In the craze for all things DIY, baking soda has popped up as a popular beauty remedy. Blogs have heralded the white powder hiding in the box at the back of your fridge as a cheap and easy wonder-exfoliant. But is it safe?
Keep in mind, baking soda is considered strong enough to clean bathtubs. That in itself should give you pause.
But if you’re still not convinced that baking soda isn’t the miracle worker some beauty blogs would make it out to be, keep reading. These are three reasons why you should never put baking soda anywhere near your face.
Your Skin Barrier: A Key To Clear, Youthful Skin
As you age, your skin cells renew themselves at a much slower rate, and dead cells begin to build up. The result? Enlarged pores and dullness. But regular exfoliation can help rid you of those layers of dead cells and get you back to smooth, radiant skin.1
Here’s the caveat: exfoliation must be done with care. Scrubbing the skin with poorly-formulated products can actually damage something called the “skin barrier.”
Your skin barrier is the topmost layer of your skin. Keeping it healthy is absolutely essential to maintaining clear, youthful skin. You see, your skin barrier works as a protective wall for the rest of your skin. Here are a few of its functions:
- Helps retain moisture — which diminishes the appearance of wrinkles
- Reduces the risk of irritation that may cause redness
- Keeps bacteria and pathogens out
- Prevents acne breakouts2
Here’s the thing – baking soda has several characteristics that can disrupt your skin barrier and cause problems. Here’s how:
1. Baking Soda Upsets Your Skin pH
On the surface of your skin barrier sits a very thin film of acid called the acid mantle. The acid mantle is an important part of your skin barrier that works to keep skin healthy.
Turns out, your skin is naturally acidic. Healthy skin measures in at a pH of about 4.5 to 5.3. And it’s important to keep skin pH in this range to maintain a strong barrier. If your pH falls outside this range, it can result in dryness, irritation, and bacteria.
Now, let’s talk about skin dryness for a moment. As you age, the lipids your skin produces tend to decrease. These lipids play a big role in keeping skin well-moisturized. And you want to keep skin moisturized — it goes a long way in helping to diminish the visible signs of aging.
And guess what? Baking soda is not acidic. In fact, it’s very alkaline – clocking in at about 8.3. Introducing something that alkaline to your skin has the potential to upset the natural pH balance, greatly increasing the risk of dryness — along with irritation and acne breakouts.
2. Baking Soda Can Over-Exfoliate The Skin
You already know that exfoliation can help curb oil, keep your complexion smooth, and prevent the development of clogged pores and acne. All of this is great, but …
Did you know that it’s possible to over-exfoliate? Over-exfoliation happens when the ingredients being used to scrub the face are too abrasive. Abrasive scrubs – like baking soda – can lead to irritation, dilated blood vessels, and hyperpigmentation.
3. Baking Soda Can Irritate The Skin
According to safety experts, baking soda is classified as a “skin irritant” – meaning it can cause skin problems on contact. These same experts recommend rinsing with cold water immediately after skin contact and soothing the skin with cream. Clearly, this is not the kind of substance you want to put on your face, right? This is especially true if you’re already prone to redness or skin sensitivity — conditions that can become more bothersome with age. And if you struggle with acne? You’ll want to avoid baking soda as well.
So to keep skin calm and irritation-free – skip the baking soda.
The Safe Route: Professionally Formulated Exfoliators (And Cleansers Too)
Not all DIY beauty remedies are bad. But exfoliating is one aspect that should always be undertaken with great care. The benefit of using professional exfoliants it that you can rely on scientists to research the proper balance of ingredients to achieve gentle exfoliation – without disrupting the skin barrier, upsetting pH, or causing irritation.
Here are some exfoliant options that are better choices than baking soda:
Safe physical exfoliants: A physical exfoliant is a scrub that will physically slough away dead skin cells to reveal a new layer of skin. Well-formulated physical exfoliants will get the job done without abrasive ingredients that can cause damage. Physical exfoliants can be especially great for faces that are prone to oil.
Chemical exfoliants: Alpha-hydroxy acids and retinoids can stimulate skin cell turnover so that the surface of your skin isn’t dulled by layers of dead cells. Chemical exfoliants are a particularly great option for dry or sensitive skin.
Gentle Cleanser: Don’t forget that the face wash you choose also affects your skin barrier. Opt to wash your face with a balanced cleanser that will keep skin protected, moisturized, and youthful.
When It Comes To Your Face? Just Say “No” To Baking Soda
The internet offers a world of do-it-yourself remedies, but some of these remedies are best left alone. Keeping yourself well-educated will help you make decisions that benefit the health and beauty of your skin, ensuring that it’s:
- well moisturized
So, when you exfoliate, keep the baking soda in the refrigerator – where it belongs.