How to Make an Exfoliating Salt Scrub in 3 Steps

Get smoother, softer skin in minutes with this natural, homemade salt scrub.

large glass lidded container filled with homemade salt scrub mixture with wooden spoon dipped in

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

  • Total Time: 2 - 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 uses
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly
  • Estimated Cost: $5-15

A salt scrub is a resourceful exfoliant that is easy to make on your own. The practice of exfoliating helps to unclog pores, remove dead skin cells, and keep the skin clean. A salt scrub, in particular, can help skin retain its moisture. With the addition of natural essential oils, it is often used for aromatherapy.

By using essential oils and carrier oils that promote wellness, this homemade recipe will give you an at-home spa experience like no other.

What You'll Need


  • 1 airtight container
  • 1 spoon


  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sea salt
  • 2 to 4 tbsp of oil (olive, avocado, jojoba, coconut)
  • 5 to 10 drops of essential oil (optional)


  1. Combine Main Ingredients

    sea salt and oil is mixed with wooden spoon on braided mat

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Mix the salt and oil together until well blended. It should be a homogenous mixture, with the oil completely coating all the grains of salt.

  2. Add Essential Oils

    glass dropper of essential oil is added to salt scrub mixture in wooden bowl

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    If you're adding essential oils, blend them in after mixing the salt and oil. Stir thoroughly to ensure even distribution throughout the scrub.

  3. Place in Storage Container

    salt scrub mixture is spooned into glass container with spring-loaded lid

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Place the salt scrub in an airtight container and store it in a cool location until ready to use.

For Best Results

Use your scrub two to three times a week on clean, damp skin. Scoop out the desired amount and rub it on your body. It is best to apply the scrub to one section of the body at a time so you don't lose too much of the scrub to the shower floor.


wooden honey dipper drizzles honey into salt scrub mixture in wooden bowl

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Customize your salt scrub by changing up the carrier oils, essentials oils, and even the type of salt used. You can also add a tablespoon of honey to your scrub for an even better experience.

Types of Salt

two wooden bowls filled with different types of salt: pink and chunky kosher

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Dead sea salt can actually increase hydration in the skin. Dead sea salts are comprised of mostly magnesium salts, which have been shown to influence cell renewal and enhance the restoration of the permeability barrier, which helps to maintain moisture.

Epsom salt is another source of magnesium and contains no sodium chloride. Magnesium is an essential micronutrient, and topical application is one of the oldest delivery methods for treating skin disorders. Magnesium is also an anti-inflammatory agent and smooths the skin.

Rock salt, or halite, contains 84 of the 92 known trace elements. Himalayan salt is a type of rock salt. It has been used as a home remedy for a variety of skin conditions and insect bites, and to reduce inflammation. It cleanses and detoxifies the skin. In addition to exfoliating, these salts can rejuvenate the skin, making it firmer and more youthful in appearance.

Avoid Table Salt

Most of the beneficial minerals have been taken out of table salt. It contains anti-caking additives, which have been deemed safe by the FDA; however, they are generally made from synthetic materials.

Manuka Honey

wooden honey dipper is pulled out of glass container dripping with honey

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Honey is popularly used as a moisturizer and is known for its antibacterial properties. Manuka honey, which is produced from the manuka tree in New Zealand and Australia, stands out for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Studies suggest there are extensive health benefits of this monofloral honey.

Essential Oils

two glass dropper bottles of essential oils next to dried lavender on wooden tray

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Essential oils have therapeutic effects that will enhance your homemade sea salt scrub. The addition of the steam from a shower can make them a powerful tool for aromatherapy.

Oils such as clary sage ease tension and muscle cramps and are often used as remedies for problems associated with menstrual cycles. Eucalyptus relieves headaches and boosts the immune system. Lavender has been shown to reduce anxiety and support mental alertness. It can also reduce stress and headaches. A lemon essential oil can also boost the immune system along with elevating your mood.

Essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin and many will have benefits other than that given from the inhalation method of aromatherapy. For instance, peppermint essential oil is anti-inflammatory and can relieve arthritic problems. It is also considered to be an analgesic, or pain reliever. Tea tree oil is antibacterial as well as an anti-inflammatory. Chamomile essential oil can also be used for its anti-inflammatory properties and to relieve muscle spasms.

Carrier Oils

glass containers in metal tray containing different types of carrier oils

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

For getting the most out of your salt scrub, you want to use a natural plant-based oil. Plant oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil can be found in your local grocery store. Jojoba and argan oils are also great oils to use. More oil can be added to the scrub to make it slightly less abrasive.

Treehugger Tip

Be mindful of the comedogenicity of certain oils. If you're prone to breakouts, coconut oil may not be the best choice for your skin as it is highly comedogenic and will make the scrub more likely to clog pores.

Dos and Don'ts of Exfoliation

two hands rub homemade salt scrub mixture into each other for exfoliation

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

When applying your scrub, keep the following exfoliation tips in mind.

  1. Do avoid your eyes. The skin in this area is particularly thin and sensitive.
  2. Don't rub on your face. Dabbing to apply and then rinsing can help you reduce the risk of irritating sensitive skin.
  3. Do test out the scrub on a small area before applying it to the entire body. Salt scrubs are a bit more abrasive than sugar scrubs, and you want to make sure that your skin handles it well.
  4. Do prolong your scrub's life by only focusing on problem areas such as feet, elbows, and knees. You can apply the scrub to your whole body at least once a week.
  5. Don't keep the scrub in the shower. The moist environment can promote the growth of bacteria.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do salt scrubs work?

    Because salt is abrasive, it can be used as a mechanical exfoliant. This means that when rubbed over skin, it can remove dead skin cells and help stimulate cell turnover. The addition of a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil, turns the salt into a spreadable paste that both smooths the skin and softens the salt so it is not overly abrasive.

  • What is the difference between salt scrubs and sugar scrubs?

    Salt scrubs and sugar scrubs are based on the same idea: a grainy material mixed with a carrier oil used to exfoliate the skin. The primary difference is in their abrasiveness. Salt particles are larger than sugar particles, so salt scrubs are more intense. Sugar scrubs are better for sensitive areas like the face or for people with sensitive skin.

  • How often should you use a salt scrub?

    For normal skin, a salt scrub can be used two to three times per week. This can be increased for those with oily skin and decreased for those with dry skin. Over-exfoliation is possible, so if skin has become dry or irritated, use the salt scrub less frequently.

View Article Sources
  1. Proksch, Erhardt, et al. "Bathing in a Magnesium-Rich Dead Sea Salt Solution Improves Skin Barrier Function, Enhances Skin Hydration, and Reduces Inflammation in Atopic Dry Skin." International Journal of Dermatology, vol. 44, no. 2, 2005, pp. 151-157., doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2005.02079.x

  2. Chandrasekaran, Navin Chandrakanth, et al. "Permeation of Topically Applied Magnesium Ions Through Human Skin is Facilitated by Hair Follicles." Magnesium Research, vol. 29, no. 2, 2016, pp. 35-42.

  3. Sarker, Apurbo, et al. "Halite; the Rock Salt: Enormous Health Benefits." World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, vol. 5, no. 12, 2016, pp. 407-416., doi:10.20959/wjpr201612-7482

  4. Alvarez-Suarez, Jose M., et al. "The Composition and Biological Activity of Honey: A Focus on Manuka Honey." Foods, vol. 3, no. 3, 2014, pp. 420-432., doi:10.3390/foods3030420

  5. Ahmed, Sarfarz and Othman, Nor Hayati. "Review of the Medicinal Effects of Tualang Honey and a Comparison with Manuka Honey." The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, vol. 20, no. 3, 2013, pp. 6-13.

  6. Ali, Babar, et al. "Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy: A Systematic Review." Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, vol. 5, no. 8, 2015, pp. 601-611., doi:10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007