Skincare 101: why using baking soda on your skin is a terrible idea
For the love of all that is holy and beautiful, or just for the love of your own skin, please stop using baking soda on your skin. If you already know this, good for you! If not, read on to see why.
If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen posts touting the skincare benefits of baking soda or how to DIY masks/scrubs with baking soda. And every time I see these, I just want to pull out my hair. But instead of doing that, I’m writing this post to shed light on the truth.
Baking soda, pH levels, and the acid mantle
First, let’s talk about the acid mantle: It’s the outermost layer of our skin that help protects against bacteria, infections, water loss, and all sorts of other problems. So a healthy acid mantle = healthy skin.
Next, we’ll do a refresher on pH levels (complete with a nice graphical scale), just in case you fell asleep in chemistry class:
Water is neutral at 7, our skin (and tomatoes apparently) is at ~4.5, AHA/BHA are most effective at 3.5-4, and f***cking baking soda is at 9. This is a big deal because high alkaline levels will damage our acid mantle, which in turn can cause dryness, irritation, acne, and all sorts of problems. Yes, I’m looking at you baking soda masks and baking soda scrubs, you evil pH raising concoctions.
Thankfully our skin does have the ability to repair itself, but that doesn’t mean you should keep tearing it down with high alkaline products. In fact studies have shown that repeated use of high pH products can increase your skin’s pH level in the long run! Your skin is at a slightly acidic level for a reason – that’s when it’s healthiest. Let’s keep it that way by not using products that shoot the pH level way high, kay?
But baking soda works!
It doesn’t help that there are so many people out there raving about how amazing (*gag)* baking soda is for the skin and offering all sorts of baking soda skincare recipes. What’s even more mind blowing is that Biore joined the bandwagon and came out with their “natural” baking soda cleansers:
Seriously, WTF Biore. First of all it doesn’t matter if the baking soda is “natural” or “synthetic”, if it’s a whopping pH 9, it’s bad new for your skin. You do realize people use baking soda to clean toilets right? Personally I use it to clean my kitchen disposal, and it does a fantastic job. But your face isn’t the toilet or kitchen disposal. There are so many products especially formulated for your face, at the right pH level, and are affordable. Please use those instead. Kthxbai.
Oh and just because your skin hasn’t gone down the shitter yet doesn’t mean baking soda isn’t bad for you. It’s like smoking: you can smoke one cigarette, a pack, 10 packs, and maybe even for 20 years straight, and you’ll be fine. But sooner or later the consequences will catch up with you, because smoking causes cancer, end of story. But in case you don’t believe me…
Scientific journals & further reading
- Skin & Tonics has a fantastic post on pH levels and moisture barrier. Her post first made me aware of the danger of high pH, not just in baking soda, but in regular facial cleansers as well.
- Snow White and the Asian Pear builds on to Skin & Tonics’ post to discuss why the pH of your cleansers matter. You might also want to read her follow-up post, in case you start thinking everything low pH must therefore be good for your skin (spoiler alert: it’s not).
- Schmid-Wendtner, M.-H., and H.c. Korting. “The PH of the Skin Surface and Its Impact on the Barrier Function.” Skin Pharmacol Physiol Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 19.6 (2006): 296-302. Web.
- Schmid, M.-H., and H.c. Korting. “The Concept of the Acid Mantle of the Skin: Its Relevance for the Choice of Skin Cleansers.” Dermatology 191.4 (1995): 276-80. Web.
- Lambers, H., S. Piessens, A. Bloem, H. Pronk, and P. Finkel. “Natural Skin Surface PH Is on Average below 5, Which Is Beneficial for Its Resident Flora.” International Journal of Cosmetic Science Int J Cosmet Sci 28.5 (2006): 359-70. Web.
- Ananthapadmanabhan, K. P., David J. Moore, Kumar Subramanyan, Manoj Misra, and F. Meyer. “Cleansing without Compromise: The Impact of Cleansers on the Skin Barrier and the Technology of Mild Cleansing.“Dermatologic Therapy Dermatol Ther 17.S1 (2004): 16-25. Web.
Hopefully this post has provided some insight and persuaded you from making a terrible mistake with baking soda. If you’ve found this helpful/enlightening, please share on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook! Thank you!