7 brilliant Epsom salt benefits, according to skin and wellness experts

Epsom salt benefits are seemingly endless – here's what these minerals can do for your skin, body and soul

A shot of salts in a wooden spoon on a blue backdrop, to illustrate the Epsom salt benefits can have on your skin, body, and mind
(Image credit: Future/Getty images)

Epsom salt benefits seem to be endless.This natural mineral has been used in baths for centuries, and over the years has been touted as a natural remedy for everything from skin inflammation to poor sleep and muscle tension.

For many, a bag of Epsom salts is as essential to bath time as the best bubble bath. They don't have the sexiest of reputations and are often found in large, functional bags in your local drugstore. However, their natural abundance means that this self-care ingredient is relatively inexpensive and very accessible. Whilst many hail them as a wonder product, it’s important to mention that there is little scientific evidence to prove most purported Epsom salt benefits. But that doesn't mean they are not worthy of your time.

“Public love and the fact they’ve been used for so long means that there are many Epsom salt benefits linked to the healing power of the ingredient,” says Dr Barabara Paldus (opens in new tab), scientist and founder of Codex Beauty. Epsom salts also have an advantage over sea or rock salt for bathing. “Those salts are more absorbent, so they can be combined with essential oils, but they need to be stored in a dry place - not the bathroom! Whereas Epsom salts are made up of magnesium and sulfate, are not as absorbent and can be happily stored in your bathroom,” Paldus explains. Practical and powerful, what's not to love? These are the experts' top Epsom salt benefits, as well the answers to your Epsom salt FAQs. 

The 7 best Epsom salt benefits

1. Soothing sore muscles

Soothing aching muscles is probably the best-known Epsom salt benefit. “Magnesium is essential for muscle relaxation, and this combination combined with the benefits of the sulfate is what makes Epsom salt a go-to for sports recovery,” says Penny Hamilton (opens in new tab), wellbeing expert, and co-founder of Westlab. “Not only does an Epsom bath help keep the muscles relaxed, it also helps reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), cramps and can help prevent injury."

2. Soaking tired soles

The well-being benefits of taking a mindful moment with an Epsom salt bath shouldn't be underestimated. But If you’re not a bath person then there is another way to enjoy those Epsom salt benefits - why not incorporate them into an at-home pedicure for a foot soothing and de-puffing treatment? Estée Lalonde (opens in new tab), founder of self-care brand, Mirror Water and beauty influencer, recommends, “It's nice to have a foot bath with these salts while watching your favorite TV show. Scatter some in a warm bowl of water, put your feet in and relax.” 

3. Quietening the mind

“Epsom salts are also known for their capability with stress relief and mood stabilization,” explains Dr Paldus. “Some people claim that magnesium increases serotonin (the happiness or relaxation hormone) production in your brain.  However, most doctors believe that the stress relief comes from the warm bath itself, and one can get this effect with just warm water.” However you interpret this, how to deal with stress is incredibly subjective, but many do find these multitasking salts help ease a busy mind. 

4. Soothing inflamed skin

This bath product is also used to help soothe specific types of skin inflammation. "This is less known in the UK, but in the US, Epsom salt solution is often used as a home remedy in compresses as the flushing and drying effect can soothe the swelling and discomfort of insect bites and stings," explains Hamilton. "This makes sense to me as I’ve always used magnesium sulfate paste from the chemist to remove splinters from myself and my family, so this is just a version of that."

5. Easing cramps

Anyone who has sunk into an Epsom salt bath during a particularly bad bout of cramps can attest to this. “The muscle relaxing properties of Epsom salts are great for soothing cramps and muscle aches associated with menstruation, and also menopause symptoms,”says Hamilton. Many also find that, “Epsom baths can help with fatigue, energy levels, and mood, which are also symptoms of hormonal fluctuations."

6. Improving sleep

Beauty sleep is everything. And if you're wondering how to sleep better, Epsom salts could be the solution. “Not only is magnesium essential for the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) it is also essential for ATP which is the body’s fuel currency and is vital for converting glycogen into energy", says Hamilton. She continues, "Taking an Epsom salt bath around 1-2 hours before bed can not only help promote a deeper, more restful night’s sleep, but can also help you to feel more energized and refreshed the following day.” 

