliate your skin, they also pull out any toxins in your body and calm inflammation. Sugar scrubs only exfoliate. Salt is a stronger exfoliant than sugar, and is ideal for use on tougher skin such as your elbows, knees, and feet. If you want a gentle exfoliant, pick the sugar scrub. If you want a more thorough exfoliant, a detoxification agent, and an anti-inflammatory experience, choose the salt glow treatment.

Salt and Coffee

A coffee scrub exfoliates, improves your circulation, and helps your skin become more uniform in appearance. It can also reduce any stretch marks you may have and give you glowing skin. Coffee scrubs are said to work well reducing the uneven skin of cellulite and varicose veins. They also give you healthier, younger-looking skin. With salt scrubs, however, you can control the scent of your scrub with essential oils. If you don’t want your skin to smell like coffee all day, you should definitely choose a salt glow treatment.

Salt and Tools

Exfoliant tools include brushes, sponges, washrags and loofahs. While salt glow treatments are done only once a week to avoid skin damage, exfoliant tools can be used daily. Ole Henriksen Spa master therapist Briony Behets recommends dry brushing, saying, “A dry brush treatment doesn’t just exfoliate, it stimulates vascular and lymphatic activity for health. It also enhances overall health benefits like improving circulation, helping relax sore muscles, and improving the appearance of cellulite by breaking down toxic body deposits and the distribution of fat deposits,”

Salt glow treatments have many benefits, including exfoliating your skin, drawing out toxins, and reducing inflammation. They should be a part of your weekly skincare regimen.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for BeautyAnswered. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
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Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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