The chemical compound sodium bicarbonate, simply known as baking soda, is one of the most common leaveners used in baking. This alkaline compound causes the dough to rise when combined with acids.
Some people say that they apply baking soda to their skin to help treat skin issues. Is this a good idea? Is baking soda good or bad for your skin?
Baking soda can be bad for some people’s skin, and be good for other people’s skin. It has a pH of 9 which means it is very alkaline. The skin should have a slightly acidic 5.5 pH. I don’t recommend it as a face wash, but it can be helpful as an acne spot treatment.
Debates abound whether baking soda is bad or good for the skin have waged for years. Different and oftentimes opposing views have been going around which can naturally be confusing, especially if you haven’t tried using baking soda on your skin yet.
But a significant number of skincare experts and those who have used or been using baking soda seem to agree that it is not at all bad for the skin.
Read on to learn more about whether baking soda is bad for your skin or good for your skin.
Also, for an excellent product with baking soda, take a look at our top pick, the Nasanta Magnesium Deodorant with Baking Soda:
Is Baking Soda Good or Bad for Your Skin?
There are those who warn against baking soda being too strong to be safe for use on the skin, saying that the compound disrupts the pH balance of the skin  because of its high alkaline content.
They add that since it’s also known to be used as a cleaning and bleaching agent at home, then baking soda is bad for the skin.
That is not entirely the case though, as baking soda has been proven to be a useful chemical for the skin, and even skincare experts, doctors, and those with testimonials can attest to the benefits of baking soda.
Of course, we’re not saying that you should now head out to your local store and buy the first baking soda package you’ll find.
If you have some serious skin issues or have sensitive skin, then you better ask your doctor first if it’s alright to use baking soda on your skin or how much and often you can use it.
Is Baking Soda Safe to Clean the Face With?
Since we’re already discussing baking soda and the skin, we might as well tell you if baking soda is safe to use as a facial cleanser. Skin experts do not recommend using baking soda to clean your face regularly because:
- Your face is very sensitive – the skin layer is thinner especially near the eyes, nose, and mouth. These areas can get irritated by the baking soda.
- Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes acid. This can be helpful for balancing out your skin’s pH but frequent use can be damaging. Using baking soda as a facial wash can erode the skin’s protective oil barrier, change its pH, and alter the natural bacteria on the outer layer, exposing it to the risk of infection.
- Exfoliation is important to do in order to even out skin tone and make your skin glow. But if you exfoliate your face with baking soda, it is quite harsh and can cause you to over-exfoliate. This will lead to redness, dryness, and breakouts.
Is Baking Soda Safe for Acne Treatment?
Almost everyone has experienced developing acne  in their lifetime. It’s not uncommon to have it and many people are prone to having it. Clogged pores due to over-secretion of your skin’s natural oils invite bacteria formation and result in pimples or acne breakouts.
And whenever this happens, it can be irritating, somewhat painful, and affect your self-esteem as breakouts typically appear on the face.
To fix this issue, including scaring and more acne breakouts, a lot of people opt for doctor-prescribed medications, but many also use natural remedies, including baking soda.
It has been established in many cases that baking soda can help in the treatment of acne breakouts by soothing inflammation and mild pain, because of its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
It can support acne treatments but it should be used with caution and not for regular/daily use because baking soda can:
- Disrupt the pH balance of the skin, which is already naturally acidic. The skin’s normal pH balance is 4.5-5.5. Baking soda is very alkaline – a whopping 9 on the pH scale– so it could make your skin too alkaline which would deprive it of its natural moisture.
- Make your skin prone to infection and irritation if not properly hydrated and depleted of its natural oils.
- Lead to overly dry skin.
DIY Baking Soda Acne Treatment
If baking soda can somehow help treat acne, save for some warnings (like it should only be used sparingly, as needed), then you might be wondering now if there are specific treatment methods available.
