Does a baking soda scrub help acne? Used in the right way, baking soda masks sometimes make a difference in acne. But they are not for everyone who has acne.
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- Baking soda can be used to make safe, inexpensive treatments for acne.
- A baking soda mask used to treat facial acne once a week can loosen tough skin around blackheads and soothe inflammation around pimples.
- Baking soda can stop the sting caused by alpha- or beta-hydroxy acid treatments for toning the skin.
- Alternating baking soda masks and vinegar soaks, used on different days, can slowly erase acne scars and brown pigmentation left when acne heals.
- Baking soda added to shampoo (1/2 teaspoon to a bottle) can help reduce accumulation of hair care products that causes acne at the hair line and on the forehead.
How to Use Baking Soda to Treat Acne
The way baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is used to treat acne is in the form of a baking soda mask. It’s extremely simple to make a baking soda mask for acne. Simply spoon out about 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of baking soda into a clean bowl. Add warm tap water until the mixture makes a thin slurry that is moist enough to spread across your skin but firm enough that it does not drip off your skin. If you make the mixture too thin, add more baking soda, and if you make the mixture too thick, add more water. Don’t add anything but water to your baking soda mask.
Splash your face with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel. This step helps the baking soda mask stick to your face. Then spread the baking soda mask all over your face but keep the mixture out of your eyes. Allow the mask to dry for 15 to 30 minutes, and then rinse your face with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel once again. Repeat the treatment about once a week.
You get the greatest benefits from baking soda you take from a fresh box. The baking soda you have had sitting in your refrigerator for weeks or the baking soda that has been sitting on a shelf in your cupboard for months may already have reacted with other chemicals. It is useful as a scrub, but not for alkalizing your skin.
Who Benefits from Baking Soda Masks?
Some people have extremely sensitive skin. Since most of the irritants of sensitive skin are acidic and baking soda is alkaline, a baking soda mask can neutralize some of the chemicals that cause skin irritation. The baking soda mask adheres to clumps of dead skin as it dries, and rinsing off the mask rinses off dead skin cells along with it. Baking soda masks neutralize all kinds of acids, and can soothe the skin after treatment with glycolic (alpha-hydroxy) or salicylic (beta-hydroxy) acid exfoliants.
Baking soda also “calms” the skin. In the very topmost layers of cells in the epidermis, the tough outer layer of the skin, small amounts of bicarbonate from the baking soda can enter the skin. The bicarbonate encourages the transportation of sodium into these cells. Their metabolisms slow down so they go into their normal life cycle, dying about 21 days after they are formed in the basal layers of the skin.
As the top layers of skin flake away, newer and healthier skin cells can come to the surface. They add more natural color to the skin, and they loosen the skin around tight pores.
Do Baking Soda Masks Really Work?
There is no doubt that baking soda masks can neutralize excess acids applied to the skin. They are also useful for soothing itchy skin, especially when the itch is caused by eczema or contact dermatitis. They can reduce foul odors caused by certain kinds of skin infection.
When Is It a Bad Idea to Use a Baking Soda Mask?
Baking soda is fine for soothing the skin after you use a skin toning exfoliant such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid. But using baking soda before you use glycolic or salicylic acid will neutralize the product and make it useless.
What About Baking Soda and Vinegar Used Together?
Some people suggest mixing baking soda with vinegar for use as a face mask. If you dump the vinegar into the baking soda all at once, the mixture will just fizz all over the table where you are mixing your mask. This just makes a mess.
A slow mixture of vinegar into baking soda drop by drop makes an exfoliant scrub that may pick up loose flakes of dried skin and leave your complexion looking a little more deeply colored. However, the only advantage of using baking soda and vinegar mixed in the same bowl is as a scrub, and alpha-hydroxy (glycolic) and beta-hydroxy (salicylic) acids are much more useful for this purpose.
What About Alternating Baking Soda Masks with Apple Cider Vinegar Soaks?
Some days you can use a baking soda mask to exfoliate your skin, removing dead skin and loosening blackheads and whiteheads, while encouraging growth of collagen to fill in indented acne scars. Other days you can dab a clean cloth soaked in vinegar on your face (don’t forget to rinse 15 minutes later) and also remove dead skin and loosen blackheads and whiteheads while encouraging the growth of collagen to fill in indented acne scars.
Neither treatment is going to produce dramatic results on your skin. Both treatments will give you modest results no matter what your type of skin without any danger of harmful side effects.
Other Uses of Baking Soda in Acne Skin Care
Baking soda has many other uses in acne skin care.
- A baking soda bath (add 1/2 cup or 100 grams of baking soda to warm bath water) helps refresh the skin after exposure to heavily chlorinated swimming pool water. This will also help prevent breakouts caused by Pseudomonas infections of the skin.
- Adding half a teaspoon (2 or 3 grams) of baking soda added to a bottle of shampoo will help get rid of mousse and volumizer, reducing acne on the top of the forehead at the hair line.
- A clean wash cloth dipped in a mixture of 1/2 cup (120 ml) of cool water mixed with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of baking soda well stirred together can help relieve sunburn and may slow down the formation of pigment in the skin.
- A sponge bath with the same baking soda and water mixture may help loosen up the skin around blackheads on the back.
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