As much as we love it on fries, we’re given a lot of reasons to hate salt. But the truth is, there are many ways that it’s not so bad for us. “Your body needs salt to survive and to manage the chemical processes and moisture balancing act of life. Though many decades passed with everyone believing that adding salt to food was causing high blood pressure (among other issues), more recent comprehensive health studies have disproven this link,” says dermatologist Jessica Krant.
Sodium is the most important electrolyte in the body, says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a doctor, women’s health and nutrition expert and author of “The Complete Natural Guide to Women’s Health.” You’ve heard about animals who travel miles and miles to “salt licks” to get enough of it for their needs. Humans have the same needs. We need to lick salt.
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That said, we’re probably eating way too much salt. “Too much sodium in the diet creates a higher osmotic pressure in the body, which means your body will retain water to try to keep your saltiness at a healthy level,” Dr. Krant says. We know salt contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke risks. But it can also cause bloating and definite visible puffiness of the face and around the eyes. You probably know when you ate too many potato chips the night before, right?
But even though we may want to tread softly when eating salt, there’s a lot of times we just may want to consider using it on our bodies — rather than eating it.
Use a homemade salt scrub mixing equal amounts of coconut oil, epsom salt, baking soda, and a few drops of tea tree oil, says Hibba Kapil owner of Hibba Beauty in New York City. This is a great pre-wax exfoliant because the baking soda will open up the pores and the salt with scrub away dead skin. The coconut oil will keep your skin moisturized.
Soaking in an epsom salt bath can help with body aching, stress, and sleep, says Shanna Israel, wellness expert and founder of Vertical Wellness. This is also a great option to soothe inflamed skin, like with sunburns.
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You can use salt as a natural deodorant, says Israel. Salt is anti-microbial, which means it will inhibit the growth of bacteria — and its scent! Salt-based deodorants such as Crystal ($4.99, Puritan.com) are a good natural alternative to other deodorants.
At-home beach spray
Mix a scoop of sea salt with hot water and a little conditioner. When it cools, put into a spray bottle and spray into hair for texture and volume, says Judy McGuinness, senior stylist at mizu New York salon.
Mix Epsom salts into your conditioner for a volumizing masque, suggests McGuinness. Leave in for 20 minutes. After rinsing, air dry for the most volume.
Use sea salt to exfoliate beofre shaving. Mix a generous amount of salt into some olive or coconut oil and rub onto legs. After rinsing, shave to get super smooth legs, says McGuinness.