Salt And Skin

By Minji

  • Did you know 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium?
  • Salt can cause our bodies to retain water, which often results in swollen, dehydrated and puffy looking skin
  • The trickiest problem when it comes to salt is that it’s not so obvious which foods contain a lot of it so watch out!

Whenever I have relatives visiting from Seoul, one of the constant complaints I hear is about the saltiness of food.  In particular with my mom, one in two restaurants in LA will typically be too salty for her to ever want to try again. 

In contrast, one of the standard habits I observe in quite a few of my American friends is, immediately adding salt to every meal.  Some will do it instinctively, without even having tasted the food first.   

The way people around me eat sushi is a great example to further illustrate this point.  Everyone in my family will carefully dab just the tiniest bit of soy sauce onto their sushi.  Here in the U.S., I’ve found that it’s not uncommon for people to generously soak the entire piece of fish into salty soy sauce. 

It’s pretty clear to me that my family members fear sodium and try to stay away from it way more than others around me.  I’ve always watched out for my sodium intake meticulously.  I put salt at the top of foods to avoid, along with sugar and simple carbs... but I'm realizing I might be in the minority.  I’ve been wondering why that is and how exactly salt might impact the quality of our skin.

According to recent statistics from the American Heart Association, 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium.  On average, American adults eat more than double the amount of sodium they should.  3,400 milligrams is the amount of sodium that the average American consumes and 1,500 milligrams or less is the American Heart Association's recommended daily allowance.

I asked Dr. Yoon about salt and its impact on skin.  Although not as bad as sugar, he cautioned that salt has been linked to eczema and other skin irritations. 

Also, since salt can cause our bodies to retain water, this often results in swollen, dehydrated and puffy looking skin.  Watch out especially around the eye area – this is never a good look and coupling salty foods with alcohol makes it even worse. In case this happens, I find that using a Soffli Detox + Hydrate Sheet Mask (straight from the fridge is better) for 15 minutes before starting my morning skincare routine helps a lot. 

The trickiest problem when it comes to salt is that it’s not so obvious which foods contain a lot of it.  Salty foods aren’t limited to junk food or snacks like chips and fries.  Many processed foods contain loads of hidden sodium — even ones with the “healthy” or “low-fat” labels.  Be wary of the frozen meals section in particular - lean cuisine is not so healthy after all.    

In addition, similar to sugar and flour, you want to stay away from the white kind.  White table salt is the worst kind since it’s generally over processed and contains almost no minerals or other beneficial nutrients.  If you must reach for the salt shaker, make sure it’s filled with pink Himalayan salt.  It’s considered the healthiest form of salt as it’s least refined, rich in minerals and typically with no added preservatives. 

In any case, for your skin and overall health, in addition to watching sugar and simple carbs, it makes sense to carefully monitor your salt intake.