- A specific amount of baking soda combined with other ingredients in a face mask can help exfoliate skin, control excess oil and calm acne.
- Baking soda may be an antimicrobial agent that reduces skin inflammation and infection.
- While baking soda face masks may offer certain skin care benefits, the severity of its potential side effects make it a controversial mask ingredient.
- Some side effects of a baking soda mask are extreme skin dryness, redness and rashes.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is often used in face masks because of its abrasive nature, which allows it to act as a physical exfoliant. When used in these products, baking soda helps to unclog pores, combat acne and remove blackheads.
However, this ingredient comes with its share of potentially harmful effects that may outweigh its potential benefits. The alkalinity of baking soda can have a major impact on the skin’s natural pH balance, leading to irritation and additional skin issues.
Baking soda is a natural and inexpensive ingredient that can be used to exfoliate the skin, helping to treat issues such as acne. Although baking soda can cause skin dryness, this effect may be beneficial for those with oily skin.
Baking soda has an exfoliating effect which helps unclog pores and decreases the likelihood of acne and blackheads forming. Baking soda can also be used as a spot treatment for pimples as the drying effects of baking soda may help to reduce their size and visibility.
Although there is no evidence available due to a lack of clinical studies, one in vitro study indicated that baking soda has antimicrobial properties that can inhibit the growth of bacteria that lead to skin infections.
Baking soda is naturally abrasive, making it a powerful physical exfoliant. When applied to the skin, the fine granules help remove makeup, grime, oil and dead skin. This effectively unblocks pores and leaves the skin refreshed.
While it may be too harsh to apply to the face on its own, baking soda can be combined with water and applied as a paste.
DIY Baking Soda Face Mask Recipes
Making a baking soda mask at home is easy, and there are many DIY recipes to choose from that may be helpful in treating certain skin issues. Be sure to measure the ingredients carefully for best results.
Baking soda face mask for acne
The exfoliating property of baking soda can help unclog pores, reducing the formation of acne and inflammation caused by breakouts. Lemon juice contains citric acid which acts as a chemical exfoliant and has the ability to brighten the skin.
- Combine 2 tbsp of baking soda, 2 tbsp of water and several drops of fresh lemon juice in a bowl
- Gently massage the paste on to the skin
- Leave on for ten minutes
- Rinse with lukewarm water; pat skin dry
- Apply a moisturizer that is best suited for your skin type
If your skin tends toward dryness, add a few drops of hemp seed oil which contains nourishing fatty acids and vitamins. These ingredients can help keep skin moisturized when subjected to the drying effects of the baking soda.
Baking soda face mask for removing blackheads
Honey has antibacterial properties that aid in killing the bacteria that can clog pores and disrupt healthy skin. It is also an antioxidant that acts as a humectant, providing moisture to the skin.
- Combine 2 tbsp of honey with 1 tsp of baking soda in a bowl
- Gently massage paste evenly on to the skin
- Leave on for 15 minutes
- Remove using a warm, damp cloth
- Rinse with lukewarm water; pat skin dry
- Apply a moisturizer that is best suited to your skin type
Blackheads are the result of pores clogged with sebum that becomes exposed to air and oxidizes, resulting in the dark coloring.
Using baking soda in this face mask should help reduce blackheads by physically exfoliating pores. Additionally, breaking through the oil and dirt on the surface of the skin will allow the honey to access bacteria within the pores and help treat the blackheads. There is, however, no scientific research to support baking soda’s efficacy for treating blackheads.
Baking soda face mask for eczema and psoriasis
While there is little scientific research regarding its efficacy, many claim that adding baking soda to lukewarm bath water will improve the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema. Baking soda baths have been found to reduce itchiness and skin dryness associated with psoriasis.
The mechanism by which baking soda functions as a treatment is not known, however, there is speculation that the alkaline pH may create an inhospitable environment for some of the molecules that cause eczema and psoriasis.
For treatment, dermatologists typically recommend topical formulations that are slightly acidic and match the skin’s pH level, however, some researchers argue for the potential efficacy of alkaline substances such as baking soda.
Not all external uses of baking soda are effective however. Unlike baking soda baths, other forms of topical applications of baking soda have been found to be ineffective when treating psoriasis.
- Combine 2 tsp of jojoba oil or sweet almond oil and 1 tsp of baking soda to form a fine paste
- Gently apply paste on to the skin
- Leave on for 5 minutes
- Rinse with lukewarm water; pat skin dry
- Apply a moisturizer best suited for your skin type
Adding jojoba seed oil or sweet almond oil can help hydrate dry skin. Jojoba oil also helps improve skin barrier function, while almond oil can help to improve skin tone.
Risks Associated with Baking Soda Masks
Although baking soda has been approved for use in cosmetics by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, using it as a mask can cause discomfort, cosmetic issues or additional skin problems.
The main issue associated with baking soda is its alkalinity. While skin typically has a natural pH level between 4 and 6, the pH of baking soda is about 8.5. This disrupts the ceramides and other lipids that exist in the skin’s natural barrier, leaving skin dry and vulnerable to bacteria. It can also lead to patches of redness and itchy skin.
How to Use a Baking Soda Face Mask Safely
Should you choose to use baking soda for your skin, it is important to take a number of precautions to minimize the potential damage of the ingredient.
Before applying a baking soda mask, perform a patch test on a small area of skin, then wait 24 hours to see if you experience any skin reactions or side effects.
Since baking soda is likely to disrupt skin’s moisture barrier, masks should only be applied at most once per week to minimize any potential risks.
After using baking soda on normal or oily skin, it is best to apply a moisturizer to avoid skin dryness. A moisturizer containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic or lactic acid, will be particularly beneficial, not only because they are effective humectants and increase ceramide levels, but also because they are effective at a low pH.
This can help bring the skin pH back down to normal after applying alkaline baking soda. Those with dry skin types should avoid using baking soda altogether.
Alternatives to Baking Soda Face Masks
Salicylic acid (SA)
SA has antibacterial properties and works as a chemical exfoliator. It is particularly effective for treating blackheads due to its oil solubility which allows it to easily penetrate pores to clear out debris and sebum. This mechanism of action will also help to prevent future acne breakouts and leave skin looking more vibrant.
While it is a fairly safe option to apply in most cases, it may not be best for everyone. Those with sensitive skin may find SA to cause redness and skin irritation.In rare cases, more serious side effects can occur as a result of an allergic reaction called salicylism, causing rashes, shortness of breath and dizziness.
At a near neutral pH, cornmeal’s fine granules can be used to exfoliate the skin without impacting the skin’s pH balance. Cornmeal can also be combined with freshly squeezed lemon and green apple to exfoliate and brighten skin.
Similar to cornmeal, coffee grounds are gentler on the skin than baking soda. Coffee grounds have a mildly acidic pH level which avoids disrupting the skin’s pH balance.
Additionally, the caffeine found in coffee grounds contains antioxidants, and can penetrate the skin barrier to reduce the signs of aging. Coffee grounds can be used in wet or dry form to help brighten dull skin.
While baking soda face masks are inexpensive, and do exfoliate the skin, they can be drying, irritating and overly abrasive.
Baking soda face masks, therefore, are best when combined with naturally hydrating ingredients such as honey or olive oil to minimize any potential side effects. Its high alkalinity can also be managed by including more acidic ingredients in your face masks.
If you have sensitive skin, or if you would like to choose alternate ingredients for a mask, you can consider SA, cornmeal or coffee grounds as safe exfoliating ingredients to use in place of baking soda.
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