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Is Salt Water Good For Your Skin And Hair?

by Gabbi
Woman On The Beach

Did you notice a healthy glow and perfectly effortless beach waves last time you spent the day soaking up the sun and splashing around in the ocean? You’re not alone. Many of us have felt extra beautiful on vacation, and some have long suspected that the reason for that is the salty goodness from the ocean water.

You may have even heard that seawater has healing properties – that it can clean wounds and help them heal faster, and that spending time in saltwater can even heal your joints or remove toxins from your body. 

The miraculous health benefits are a bit above our paygrade, but we can certainly discuss the effect saltwater has on your skin and hair.

So, is salt water actually good for your skin and hair? Yes, salt water can be good for your skin and hair. It has antibacterial properties, will cleanse and exfoliate the skin, and may even help reduce the appearance of pores! Salt water can also give your hair gorgeous beach waves.

So, turns out it’s not a myth – salt and ocean water do indeed have qualities that make it great for skin and hair, helping with certain skin and scalp conditions and improving the overall appearance of each. 

In this article, we are going to get into the difference between various types of saltwater, what their benefits are on skin and hair, and how you can incorporate salt water into your beauty routine for the best results possible!

Salt Water Vs Sea Water / Ocean Water

Before we dive in, we have to make sure we understand the difference between general salt water and water from the sea or ocean. Although both are salty, there are some significant differences.

Salt water is just water mixed with table salt – sodium chloride. You can make it yourself. Medical-grade salt water is called saline and it’s made with purified water and sodium chloride and can be safely used in medical settings. 

Seawater, or ocean water, also contains sodium chloride – a lot of it. But it is also full of other minerals. Over 40 other minerals, to be exact, including magnesium, calcium, and sulfate among others.

In addition to all those minerals, ocean and seawater can include contaminants, chemicals, and anything else you can imagine that ends up in the water.

All types of salt water can be beneficial for your skin and hair, but the added minerals in ocean water pack additional benefits and healing properties.

Benefits Of Salt Water For The Skin

Saltwater can do wonders for your skin, especially if you have skin prone to irritation and acne. We are going to dive into the sea of information (no pun intended) regarding the benefits, but remember that saltwater can come with a risk too: too much of it can irritate and dry out your skin. So proceed with caution.

Here are some great properties of saltwater that can be great for your skin:

  • Antibacterial – Salt has long been used as a preservative because it’s great a killing many forms of bacteria. This can be especially helpful if you’re suffering from acne, irritation, or open wounds. If you’re someone who picks their pimples, ending up with sore red bumps – salt water can help calm them down and sanitize them to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Cleansing & Exfoliating – In addition to killing the germs, saltwater can help remove oils, dirt, and dead skin cells. It acts as an exfoliant or a natural toner. This also helps to prevent breakouts, while giving your face a fresh glow and evening out the skin tone.
  • Shrinking Pores – Salt water tends to tighten your skin, which can be good and bad, depending on the extent of shrinking. If it’s done in small amounts, your pores will appear smaller, giving you a smoother complexion. 

As you can see, there are a lot of perks of using salt water on your skin. Salt water is especially useful for anyone who has oily, congested, breakout-prone, or damaged skin because salt water is cleansing and soothing. 

Some anecdotal evidence shows that a sea salt solution has been effective against Seborrheic Dermatitis – a skin condition that causes a flaky rash and excessive oil production on the face, body, and scalp. 

Possible Drawbacks Of Salt Water For Skin

That being said, not all salt water is the same. As we discussed, salt water from the ocean or the sea contains a lot of different ingredients.

Some are good – like the added minerals such as magnesium, while others can be bad, like the chemicals, dirt, and environmental toxins that find their way into our oceans. Truth be told, you can never be sure what is in your seawater since it depends entirely on the environment. 

So although seawater can be great for your skin, it can also be unpredictable, and in some cases, dangerous. Regular salt water (with table salt or ground sea salt) is a lot more stable and can offer you the same benefits without the risk.

Another thing to consider is that salt water can be drying. Salt tends to pull moisture out, so putting too much of it on your skin, especially if your skin is already on the dry side – can make matters worse. 

