Epsom salt has become quite popular as a remedy for several health conditions. In the beauty industry, it has been an essential ingredient in therapeutic mineral baths, where people add Epsom salts to a warm bath to treat sore muscles.
Since magnesium is easily absorbed into your skin and hair follicles, Epsom salt has also become an interesting ingredient for hair care treatments.
Epsom salt contains pure forms of magnesium and sulfur that have been associated with various beauty benefits (e.g., removing dead skin cells during a foot soak). Magnesium and sulfur are thought to increase your hair’s volume and help you maintain a healthy scalp.
Most importantly, Epsom salt can be an effective solution for scalp problems like dandruff and inflammation.
If you are wondering whether Epsom salt can work for you, this article looks into various ways, techniques, and methods of using Epsom salt for hair growth, dry skin, scalp health, and much more.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Epsom Salt?
- 2 What Does Epsom Salt Do For Your Hair?
- 3 How To Use Epsom Salt for Hair Care
- 4 Epsom Salt Hair Care Benefits
- 5 Epsom Salt for Fighting and Preventing Dandruff
- 6 How To Use Epsom Salt To Eliminate Dandruff and Dead Skin Cells
- 7 Why Does Epsom Salt (or Magnesium Sulfate) Make Your Hair Feel Rough and Dry?
- 8 Epsom Salt Hair Care Recipes
- 9 Is Epsom Salt Safe to Use for Everyone?
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt, also commonly known as magnesium sulfate (sometimes called magnesium salt), is a naturally occurring chemical compound that consists of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.
It derives its name from a saline spring at Epsom in England, where the salt was discovered. Regardless of its name, Epsom salt is significantly different from common table salt. Its chemical structure is the only reason it is called a “salt”.
While its appearance resembles table salt, Epsom salt is very bitter and unpalatable. Nevertheless, some people drink it for its health benefits.
Most of the health benefits linked to Epsom salt can be attributed to magnesium –an essential mineral and common deficiency in many people.
Dissolving Epsom salt in water frees up its magnesium and sulfate ions.
According to scientific studies, the parts of the skin with hair follicles can absorb magnesium better than skin without hair follicles. Also, magnesium sulfate has a coarse texture that helps exfoliate the scalp by eliminating dead skin and substance buildup.
What Does Epsom Salt Do For Your Hair?
Epsom salt is an excellent scalp exfoliator that removes dead skin patches, accumulated dirt, and excess oils. Mostly, this buildup clogs the hair follicles and pores on your scalp and can lead to inflammations and other scalp problems.
Also, massaging your scalp with Epsom salt helps improve blood circulation to stimulate hair growth.
Magnesium is among the most critical minerals in the body, but often people don’t get enough and need to supplement their magnesium intake with a multivitamin.
The mineral helps the body combat inflammation and infections. When Epsom salt is applied to the scalp, the magnesium ions get absorbed into the dermal layers to revitalize and nourish the tissues.
How To Use Epsom Salt for Hair Care
Epsom salt is an ingredient that is becoming increasingly popular for women with curly hair. It’s being used in hair care regimens more frequently, and the success stories are growing.
There are multiple ways of using Epsom salt for your hair care routine. However, the most appropriate method depends on your hair type.
1. Epsom Salt Mixtures for Oily Hair
If your hair and scalp are oily, we recommend combining Epsom salt and shampoo. It’s fine to include a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salt in your regular bottle of shampoo.
The purpose of this blend is to eliminate excess oils on your hair strands and scalp with each wash, similar to a clarifying shampoo. To create this hair treatment, some women mix equal parts of shampoo and Epsom salt.
Alternatively, we recommend adding Epsom salt directly into the shampoo bottle; add two tablespoons for every 16 ounces of shampoo.
To get a balanced blend, shake the shampoo bottle thoroughly after adding the salt and before every wash. When washing your hair, apply the Epsom salt and shampoo blend just like you do with regular shampoo.
Take your time to ensure thorough application, deeply and evenly to the scalp and hair strands, paying attention to the oiliest parts of your hair and scalp.
It would be best if you only used Epsom salt-infused shampoo after every other regular shampooing. Alternating your shampooing sessions can minimize the possibility of your hair and scalp drying out from using Epsom salt.
If you need help creating a natural hair regimen, read this article. If your hair is harder to moisture, Epsom can cause problems for dry hair types making the hair and scalp dry. More details are provided in the next section.
2. Epsom Salt for Brittle or Dry Hair
If you are among those ladies with dry hair, it’s best to avoid mixing Epsom salt with your shampoo. Otherwise, washing your hair with Epsom salt-enhanced shampoo can lead to excessive dryness and damage your hair.
However, you can enjoy the benefits of adding salt to your conditioner. This may improve your hair volume and enhance the appearance of your curls.
