Epsom salt is composed of two minerals – magnesium and sulfate – and it’s a steal!. It’s been around forever, too: There “have been recorded uses of Epsom salt to solve health problems since the 1500s,” says Jim Hill, president of the Epsom Salt Council.
You may have written it off as something collecting dust in your grandparents’ bathroom closet, but Epsom salt has a number of practical – and effective – uses. Stock up on it to reap the following benefits:
1. Mildly Exfoliates The Skin
“People use it as an exfoliator, a blackhead reduction [method], and a standard facial cleanser,” says Andrew C. Krakowski, a dermatologist. That’s because unlike a lot of exfoliators on the market, Epsom salt isn’t made up of plastic. “It provides gentle abrasion and then dissolves into your tub or shower,” says Hill.
2. Pumps Up Puny Strands
Hills says Epsom salt can also be used as a hair volumiser, since it’s great at removing gunk. “It will definitely give hair more body,” he says. How to use it: Mix equal parts Epsom salt and conditioner, massage into your hair, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing out. You can also use Epsom salt to create a paste that will eliminate dead skin on your scalp if you’re plagued by itching.
3. Temporarily Reduces Bloat
Yep, soaking in an Epsom salt bath can be a quick fix for temporarily reducing water weight, says Sabrina Sarabella, certified personal trainer. The reason: The salt pulls toxins and water out of your system. (Word is Amanda Seyfried has actually used this trick to squeeze into a red carpet dress.) The best bath recipe: Add ½ cup of Epsom salt to your bath for every 25kgs of body weight, says chiropractor, David Jockers.
4. Soothes Sore Muscles
“If you have a sprained ankle or are just in pain, it can help drain out toxins or [reduce] inflammation,” says Jockers. He even points out that it can decrease pain during the early stages of labour. So fill up your tub!
5. Relaxes The Mind
Jockers recommends his clients regularly turn electronics off, throw on some music, lower the lights and soak in the tub in an Epsom salt bath. “It’s a really awesome practice to be doing on a regular basis,” he says. “It’s really good for relaxation.” One study found that the magnesium in Epsom salt helps to lower cortisol, the stress hormone.
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6. Improves Your Bone Health
Because Epsom salt has magnesium, taking a bath in the product allows users to absorb the element, which can help with bone health, says Sarabella. “Many people think that consuming calcium through dairy products is [the most important thing for bone health],” she says. “But that’s untrue. You need magnesium.”
And what not to use it for: Though there is information floating around out there about the possibility of using Epsom salt for an internal cleanse, Krakowski warns against it, stating that many outrageous claims about the product should be “taken with a grain of salt” – pun intended. “Do not confuse this product with something that you would want to use internally [by ingesting it],” he says. “You will get into trouble doing that.” Noted.