Well, you can actually do it yourself, but be sure to always use a newly-opened package of baking soda (to avoid contamination) when preparing your skincare treatment:
1. Facial Cleanser
You can mix just a pinch of baking soda with your daily facial cleanser, but do it only once, or possibly twice, a week while you’re in your acne treatment period. This should help in clearing acne breakouts. Be sure to moisturize afterward to prevent dryness.
2. Mask or Scrub
Both mask and scrubs help get rid of dead skin cells and relieve inflammation. Some people undergoing acne treatment find it effective to mix a little baking soda (1-2 tsp.) with warm water to form a smooth paste.
This is then massaged onto the face. It should be washed right away (as a scrub) or left for only 10 minutes (as a mask). Either way, follow it up with a moisturizer. This routine should only be done not more than twice a week.
3. Targeted Treatment
Make a paste with no more than 2 teaspoons of baking soda and water. Apply the paste only on specific acne bumps and scars only (not on unaffected areas). Leave the paste on the acne for about 20 minutes until the spot hardens or crusts over. Rinse well and apply a moisturizer.
The below video is another great DIY baking soda face treatment. She also goes into detail on how baking soda can be good for your skin:
Can Baking Soda Be Used Safely as a Deodorant?
There have been claims that baking soda can cause skin irritations, rash, and even exacerbate skin breakouts because of its alkaline and abrasive properties. While this can happen to some, it only happens when there is a very high concentration of it found in a formulation.
Deodorants with sodium bicarbonate are quite acceptable, especially if the formula is not one that is very waxy or sticky that could spell skin irritation.
Well-formulated deodorants with a lower concentration of baking soda work well since sweat is slightly acidic and counterbalances the alkaline property of the baking soda, dissolving it in the process.
However, if your skin is prone to irritation, check with your doctor first if it’s okay to use this kind of deodorant.
One of my favorites is the Nasanta Magnesium Deodorant with Baking Soda. It is free of aluminum, has magnesium and baking soda for long-lasting protection, and feels great when applied.
Some of the Other Health Benefits of Baking Soda
Now that you’ve read about how baking soda is not really bad for the skin, we’ll give you some of its other health uses and benefits:
- Soothing Sunburns and Itchiness – often recommended by healthcare experts and doctors, a baking soda bath using a few cups of baking soda and lukewarm water is sure to relieve itchiness caused by insect bites and sunburns. In most cases, baking soda is also mixed with other ingredients like oatmeal.
- Treating Calluses – these are rough skin patches that gradually develop from frequent and long-time friction (like shoes rubbing against feet). Studies have shown that soaking the affected area in warm water with baking soda can help soften calluses and lessen discomfort.
- Treating Acid Reflux – heartburn can be caused by eating spicy or greasy food, overeating or stress, and the burning sensation can be unpleasant and alarming. Drinking a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in cold water can neutralize stomach acid.
- Soothing Mouth Lesions – also called canker sores, these small ulcerations can be quite painful when touched. It’s been studied that gargling with a mouthwash that contains a pinch of baking soda can help relieve the pain caused by the sores.
Indeed, baking soda has a lot to offer health-wise, and this is only a preview of a long list of uses and benefits of this compound. But by telling you about these health benefits, we think you’d be more convinced about the positive things that baking soda can do for the body.
Conclusion – Is Baking Soda Bad for Your Skin?
Is baking soda good or bad for your skin? To say in one sweeping statement that baking soda is bad for your skin is incorrect.
It’s not exactly a mild, all-natural compound compared to most botanical-based ingredients like plant extracts/oils found in most skin-care products; however, it still brings some great benefits to the skin without causing unnecessary harm, provided that it is used with caution.
Baking soda has been known to support acne treatment in certain cases because of its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It is also an effective and all-natural deodorant.
Of course, for people with serious skin conditions and those who have super-sensitive skin, don’t just go off using baking soda just because it seems to have worked for other people.
You can always try a patch test by putting a tiny amount of baking soda on a small part of your skin and repeat daily for about a week to see how your skin reacts.
It’s always a good idea to see a trusted dermatologist who can tell you what your skin needs are.