I’m not an athlete, I’m not a bath person, and I’m not an 82-year-old, so I’ve never really felt the need for Epsom salts in my life. But it turns out there are a ton of other ways to use them beyond the standard sore-muscle bath soak. So if you’re in need of a little R & R in this post-Christmas-pre-New-Year’s (but still stuck in your hometown) lull, here are five at-home treatments you can make using the Epsom salts lurking in the medicine cabinet at your parents’ house. (Or you could go out and buy some—we like Dr. Teal’s Rosemary Mint Epsom Salt Soaking Solution.)
Sunburn reliever. If you’re lucky enough to be spending the holidays somewhere sunny, hopefully you listened to that motherly/Allure voice in your head and wore tons of SPF 50. But in case you did somehow get a sunburn, Epsom salts can help inflamed skin. “I mix a couple of spoonfuls into a cup of water and use a spray bottle to mist it onto the affected area,” says Taz Bhatia, the medical director of the Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrated Medicine (and a spokeswoman for Dr. Teal’s). “Its anti-inflammatory properties alleviate discomfort.”
Lip treatment. If you somehow don’t have dry, chapped lips this time of year, congratulations. For everyone else: Make an Epsom-salt scrub by combining the granules with coconut oil and rubbing the mixture into lips. Then wipe the it away with a warm, damp washcloth, and follow with a swipe of lip balm. “Epsom salt is a great exfoliant because its granules are bigger than other salts’ and sugars’,” says Bhatia. “And because it’s a magnesium salt, it’s not as harsh as typical sodium chloride salt. It’s less drying and less irritating.”
Facial. “Epsom salts’ natural exfoliating properties deep-clean skin,” says Bhatia. Add a half teaspoon to any creamy facial cleanser to turn it into a scrub. “I like to create a salty-steam facial by adding the Epsom salts to a small basin of very hot water and holding it under my face for a few minutes,” she says. Then apply a face mask and rinse with cool water.
Body scrub. You could really use the same coconut-oil-Epsom-salt scrub you used on your lips as a body scrub, too (it would work especially well on dry elbows or heels). But Epsom salt on its own also makes for a supereffective body scrub: After your shower, gently massage wet skin with handfuls of the crystals. The coarse texture helps slough away dead skin cells, while the anti-inflammatory properties prevent irritation. Rinse and follow with a moisturizing body cream.
Hair volumizer. Bet you didn’t see this one coming: Epsom salts can help remove the oil and product buildup that weigh down hair. For a mask that clarifies without sapping moisture, combine equal parts Epsom salts with your regular conditioner, then comb the mixture through hair and let it sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.
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