Mix equal parts Epsom salt and your hair conditioner, but you should only prepare the treatment on an on-demand basis for periodic conditioning.
It is recommended to mix the conditioner and Epsom salt in a microwave bowl and then warm the mixture before applying it to your hair.
However, you should only heat the mixture until it gets lukewarm but not hot. This helps the salt dissolve into the conditioner before applying the mixture.
Shampoo your hair in your usual way before applying the Epsom salt-infused hair conditioner. Make sure you work the conditioner thoroughly into your scalp using your fingertips.
Most importantly, ensure the conditioner covers all of your hair strands, from the roots of your hair to the ends of your hair. Leave the Epsom salt conditioner on your hair for at least 20 minutes before you rinse it out with warm water.
Nevertheless, it is vital to limit the use of Epsom salt conditioner to no more than every other regular conditioning treatment. If used continuously, the Epsom salt will likely further dry out your already dehydrated hair.
Epsom Salt Hair Care Benefits
Epsom salt has numerous hair and skincare benefits. It has been widely used as a remedy for various hair and skin problems. The scalp is part of your skin and can benefit from topical application of magnesium sulfate.
While hair volume is the most common reason for using Epsom salt, there are other benefits of including the salt in your hair care routine.
a) Enhance Hair and Scalp Health
According to hair scientists, magnesium is a vital mineral for maintaining optimum scalp and hair health. Similarly, several studies have shown that parts of the skin with an abundance of hair follicles, like the scalp, can absorb magnesium more easily.
Epsom salt has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which can help fight infections and inflammations on the scalp. The continuous buildup of excess oils and pollutants on the scalp can lead to itchiness and infections.
Regular application of Epsom salt on the scalp relieves itchiness and soothes scalp inflammations. According to studies from the National Library of Medicine, using magnesium sulfate for hair treatment can lower inflammations and prevent skin roughness.
While Epsom salt baths can be effective, a combination of coconut oil and Epsom salt massaged on the scalp and hair roots gives the best results.
Alternatively, some women pair a cup of Epsom salt with olive oil or lemon juice. We haven’t seen research on the effectiveness of the olive oil and lemon juice combinations but we’ll update this article in the future if more data materialize.
b) Adds Hair Volume and Mitigates Hair Loss
The excess oils accumulated on your scalp can make your hair appear feeble and lifeless. Using Epsom salt can revitalize your hair and enhance its volume and bounce.
Furthermore, salt can help manage the dullness and frizziness of dry, damaged hair follicles.
Epsom salt enhances the definition of thin, lifeless, and limp hair. When used regularly, the magnesium and oxygen in Epsom salt strengthen and moisturize the hair follicles.
This mitigates hair loss, premature hair greying, and patches split ends. A solution of distilled water (or filtered water) and Epsom salt can be used on the hair to stimulate the hair cells.
Epsom salt has hygroscopic properties and tends to attract and bind water molecules. Therefore, a topical application of magnesium sulfate on your hair and scalp can have a hydrating effect on oily hair types.
c) Epsom Salt for Better Curls
The disulfide bonds in the hair structure determine the physical appearance of curls. Several studies revealed that adding magnesium sulfate into rinsing agents strengthened the hair and increased curl retention.
Also, Epsom salt enhances the curl pattern and improves stability in high humidity conditions.
Epsom salt occurs as a hydrated compound that is highly hydrophilic, so it attracts and binds water from the environment.
When you apply Epsom salt to your hair, it neutralizes the potential hydrogen (pH) and increases the number of hydrogen bonds on the hair. As a result, this tightens your curls and enhances your existing curl pattern.
Epsom Salt for Fighting and Preventing Dandruff
While dandruff is a common hair problem, it can be quite annoying. There are countless commercial hair care products that can help with dandruff problems.
Although, if you want a natural solution that works, you can make an Epsom salt dandruff hair treatment and say goodbye to a flaky scalp.
The main ingredient in Epsom salt is magnesium, which stimulates and enhances cell turnover by eliminating calcium buildup in hair follicles. Excessive calcium accumulation on the scalp often leads to a dry, flaky scalp and potentially hair loss.
Surprisingly, many people with severe dandruff problems often suffer from more severe scalp issues like psoriasis and dermatitis.
Epsom salt can help remedy the problem by providing nutrients like sulfate and magnesium. It is also a physical exfoliator that gets rid of dandruff and dead skin buildup.
How To Use Epsom Salt To Eliminate Dandruff and Dead Skin Cells
If you want to get the best results when using Epsom salt for scalp problems, always add oils like avocado oil or shea nut oil. One teaspoon of salt should be combined with six teaspoons of oil.
If your hair is dry, you are better off using an essential oil or a nourishing conditioner after treating your hair with Epsom salt.