Benefits Of Salt Water For The Hair

If you’ve ever dunked your head in the ocean and then allowed your hair to air-dry under the sun, you’re probably familiar with seawater’s unique ability to magically give you tousled effortless beachy waves.

You can thank the salt content for that. But you might be surprised to learn that gorgeous texture is not the only thing salt water does for your hair.

There are quite a few other benefits:

  • Extra Body – The salt water acts like a styling product or a dry texture hairspray – adding volume and hold. This is actually what gives you those beautiful waves. 
  • Scalp Exfoliation – Just like it exfoliates your skin, salt water can exfoliate your scalp. This means it can get rid of dead skin cells and stimulate faster hair growth. 
  • Anti-Dandruff – Because salt water is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, it can reduce dandruff and give you a clearer scalp without the use of chemicals!
  • Cleansing – Washing your hair in the ocean? It’s not as crazy as it sounds! The salt water can dissolve oils and pull impurities out of your hair, acting sort of like a shampoo, except without any harsh soaps. 

Salt water has a lot of benefits for the hair – it can be especially helpful if you struggle with scalp problems. It cleanses your hair, makes it look soft and beachy, and gives it a little extra oomph as it dries.

Possible Drawbacks Of Salt Water For Hair

Be mindful, however, that salt can be drying. If you struggle with dry hair, exposing it to salt water often can contribute to the problem.

Another big thing to keep in mind is how salt water can affect color-treated hair. Even if your dyed hair doesn’t feel very dry, keep it away from salt water.

When your hair has been chemically processed with dyes or bleaches, it can lose moisture very easily due to the hair cuticles being open. Adding salt water to the mix can suck even more moisture right out of it. 

When You Don’t Have Access To The Ocean

Want to experience all the great benefits of salt water on your skin and hair, but don’t live anywhere near an ocean? No problem. You can bring the sea to you!

Saltwater has become a popular ingredient in beauty products, so you can find hundreds of products for your face, hair, and scalp that give you all the benefits listed above, often mixed with other great ingredients that protect your skin and hair from the drying qualities of salt. 

You can also DIY some beauty products yourself by using sea salt or pink Himalayan salt from the grocery store. If you’re keen on making stuff yourself, below are some great recipes you can try!

DIY Sea Salt Hair Spray

Get those perfect beachy waves without going to beach with this easy to make Sea Salt Hair Spray that works on most hair types. We love that you have control over the ingredients – you can use sea salt and purified water, and not have to worry about what else might be floating in the ocean.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup purified water
  • ½ tsp jojoba oil
  • 2 tbsp sea salt (or use Himalayan pink salt for extra minerals)


  1. Boil the water in a small pot.
  2. Remove it from the heat.
  3. Add salt and stir until the salt is fully dissolved.
  4. Let the mixture cool completely.
  5. Add jojoba oil.
  6. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
  7. Use in damp hair and allow hair to air-dry. Scrunch it up to add extra texture!

DIY Pink Himalayan Salt Toner

This toner is exfoliating, cleansing, and hydrating. Use this after washing your face and before applying serums or moisturizers. This toner removes dead skin cells, encourages cell turnover, hydrates, and preps your skin for the next steps in your skincare routine.

What You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup pure water
  • 2 tsps ground pink Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup rose water (you can purchase it or make it yourself using rose petals)


  1. Warm water in a small pot. Remove from heat right before it begins to boil.
  2. Add in the salt and stir until it is dissolved.
  3. Let it cool completely.
  4. Add in the rose water and stir to combine.
  5. Place the mixture into a bottle.
  6. To use, put some of the mixture onto a cotton pad and wipe over your face after washing. Follow up with the rest of your skincare routine.

DIY Relaxing Salt Bath

Salt water is great for the skin on your body. It can cleanse and remove all the dirt, oils, and toxins from a long day. Make this relaxing salt bath to feel like you’ve soaked yourself in the ocean (but better).