7. Relieving headaches

The final Epsom salt benefit the experts touted is probably the most straightforward. They can help ease headaches and are said by many sufferers to be one of the key migrane cures, when added into a bath. “By relaxing the muscles surrounding your skull, the magnesium in Epsom salt may help release a headache or migraine,” says Paldus. 

Our beauty editor recommends...

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Westlab Reviving Epsom Bath Salt | RRP: $11.99/£6.99

An absolute bargain bag of Epsom salt goodness. You can even buy this in a 5kg sack, which makes regular salt bathing even more economical. These haven’t been combined with any fancy fragrances or accompanying ingredients but that doesn’t mean you can’t add your best essential oils (opens in new tab) or your favorite bubble bath to elevate your bath experience. There’s also nothing wrong with keeping things plain and simple!

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Mirror Water Soak Bath Salts | RRP: $42/£35

This trio of Himalayan rock, magnesium, and Epsom salt are all different sizes and shapes, which makes sprinkling them into the water much easier as you can grab a handful really easily. Plus, the smell is utterly divine. If you want a product that feels and looks chicer than many other Epsom salt offerings, this is it. 

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Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soothe & Sleep | RRP: $11.99/£8.50

Combining restful and soothing lavender with gritty Epsom salts, these are the perfect combo for when you’re taking a bath to help you get to sleep that night. Make sure to take extra time to breathe in the gorgeous scent to help calm your body and mind. 

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de Mamiel Anchor Bath Soak | RRP: $95/£60

These salts have been created specifically for when you need some ‘anchoring’ - if your mind is continually wandering or you feel your anxiety levels are heading up. Combining Dead Sea, Himalayan and Epsom salts as well as magnesium flakes and the brand’s special anchoring scent, these will slow your mind and body down.

Your Epsom salt FAQs answered

How often should you use Epsom salt?

“We recommend using them 2 - 3 times a week,” says Hamilton. “The main misconception though is how much to use. People often don’t add enough to their bathtub. If you’re using them regularly then approx. ½ Kilo (2 cups) per bath is recommended. But if you’re using them after an event such as a half-marathon where you’ll have depleted your body of minerals, then you’ll want to up this to a full kilogram (4 cups).”

Should I rinse after an Epsom salt bath?

There is some nuance within this and it all depends on which Epsom salts you opt for. Some Epsom salts are nourishing enough to be left on the skin as they’ve been combined with other minerals (you will know this simply by reading the packaging). “Pure Epsom salt, however, is not known for its skin benefits and can actually prove quite drying if used regularly, so we don’t actively advise leaving these salts on the skin after the bath,” advises Hamilton. Following on with your best body creams for dry skin will help alleviate this. 

Can Epsom salt detox your body?

Because there is no scientific evidence that the magnesium within Epsom salts can penetrate deeply into the skin it is unlikely that Epsom salts can detox your body. “Some online detox plans advocate drinking Epsom salts but the ingestion of Epsom salts can lead to rapid and dramatic changes in one’s intestinal state, which can cause severe dehydration and discomfort,” explains Paldus. 

Why are they called Epsom salts?

If you’ve ever wondered why Epsom salts are so-called, the story goes that in the early 17th century a farmer discovered a spring on Epsom common (just outside London) that his cows refused to drink from because of its bitter and salty taste. Somehow it was decided to apply it to human skin instead, and when some people's skin ailments cleared up, Epsom became a famous Victorian spa town where the rich would flock to be healed. Of course, we now know that masses of magnesium sulfate lies under the earth, which had dissolved into the water, but as this site was where it was first discovered that is how this chemical compound became known as Epsom salts. 

How long should you soak in Epsom salt?

The short answer is, however long you like! Epsom salts are not a potent ingredient that your skin can only be exposed to for a short amount of time, so feel free to wallow away indefinitely. 

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith
Freelance Beauty Director

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith has worked in the beauty industry for more than 15 years and, as well as woman&home, has contributed to titles such as Stylist, The Daily Mail and The Times.

As a mum of two little girls she has limited time to spend on herself, so if you’re looking for hard-working multi-tasking products, she’s the one in the know.

Her top three products she has on her at all times are a glow-giving tinted moisturiser, brow pencil and a tinted lip balm. Oh, and she’s never far away from a hydrating face mist.