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Salt scrubs versus sugar scrubs: When to use each

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Exfoliate with sugar and spice and everything nice

You've likely noticed that the beauty aisle is chock- full of both sugar and salt scrubs. Some of the products sound pretty gourmet, too. With delicious-smelling ingredients like sugar cane, cocoa butter, sea salt and lavender oil, it seems like these ingredients are a better fit for a bakery than an exfoliating scrub.

Thankfully, I've resisted the urge to taste-test these yummy concoctions, but they've certainly got me thinking. What's the difference between sugar and salt scrubs, anyway? I caught up with Dr. Marina Peredo, clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, to find out.

The word on the street: Size matters

According to Peredo, the main difference between sugar and salt scrubs is the size of the exfoliating granules. "Generally, sugar particles are smaller than salt particles, making them less abrasive on the skin," she explained. "Sugar scrubs are best for people with sensitive skin, and they're also preferable to use on the face instead of salt scrubs, since coarse salt granules can irritate delicate skin."

OK, cool. But if sugar scrubs are best for the face and otherwise sensitive skin, what are salt scrubs used for? According to Peredo, the coarser texture of salt is ideal for buffing away thick, rough patches of skin like calloused elbows, knees and feet. "Salt also has many healing and antiseptic properties, which can kill bacteria and reduce inflammation," she added. Use it on dry and rough skin for an invigorating glow — just keep it away from your face.

Sugar and salt scrubs to try now

So now that you know the importance of size, head to the store to try out one of these fabulous scrubs for lustrous skin.

Sugar and salt scrubs

  • TastyFace Organics Tahitian Vanilla Lime Sea Salt Body Scrub. According to SheKnows Beauty Editor Catherine Conelly, this scrub "smells like a margarita so it takes your mind to happy places!" She prefers, and I quote, to use it on her feet so she doesn't smell like a tequila shot. (tastyfaceorganics.myshopify.com, $21)
  • Yes To Coconut Polishing Body Scrub. Need hydration? Check out this sugar body scrub for sensitive skin. It features moisturizing coconut oil so you'll feel soft and oh-so-tropical after just one use. (yestocarrots.com, $8)
  • Fresh Sugar Face Polish. Yum! This all-natural face polish boasts brown sugar and antioxidant-rich strawberries to gently dissolve dead skin cells and reveal gorgeous skin underneath. We also love that it's gentle enough for regular use on your face. (Sephora, $58)
  • Origins Incredible Spreadable Smoothing Salt Body Scrub. Get the best of both worlds with this salt and sugar scrub. The salt buffs away rough skin, and the sugars — along with delicious spearmint and citrus — moisturize for touchable skin. (Origins, $29)
  • Glô Minerals Sugar Body Polish. A blend of sugar cane, shea butter and cocoa butter awaits you with this luxurious and gentle body polish. You'll smell like happy memories, we swear. (gloprofessional.com, $25)

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