What’s the difference between salt and sugar scrubs?

I loves me some exfoliation. I have dry skin, and in California, the summer months are friggin’ arid. Lotion alone sometimes isn’t enough to get my skin as baby-soft as I like it.

Enter body scrubs.


Salt is such a fantastic exfoliant for the body, especially those problem areas like feet, knees, and elbows. It also has mild cleansing properties, and can hydrate and soften skin. When combined with oils or butters, it makes, for my money, the best body scrub out there.

Not for use on faces

One really important thing to understand about salt is the shape of its granules. Even the gentlest salt granules can have rough, jagged, or sharp edges. Because of this, salts should never be used on the face.  Facial skin is just too fragile.


Sugar has a gentler, more rounded-shaped granule, which makes it safer for use on faces. In addition to being less abrasive, sugar also contains glycolic acid, which is a natural chemical exfoliant. This means sugar performs double duty! While you’re getting a gentle scrub to slough off dead skin cells, the glycolic acid is doing its chemical thing and breaking down dead skin cells on a molecular level.

Bottom Line

Sugar is my go-to for an all-purpose facial scrub or body scrub. Depending on what I’m formulating it for (exfoliation, moisturization, or cleansing) I’ll add various oils, butters, exfoliating buddies, or specialty treatments.

For summertime feet and elbows, though, I go with salt, salt, and more salt, and always follow up with my shea butter lotion. I love how soft and pink my feet are after this treatment!

What do you love in a body scrub?