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epsom salt foot soak

Guide: Using Epsom salt

22 Sep 2021 • 3 min read


Do you want to know more about Epsom salt? Are you wondering what it is exactly and what the link is to using salt for health-related purposes?

The prospect of doing anything with salt other than to use it to add some flavour to your meals may sound a bit bizarre, but Epsom salt happens to have lots of health benefits.

Just so you know, Epsom salt and table (cooking) salt are two totally different things.

The Epsom variety contains 3 ingredients: magnesium, oxygen and sulphur.1

The reason why it’s referred to as a salt is because of its ingredient make-up.2

Epsom salt has been around for a very long time. It was reportedly first discovered in Epsom, Surrey way back in 1618.3

Many centuries later, it’s used far and wide as an alternative care for numerous ailments, mainly because it contains magnesium, which happens to be a mineral that many people are lacking in.4

Magnesium is responsible for making sure a lot of crucial things happen in our body, for instance, regulating blood sugar levels and making protein, bone and DNA.

How does Epsom salt work?

Using Epsom salt is relatively straightforward; you take the bag or carton of salt and dissolve it in some warm water.

The magnesium and sulphur are then released from the salt crystals, creating a solution that’s absorbed by the skin.5

What is Epsom salt used for?

You can use Epsom salt for lots of things:

You can bathe in it

Soaking away in an Epsom salt bath can help soothe tired muscles and, because it contains magnesium, it’s also believed to help relieve dry skin. This is due to the fact that the magnesium is absorbed by our skin as we bathe. However, it’s worth noting here that there’s widespread speculation relating to the level of absorption and effectiveness.6

jar of epsom bath salts next to towel and soap


Run your bath as you usually would.


Add around 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to the water.

You can soak your feet in it

Another popular thing to do with Epsom salt is to create an Epsom salt foot soak in your bath or in a bowl of warm water, which is particularly good to help care for cracked heels.7

It can also help to relax other muscles in your body, reduce foot odour and care for ingrown toenails.8

woman soaking her feet in epsom salt water


Make sure the water fully covers your feet.


Add half a cup of Epsom salt. 


Soak your feet for around 30 to 60 minutes.


Moisturise your feet afterwards, as the salt can dry your skin out.7

You can gargle with it

Because of its antioxidant properties, Epsom salt can be used as a mouthwash.

glass of water next to spoon of epsom salt for gargling


Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to a cup of lukewarm water.


Gargle for 5-10 minutes.

You can make a face mask with it

You can use Epsom salt to make a cleansing face mask that’s applied to damp skin for maximum absorption.9

For more face mask recipes, check out this article, ‘5 DIY face masks for moisturising.

bowl of epsom salt and bowl of oil for natural face mask


Mix quarter of a cup of grated carrot with 1.5 teaspoons of mayonnaise with half a teaspoon of Epsom salt.


Leave on face for 10-15 minutes.


To exfoliate instead, gently massage Epsom salt over wet skin, starting with your feet and continuing up towards the face.

You can water your plants with it

Yep, that’s right. Using Epsom salt for plants is a thing. The magnesium’s said to help flowers to grow, plants to grow bushier and the overall colours to be more vibrant. Hydrated magnesium sulphate is essential for healthy plant growth.10

spraying houseplant leaves with epsom salt water


Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to a gallon of water.


Feed your plants with the mixture monthly. 


For shrubs, add 1 tablespoon per 9 square feet and apply to the roots every 2-4 weeks. 


For trees, apply 2 tablespoons over 9 square feet 3 times a year.

What are the benefits of using Epsom salt?

Just as there are many different ways you can use Epsom salt, there are just as many advantages to using it.

Epsom salt benefits – at a glance

  • Supports magnesium levels
  • Helps with relaxation
  • Helps to make the skin look smoother
  • Helps to relax tired muscles
  1. Boost magnesium levels

There’s a lot of widespread discussion out there about Epsom salt bath benefits, particularly in relation to magnesium absorption.

According to research carried out by the University of Birmingham, prolonged soaking in Epsom salt can increase blood magnesium concentrations.11

  1. Help with relaxation

Magnesium can help our bodies produce melatonin, which is the hormone that promotes better sleep.12

  1. Smoother skin

To create your own scrub combine one cup of Epsom salt with half a cup of coconut oil.

This will exfoliate your skin and will help get rid of dead skin to reveal softer and smoother skin.

  1. Relax tired muscles

Epsom salts have a relaxing effect on your body, so can help to relax tired muscles after a long day.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 22 September 2021



Author: Manisha TaggarSenior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019

BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science

Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.

After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

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