What Is a Salt Glow?

A Body Scrub That Exfoliates With Salt

Woman lying on massage table receiving salt scrub, waist up
••• A salt glow is just another name for a salt scrub. Turner Forte/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The first time I saw a salt glow on a spa menu (long, long ago), I was perplexed.  What was it exactly?  how did it differ from a salt scrub, or a sea salt scrub? Did it have some secret ingredient that made your skin glow?

I soon found out that it was just another name for the same service.  Just as restaurant menu writers love to wax poetic, so do spa menu writers.  It's true that it's an exfoliating treatment that is stimulating to your skin and leaves it feeling "glowing," and it does sound very nice.

 But rest assured that it is not substantially different from any other salt scrub. 

A salt glow also hydrates your skin because the salt is combined with oil and usually some aromatic like lemon, lavender, or even figs. (Spas can get very creative here.) The salt glow is followed by a shower and an application of body lotion, and leaves your skin feeling very soft and fragrant.

What Happens During a Salt Glow?

A salt glow usually takes place in a wet room. Depending on the spa, you might be laying on a massage table covered with a towel or sheet or a thin piece of plastic, or you might be lying on a wet table. You might be offered a pair of disposable underwear.

As you lay on your stomach, the therapist rubs a mixture of sea salt, oil, and aromatics like lemon or lavender into your skin. Then you turn over and she does the other side. Usually, you are draped with a towel, and only the part she is working on is exposed.

When she’s finished, you’ll step into a shower to rinse off all the salt. Don’t use shower gel – it’s good to keep the oil and aromatics on your skin. If the spa is doing the treatment on a special wet table, the therapist will either rinse you off with a hand-held shower, or turn on a Vichy shower, a special six-headed shower that is parallel to the table.

There is something very wonderful about getting a shower laying down, or having someone bath you, and I highly recommend it. Both of these feel fabulous!

You can get a salt glow on its own, but often it’s the first step in a body wrap , often a seaweed or mud wrap. That’s because exfoliation prepares the skin for products like seaweed or algae that detoxify the body by stimulating circulation through vasodilation of blood capillaries.

You can also combine a salt glow with a massage. I recommend getting the salt glow first because it is stimulating, whereas the massage calms you down. Sometimes spas have signature treatments that combine both services – salt glow and massage.

Sea salt is fairly abrasive, and some therapists have a heavier hand than others. Individuals also differ in their skin sensitivity. If it feels too harsh, be sure and speak up.