Apply the Epsom salt treatment on a slightly damp scalp, and massage your scalp gently for about three to five minutes. The granules will work out the dead skin and exfoliate the scalp to treat dandruff.
Finally, wash your hair with a moisturizing shampoo and use your favorite essential oils as you normally would in your hair care regimen. If you need ideas on which essential oils to use (or how to use them in your regimen), read this article.
Why Does Epsom Salt (or Magnesium Sulfate) Make Your Hair Feel Rough and Dry?
The hair shaft contains primarily fibrous protein. In addition, it also contains lipids and water. However, when exposed to a hygroscopic compound like Epsom salt, the hair shaft can become dehydrated.
This is due to the salt’s tendency to attract and bind water particles to itself. While this property is responsible for enhancing curls, it is also capable of detrimental effects if salt is overused.
Magnesium sulfate forms large crystals which can harden on the hair’s surface to create a temporary rough texture. The best remedy for this issue is using an appropriate leave-in conditioner infused with essential oils.
Epsom Salt Hair Care Recipes
While the exfoliating capabilities of the coarse grain are exceptional, Epsom salt can purify and detoxify your hair and scalp (e.g., creating an Epsom salt shampoo). The salt balances out the pH on your hair and scalp to provide a healthy environment for hair growth.
Depending on the condition of your hair, making a hair treatment that blends several ingredients can yield better results.
Epsom Salt Hair Spray
While Epsom salt is commonly used to enhance hair volume, it also has excellent hair conditioning properties. Coconut oil is a widely used hair moisturizer that boosts scalp health and prevents flaking.
The coconut oil in this recipe will help the Epsom salt hair spray coat your hair evenly for maximum results.
Plus, aloe vera is an excellent hair growth booster, and it can help mitigate dandruff and prevent scalp inflammation and itching. This recipe also includes tea tree oil, which has antiseptic properties that can treat inflammations linked to scalp conditions.
- 1 tablespoon Epsom salt
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 5 drops of your favorite hair oil (e.g., cactus oil, jasmine oil, rosehip oil, camphor oil, or canola oil)
- 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel
- 1 cup of warm water
Preparation and Use
Heat the water until it is almost boiling. Add the Epsom salt and sea salt, then stir continuously to dissolve the crystals. Add the organic coconut oil and stir the solution until the oil has completely melted.
Next, add the aloe vera gel while stirring the mixture, and then add your favorite hair oil for a refreshing scent. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and transfer the solution into a spray bottle.
The Epsom salt hair spray is more effective when applied to damp hair. Spray gently on your hair while scrunching your hair to ensure a thorough penetration.
If your hair is excessively oily, it’s best to use this spray sparingly.
Is Epsom Salt Safe to Use for Everyone?
While Epsom salt is considered a safe natural hair treatment that you can use on any hair type, the salt dries out the hair strands. Typically, people with straight hair types and an oily scalp will experience benefits, like increased hair volume.
However, for other hair types, Epsom salt tends to have a drying effect and can lead to brittle ends. So, we generally don’t recommend using salt if you have a tight curl pattern (e.g., type 4 hair type).
Therefore, it is prudent to combine your Epsom treatment with essential oils or a deep conditioning treatment to rehydrate your hair.
If you have colored hair, you should be careful with Epsom salt hair treatments since magnesium can react with colored pigments. While a single wash may cause a slight fade, higher concentrations can strip the color off the hair strands.
As more natural beauty enthusiasts adopt Epsom salt into their hair care routines, product variations continue to emerge. One of them is “magnesium oil”. You may come across several products that are infused with magnesium oil.
Typically, this is a saturated solution of magnesium chloride.
Unlike Epsom salt, the chlorine molecule in magnesium oil significantly alters the ideal properties of the salt. This makes it less hygroscopic and incapable of hydrating your hair, and its overuse is likely to damage your hair.
Epsom salt is a hair care ingredient that can your curls.
However, the very mechanism through which it achieves these results can leave your hair more prone to damage due to the dehydrating effect. Nevertheless, you can prevent this by using Epsom salt alongside deep moisturizers and oils.
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If you are a natural hair care enthusiast, Epsom salt is an interesting ingredient to test (or even include in your hair care regimen). Besides making oily hair more voluminous, magnesium sulfate can add more definition to dry hair.
Since many people are deficient in magnesium, Epsom salt can nourish your scalp and hair with magnesium and strengthen your hair.
However, it is essential to remember that overuse of Epsom salt can make your hair dry and brittle. For the best results, it’s best to use salt with a well-planned moisturizing regimen.
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care. At Curl Centric, we aim to help our readers take control of their hair care journey and make good decisions about products, hairstyles, and maintenance techniques. We also have strict editorial integrity; here’s an explanation of our editorial guidelines and how we make money.