What You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup epsom salt (this kind of salt contains magnesium and sulfate, much like seawater. You can use table-grade sea salt as an alternative)
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil
  • A tub filled with warm water


  1. Fill your tub with warm water
  2. Dissolve the epsom salt in the bath
  3. Add your lavender essential oils
  4. Get into the tub and soak for up to 30 minutes. Relax and enjoy your time!

Best Products With Salt Water

If you’d rather not make your own products, don’t worry – there are plenty of offerings on the market made with salt water that bring all the benefits of seawater to your beauty cabinet.

If you’re looking for those beachy waves, you’ll have no problem finding a product that gives you all the benefits of salt water without the questionable ocean water. 

Most of them do an amazing job at adding the kind of volume and texture you’d get from splashing all day in the sea thanks to their high salt content. Most of them will also contain antioxidants, hydrating ingredients, and essential oils that leave your hair feeling extra luxurious.

Here are a few of our favorite salt sprays:

If you’re more interested in finding a saltwater product for your scalp concerns, there are several great products aimed at treating dandruff and flaking using the unique properties of sea salt.

Here are our top salt water scalp treatments:

For products that contain salt water and offer acne-fighting or skin-exfoliating properties, look no further than our list of favorites below.

Here are our favorite acne-fighting and exfoliating salt water products:

Is It Good To Use Salt Water On The Face?

Although salt water has a lot of cleansing and acne-fighting properties that are great for the skin, many people are still concerned about putting salt water on the face, because it seems so harsh.

It is true that too much salt can be dehydrating. And we all know that dehydrated skin is not good – it leads to cracks, peeling, dryness, flakes, and even premature aging.

So is it safe to use salt water (and salt water products) on the face?

The answer is – it depends. If you have naturally oily skin and suffer from sebum overproduction, salt water can help control the oil and improve your skin. It can reduce the amount of acne and blackheads that you experience, without dehydrating your skin too much. 

It’s important to pay attention to the salt content in whatever product you’re using on your face. Too much salt can be dehydrating even for the oiliest of faces, but the right percentage of salt will be tolerated well. 

Of course, it is hard to tell how much salt is in the ocean water! It’s much easier to control this if you’re making your salt water skincare products yourself or buying them from a reputable brand.

But if you’re splashing around in the ocean? It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you are worried about dehydrating your skin, make sure to wash your face after the day at the beach. Don’t let the layer of salt sit on your face too long.

Can You Leave Salt Water In Your Hair Overnight?

It’s probably safe to leave salt water in your hair overnight from time to time. Although salt water can be drying, if your hair is in good condition, doing it occasionally won’t hurt.

However, if you are regularly swimming in the sea (or using a sea salt spray daily), it’s best to make it a habit to rinse the saltiness out of your hair before bed. 

If salt water becomes a daily companion to your strands, it’s important to give your hair a break every night. We would also recommend using extra hydrating hair masks and leave-in conditioners to offset the drying effects of the saltwater. 

If you have color-treated hair, this is even more important. Don’t leave salt water in your hair for too long. We would advise that you stay away from salt sprays altogether, and wash your hair immediately after you’re done swimming in the ocean.

Color-treated hair is already compromised from the dye and it loses moisture easily. Adding salt to the mix expedites the moisture-depleting process, potentially leaving you with dry and brittle ends.

Can You Get Beach Waves With Sea Salt Spray?

If the main reason you’re interested in sea salt spray is because you’re after voluminous beachy waves, you’ll be excited to know that sea salt can not only be good for your hair but will also give you the summery waves of your dreams!

Take a look at this tutorial from ellebangs on YouTube for getting the perfect waves with sea salt spray below.

Final Thoughts

Salt water can be great for your skin and hair, whether you get it through exposure to the sea or from beauty products formulated with salt water. 

For people with acne-prone and oily skin, salt water can unclog pores and clear the skin of excessive oils and toxins, allowing it to clear up. 

For people with scalp problems, salt water can be a life-saver because of how well it exfoliates the scalp and gets rid of dandruff.

Overall, salt water, especially when it contains all the great minerals of the ocean, has a lot of healing and soothing properties that serve as a great addition to any beauty regimen.

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