Can Sea Salt Really Help Treat Acne?

Has your acne-prone skin ever miraculously cleared up while you were on a beach vacation? Maybe at the time you attributed it to the extra sunshine and lower stress, but possibly the secret to your clear complexion was the sea salt from the ocean.

What exactly is sea salt? Very simply, it's the salt found in our ocean's seawater, which can be extracted and is often used in cooking. Natural sea salt is packed with minerals like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium and, in addition to your kitchen cabinet, is also found in skincare and bath products (via Byrdie).

In 2021, one TikTok user shared a video that quickly racked up over 4 million views, claiming a simple combination of sea salt and water completely cleared up her acne. But, just because something goes viral, does it mean that it works? We looked into the trending DIY skincare solution to find out if, in fact, sea salt can help treat acne.

Sea salt hasn't been researched for acne

Anecdotally, sea salt has been said to have general anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. However, Claire Chang, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, told Byrdie, "There's limited evidence in the scientific literature about sea salt's benefits. And there have been no studies on its benefits for the treatment of acne." Sea salt is also known to pull out moisture and extra oils, so theoretically, it could also dry out pimples. But over-drying and irritation are where this ingredient can take the wrong turn, says Dr. Robert Paull of theĀ Center for Dermatology and Laser Skin Surgery. Basically, it's easy to slip up when using sea salt for acne, so it may be best to look for better-researched methods.

In the end, the likely reason your skin cleared up on your vacation was a combination of factors, like the extra sun and lowered stress, and the added minerals like magnesium in the ocean water. A DIY sea salt mist won't likely be the end-all be-all for your acne issues, especially since at-home remedies can be risky and will probably never match the effects of water from the sea. But, if you still feel the urge to test out sea salt on your skin for yourself, try a face mist instead of a salt-infused exfoliator.