Beauty experts sing the praises of salt , skin


By Samantha Critchell


Beach beauty has an almost endless appeal — a little sun, a little surf, a little sand, a little salt. That’s right, salt.

While there’s an ongoing crusade by the likes of first lady Michelle Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reduce the amount of salt people ingest, the beauty industry is promoting the benefits of using salt externally.

Salt has been used as a skin scrub “since practically the beginning of time,” said Allure magazine Editor-in-Chief Linda Wells. “It’s something that’s a great exfoliant. And it feels really good on the skin. There’s also relaxing bath salts, Epsom salt — you can just soak in those — and they have an anti-inflammatory effect. It’s good if you’re feeling puffy.”

Lush, a botanical-heavy beauty brand, reports salt products to be a consistent best-seller. The appeal lies in effective skin-smoothing scrubs as well as the soft suppleness that’s left afterward, said Erica Vega, a Lush educational trainer.

“There’s a softness to the skin after using salt, but not a greasy softness. If in the winter you want to pack on the moisturizer, in the warmer weather you want to try salt, which isn’t drying,” Vega said.

Vega encourages ocean-inspired combinations, such as a bath product that mixes salt with seaweed and coconut oil.

Lush’s salt — a coarse one for exfoliating and a finer one for replenishing minerals — comes straight from the coasts of Spain and Portugal. “We collect it from the ocean in pans, let the water evaporate and take the salt,” Vega said. “It’s so simple.”

Beauty company Ahava gets its salt from the Dead Sea, but it’s not just the salt, which has a comparable look and feel to rock salt, that’s important, said Dawn DiOrio, the brand’s national education director. The minerals from the unique water and mud there play a role, too.

“Now, the Dead Sea is basically like a lake, but it has all the minerals of its original form of a millennium ago,” she said. “There’s 10 times more saline than any other salted body of water.”

The water there has an almost oily texture, and it doesn’t drip — instead it sticks to the skin and glistens, DiOrio said.

Minerals from the Dead Sea, including magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium, are all believed to be soothing and relaxing. The minerals also send a message to skin cells to regenerate.

For Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, it’s the texture of the salt — maybe not its origin — that’s the key. “When you use a fine-grade salt in a scrub, it scrubs in a gentle kind of way. It helps to cleanse and shed dead skin cells, and it balances with oil so it’s scrubbing and moisturizing at the same time.”

You can do things with salt that you couldn’t do with, say, sugar, another popular scrub ingredient, Price said. Salt will work as a better cleanser — just don’t use it on the face, where the skin is too delicate. “You need the right grade salt. You want to polish, not scratch. As a consumer, even if a product said ‘sea salt,’ you should test and touch. You want to rub your fingers through it and make sure if feels soft.”

Salt-based beauty products are also very stable and have a long shelf life since, again, unlike sugar, it doesn’t dissolve, Price said.

Massage a salt scrub in a circular motion, she suggests, paying particular attention to elbows, heels and feet. “I can’t decide if a salt scrub is invigorating or relaxing. … But the texture of the salt penetrates deeper than a washcloth and it just feels so good,” Price said.

Two homemade salt scrub “recipes” from Allure:

Recipe 1

1 cup almond, sesame, olive or vegetable oil;

1 cup kosher, table or Epsom salt;

Heat oil in microwave for 45 seconds. Consistency should be like a paste; add or lessen salt accordingly.


Recipe 2

1 lemon;

Coarse sea salt;

Cut lemon in half, sprinkle salt over each half. Grind salt-covered lemons into elbows, heels and knees. — AP