Sugar and Spice Makes the Skin Nice: or….salt and sugar scrubs. Is one better than the other?

Exfoliation. It’s the key to smooth skin, and everyone knows it. As children, our skin cells renew at a faster pace, which is why kids have such smooth, soft and clear skin. However, as adults, the process slows down and we need to help our skin speed up cell turnover rate via exfoliation. Out with the old dead skin and in with the new….. that’s what’ll give us a more youthful glow and helps make-up go on more evenly.

Enter the confusing world of grainy substances! Basically, body scrubs are jars or tubes of gritty particles which sit in a variety of liquid substances, from vegetable oil to honey. They all exfoliate, but the size of the grain, whether it’s salt or sugar and whatever liquid medium is used can have a variety of outcomes. I explored the world of salt and sugar scrubs and found experts and advocates on both sides. But hey, as in food, there are salt addicts as well as sugar addicts. Since I’m addicted to both, I want both kinds of scrubs around for my different needs.

I chatted with Deborah Burnes, a real salt-of-the-earth kind of girl who owns Sumbody Skin Care products. I’ve never met someone who loves salt as much as I do! Finally, a sister in salt who also travels around the world and collects salt of different minerals & colors, from different oceans and of different molecular structure. I use it for my cooking; Deborah has turned her passion into a business and mills her own salt and uses only solar evaporated sea salt in her salt exfoliating products. Her advice is sage as she explains that when using a salt scrub for the face, the salt should be fine, not coarse and the medium it sits in should be a thin oil like grape seed or olive oil. From the neck down, we can use coarse or fine salt but it should be in a heavier medium, like shea or cocoa butter. Some people feel that large salt crystals are too rough, but Deborah explained that water immediately dissolves the rough edges high grade salt and the grains become instantly more circular. Salt can be more drying to the skin than sugar, but the body butters counteract that. If you grew up near the shore, and you got a cut or scrape on your skin, you can probably remember your mother telling you to go into the ocean so it would heal quickly and not get infected. So while, you may not want to use a salt scrub when shaving your legs or on very dry skin, remember that salt helps heal skin wounds and purifies the skin. Deborah is not adverse to sugar scrubs, and has some great ones, but warns that if you have any fungal infections – even a minor red spot under the fold of the breast or back of the knee or crook of the elbow, salt will help get rid of it while sugar will feed it.

I especially loved the Sumbody Coconut Cream Salt Scrub. To be honest, coconut isn’t my favorite scent, but you pina colada lovers will go bananas over it. However, the salt scrub itself was different – and better – than any salt scrub I’ve ever used. The grains were very fine and dissolved quickly. Every other salt scrub I tried had very large, coarse grains which are too rough for my skin. These salt grains were the perfect size and gently exfoliated. For sugar lovers, the Lavender Wave Sugar Scrub is heavenly and smells like your French grandmothers kitchen…….that is, if you have a French grandmother. It too had small, gently exfoliating grains in a base of pistachio oil, cocoa and shea butter which left my skin soft and delicious.

While the grains of sugar exfoliate our skin, sugar cane itself produces glycolic acid, an AHA (alpha hydroxyl acid) which is a natural exfoliant. From our honey of a guy and custom color airbrush spray tanning expert, Santiago, owner of Sundara Tanning, I got more than a spoonful of information about sugar scrubs which he favors. Santiago reminds us that getting salt in your eyes stings. Ouch!

Sugar scrubs can be made from fine granulated sugar, best for the face, or coarser organic, raw sugar which is better for the body. Sensitive and/or dry skin may be less sensitive to sugar than salt and Santiago feels that for those who are using it to prep their skin for sunless tanning, salt might irritate some skin and affect the absorption of a sunless tanning product. Sundara has created a Cane Sugar Body Scrub which is blended with berry’s and mixed with moisturizing oils and butters that smelled delicious and left my skin feeling as smooth as silk. Added bonus was that my whole bathroom smelled berry delicious afterwards!

A sugar scrub with shea butter is a perfect combination. It exfoliates, yet leaves a moisturizing residue. The Klean Smooth-EZ Whipped Sugar Body Polish with Pumpkin is a perfect choice for this time of year. It’s got the strong scent of pumpkin pie but not the calories. It spread nicely on my skin and left it as soft as pie filling. I also tried putting a little on a pumice stone for some extra nitty-gritty action on my feet. Bottom line: foot roughness totally heeled!

The Salt or Sugar verdict? Buy both, use both. Your skin will say thank you!

Sundara 425 West 46th Street, NYC
(Sweet deal: BN readers can have 20% off their entire order by typing in KLEAN_FAMILY in the coupon area at check out!)

1 Comment
  1. Interesting article.. I don’t think I’ve ever read one comparing salt and sugar scrubs with such detail. I’m a fan of sugar scrubs myself, but have yet to try a salt one. Now I’m curious!

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