Quick Question: What’s the Difference Between Salt Scrubs and Sugar Scrubs?

November 10, 2021
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | skincare.com by L'Oréal
Quick Question: What’s the Difference Between Salt Scrubs and Sugar Scrubs?

Salt and sugar scrubs are two common types of mechanical exfoliants. Both may seem similar, but there are a few key differences between them. To find out what they are, plus more about physical exfoliation in general, we consulted with Dr. William Kwan, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco, California. 

The Benefits of Physical Exfoliation

Physical exfoliation involves sloughing away built-up dead skin cells on the surface that can cause a rough texture and dulled complexion. This helps your skin absorb subsequent products better and can help you achieve a brighter, more even complexion. 

The Difference Between Salt Scrubs and Sugar Scrubs

“Salt scrubs tend to boast larger particles that are grittier,” Dr. Kwan says. “Sugar scrubs have smaller particles and tend to be gentler on the skin. [They] are often less drying and less abrasive than salt scrubs.” This is why Dr. Kwan recommends sugar scrubs for sensitive and dry skin types and for use on the face and décolletage.

How to Use Salt and Sugar Scrubs on the Body

The key to successful exfoliation is approaching it with a gentle touch. You never want to rub too harshly, as doing so can wreak havoc on the skin’s surface. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), suggests applying a scrub in small and circular motions and rinsing off with lukewarm water. Follow up with a hydrating lotion.

How to Use Salt and Sugar Scrubs on the Face

Exfoliating can help remove dirt and impurities from your skin’s surface, but it shouldn’t take the place of daily cleansing. Cleanse first and then exfoliate damp skin using light, circular motions. Follow with a hydrating serum and moisturizer.  

Our Favorite Sugar and Salt Scrubs

L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Nourish & Soften Cocoa Face Scrub

Type of scrub: Sugar

Scrub uses: Face

Give your pores a sweet treat with this sugar scrub formulated with finely crushed cocoa, coconut oil and rich cocoa butter. The formula helps reveal smoother, less dull skin.

Lancôme Rose Sugar Scrub

Type of scrub: Sugar

Scrub uses: Face

This scrub is formulated with rose water and glycerin, making it a perfect match for all skin types — whether you have normal, oily, combination or sensitive skin.

Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Body Scrub

Type of scrub: Sugar

Scrub uses: Body

For a super silky finish, the Bum Bum Body Scrub is a must-try. This scrub is formulated with sugar crystals and crushed cupuaçu seeds to exfoliate and nourish the skin.

LUSH Ocean Salt

Type of scrub: Salt

Scrub uses: Face or Body

For a salt scrub that will make you feel like you just came out of the ocean, give this formula  by LUSH a try. It contains coarse sea salt, plus coconut oil and avocado butter to soothe and nourish.

Kopari Exfoliating Crush Scrub With Brown Sugar and Fine Coconut Shells

Type of scrub: Sugar

Scrub uses: Body

Get a velvety skin finish with this sugar scrub infused with coconut and brown sugar. It will leave your skin feeling refreshed and soft, not to mention, it smells addicting.

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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