Make your own beauty products and reap the health benefits of salt for great summer skin.
Salt, the rock we eat, was money before money came into existence. We are talking about a building block of human civilization when we talk about salt—a substance entwined with ancient practices on a level the sheer ordinariness of table salt makes it difficult for us to understand.
Salt was so valuable it is believed to have been part of a Roman soldier’s wages, and ancient governments controlled its movement. France only ended its unpopular salt tax, begun in 1286, in 1790. Salt, not easy to access before industrial production, was important to our ancestors because it could be used to preserve food in a refrigerator-less world. But it is more than a kitchen staple.
It has also been used for centuries to cleanse, soften and treat the skin and hair. The Egyptians and Romans made salt rubs by massaging a mixture of salt, herbs and natural oils into the body to cleanse and refresh. Hippocrates was one of the first to promote the use of salt in the bath to heal and soothe the body. Today salt is still a popular beauty ingredient, and can be found in many natural and commercial products. You will see salt listed as sodium chloride on product labels.
Did you know? Prehistoric and historic trading routes called salt roads were used to transport the mineral to areas without salt.
Salt baths, scrubs and rubs have become popular spa treatments in many high-end salons and spas. In the bath, salt is soothing to sore muscles, helps boost circulation and draws toxins from the body. Coarse salt is mixed with light oils and other aromatic ingredients and massaged into damp skin to help remove dead skin cells and other surface impurities, leaving your skin sparkling clean.
When shopping for salt, you will find many different kinds, from common kitchen salt to the more exotic sea salts that come from all over the world. These range in color from bright white to pink and even black. You will also find salt in several different sizes or grains, from fine to large rocks. Depending on how you are using the salt, you can choose your grain size. Finer grains mix and dissolve very easily in recipes such as bath soaks; larger, coarse grains have more scrubbing power and are used for cleansing tough skin spots such as heels and elbows.
Above are a few homemade bath salt recipes featuring salt to get you started. Enjoy!
Colored bath salts: Mix equal parts Epsom salts and kosher salt with a bit of natural food coloring for a bath salt that also makes a wonderful gift.
Dry shampoo: If you can’t wash your hair with water and soap, salt makes an effective dry shampoo that you can massage into your scalp and comb out. Make sure to use a coarse grain of salt such as kosher salt, as fine salt will be hard to comb out.
Foot soak: For a deodorizing and softening foot soak, add 1 cup sea salt or kosher salt to a tub of water and soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes. Scrub with a natural pumice stone to soften rough spots.
Emergency blemish treatment: Soak a cotton ball in warm salt water solution and press on top of a breakout or blemish for 3 minutes to help dissolve the top and disinfect the area. Dab a bit of honey on the spot and let sit for another 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty at Home (Henry Holt, 2002) and lives in Medford, Oregon.
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