Does Saltwater Help Acne Prone Skin?

There are endless skincare trends and hacks you can find online that claim to help treat and prevent acne. Recently, a TikTok user claimed a DIY sea salt spray cleared up her acne, and social media couldn’t get enough of the viral skincare trend. 

But does salt water truly help with acne? Can it be used as a viable acne treatment, or is this “hack” too good to be true? In this article, we’ll break down the science behind saltwater and skin health acne and whether or not you should use salt water to treat your acne.

Should you use sea salt to clear acne?

Just like other skincare fads, it’s important to research the science instead of looking at before and after pictures on social media. On paper, salt water can seem like a go-to acne treatment. 

Sea salt from magnesium-based ocean water can be an effective remedy for acne. It can also work to exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells and work as an antibacterial on the skin.

Although sea salt may have some benefits for the skin, including helping with mild skin inflammation and redness, many dermatologists do not consider it a viable treatment for acne. There isn’t any research that shows saltwater can reduce inflammation and bacteria enough clear acne breakouts.

Some dermatologists claim that those who use salt water to treat acne can cause hyperpigmentation and potential scarring and may simply delay getting the proper treatment from a board-certified dermatologist or other licensed medical professionals. 

It’s best to eat a low-inflammation, balanced diet, have a proper skincare routine, and speak to a dermatologist to help treat acne.

How does salt impact skin?

Sea salt does have exfoliative and pore-cleansing properties, which dry out oils and pimples. But, it can also cause irritation, over-exfoliation, and hyperpigmentation, especially for sensitive skin. Sea salt’s impact on the skin highly depends on its use. It’s important to note that saltwater products should not be used with retinoids, salicylic or glycolic acids as this can lead to overdrying your skin.

Sea salt vs DIY saltwater at home

Sea salt that comes from magnesium-based ocean water can be an effective remedy for acne. It has exfoliative and pore-cleansing properties, which dry out oils and pimples. But, there is a big difference between water directly from the ocean and sea salt water mixed at home. Currently, no scientific evidence that proves that a DIY saltwater mixture made at home can be beneficial for acne. 

Although a DIY solution may work on a surface level, using it to replace other parts of your routine could harm your skin in the long run.

Benefits of sea salt on the skin

At the moment, there is little evidence in scientific literature to support the benefits of sea salt on the skin but there are some anecdotal reports and suggestions that sea salt may have some benefits for the skin. 

Here are some benefits of sea salt on the skin:

Sea Salt may have anti-inflammatory properties

Due to the high mineral content in sea salt water, it may have some anti-inflammatory properties although this isn’t backed by any scientific data just yet.

Sea Salt is a natural physical exfoliant

Sea salt has many exfoliative properties, which can be beneficial to people who struggle with psoriasis. A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that bathing in a magnesium-rich salt solution from the Dead Sea helped improve skin roughness, redness, and hydration in eczema patients. Magnesium is also a great supplement for anyone looking to clear their acne.

Exfoliating the skin also removes dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin, which may help prevent a buildup of dead skin cells and prevent some types of acne.

Sea salt can help absorb excess oil

Sea salt can help absorb excess oil on the skin, which can be beneficial for acne-prone skin. It also may have antibacterial effects that can be beneficial for cleaning pores and preventing acne.

Risks of sea salt to the skin

There are some side effects and risks associated with using sea salt on your skin to be aware of before trying out this skincare hack. 

Some common risks and side effects of sea salt include:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Over-exfoliation
  • Irritation
  • Dry skin
  • Exacerbating inflammation and blemishes
  • Micro-tears 

It’s important to be mindful of how you use sea salt for the skin. If you use sea salt as an exfoliant and rub it in aggressively, it can do more damage than good, causing over-exfoliation, irritation, and micro-tears in the skin. 

Skincare products with sea salt 

There are many high-quality skincare products with sea salt that can help treat acne and work better than the DIY alternative. For your face, it’s best to use a sea salt-infused face mist once a day, rather than using a sea salt exfoliant, which can be much too intense and abrasive for your face). If you have oily skin and occasional blemishes, a sea salt-infused face mist is a great option, as inflammatory or cystic acne will need more extensive treatment.

The Sea Salt hydrating face mist is made with soothing aloe, hyaluronic acid, and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt for nourishing minerals. It hydrates, tones, and revitalizes the skin, and works well with all skin types.

The Biotech Topical skin spray is made with pure hypochlorous acid and electrolyzed sea salt water to soothe sensitive pores and help soothe skin inflammation and irritations. It’s a hydrating and organic facial spray toner with anti-aging properties that gives your skin a healthy glow.

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that although some people may have seen visible results from sea salt and saltwater acne treatments, these results mainly stem from exfoliation and anti-inflammation. 

You can achieve clear skin from a healthy diet and a proper skincare routine. Salt water can definitely help exfoliate the skin but, as with most things in life, you can easily have too much of a “good” thing.  Currently there isn’t enough scientific data to back up the claim that saltwater helps acne, and there are several safer, more actionable routes you can take to get a better result. 

Originally Published: August 26, 2022

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Analyzed by Ashley Wilson

Hi, I’m Ashley Wilson, a part-time personal trainer, yoga instructor, and mother of three. My journey with hormonal acne started during pregnancy, which led me to natural remedies discussed on GoodGlow like utilizing a low-inflammation diet, dramatically improving my health and skin. After successfully clearing my acne during my first pregnancy I to share my insights on managing acne naturally and maintaining overall wellness on GoodGlow. I’ve adopted a lifestyle focused on nutrition, yoga, resistance training, and meditation, helping me juggle my busy life with kids and work. I’m always eager to connect and share skincare tips, so feel free to reach out!

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