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Is It Safe To Use Baking Soda To Treat Acne?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Vindhya L Veerula, MD, FAAD
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Is It Safe To Use Baking Soda To Treat Acne? Hyderabd040-395603080 December 20, 2019

There is tons of anecdotal evidence claiming the benefits of baking soda for acne and acne scars. However, there is no scientifical evidence that proves these benefits of baking soda, and it is not a recommended medical treatment for acne. It is a folk remedy for teeth-whitening and soothing mild acne, rashes, indigestion, and bug bites. In fact, baking soda can do more harm than good. Therefore, you need to be extremely careful when using baking soda for acne and pimples. In this article, we have discussed everything you need to know about using baking soda on your skin and for acne.

Can You Use Baking Soda For Acne? Is It Effective?

Anecdotal evidence claims that baking soda is effective for acne. However, there hasn’t been any research to evaluate whether baking soda works for acne or not. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved this popular home remedy for acne. The advocates of this popular home remedy believe that baking soda may help in minimizing your acne, depending on your skin type.

It is claimed that baking soda has a drying effect on the skin, and this property helps shrink the zit and reduce inflammation. It is also said to help in the following ways:

  • Baking soda has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe swelling and redness. It not only helps calm flare-ups, but also soothes rashes, irritation, and sunburn.
  • Baking soda is a physical exfoliant. It has fine particles that dislodge dirt and dead skin cells from your pores. It also causes relatively less irritation than most exfoliators while being more efficient.
  • It not only helps fight and prevent acne but also minimizes the appearance of acne scars and pigmentation.
  • It helps absorb the excess oil from your skin. This, in turn, dries out pimples and blemishes, helping them heal faster.

If you have oily or extremely oily and acne-prone skin, you may try using baking soda. However, there is no scientific research that proves that baking soda is good for acne or your skin, so you need to be very careful while using this ingredient. Baking soda can cause severe discomfort if it does not suit your skin or if you overuse it. Check them out in the next section.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Using Baking Soda For Acne?

Yes, there are a few risks associated with using baking soda on your skin. Anything in excess is not good for the skin. The same goes for baking soda. If you use it too frequently or if it does not suit your skin, the following side effects may occur:

  • It might damage the protective barrier of your skin and worsen your acne. This is because the pH of your skin is slightly on the acidic side (which is crucial for maintaining a balance). When you apply baking soda, it removes the acidic protective barrier and leaves it vulnerable to breakouts and bacteria.
  • It can irritate your skin. Baking soda has a drying effect, and if you use it on your skin (or use it too frequently), it may irritate the skin and cause redness, breakouts, rashes, and burning sensation.
  • It might overdry your skin and cause inflammation.

The average natural pH of the skin (without showering and using any cosmetic products) is 4.7. It usually ranges between 4.5 and 5.5. On the pH scale, anything below 7 is acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline. While our skin is acidic, baking soda has a pH of 9, which is alkaline. When you apply an alkaline ingredient to your skin, it naturally strips away its natural oils, leaving it exposed to UV rays, bacteria, and environmental damage.

Although it is not recommended, you can try a few baking soda recipes to control inflammation. Make sure that you only use the recommended amount of baking and do not exceed that. Also, do not follow any of these recipes more than once a week.

How To Use Baking Soda For Acne

1. Baking Soda And Lemon

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Method
  1. Mix baking soda, water, and lemon juice in a bowl. Make a smooth paste.
  2. Apply a thin layer of the paste on your face and leave it on for 15 minutes or until it dries.
  3. Wash your face with cold water.
  4. Follow up with a moisturizer or skin serum.
  5. Use this face mask twice a week.
Why This Works

Lemon juice helps control oil production in your skin while shrinking your pores with the help of its astringent properties (1). It also has antimicrobial properties that may help kill acne-causing bacteria (2).

Caution: Lemon juice can make your skin sensitive to sunlight, which may result in sunburns. Hence, make sure to apply sunscreen before you step out.

2. Baking Soda And Water

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1-2 tablespoons water (adjust the quantity)
Method
  1. Mix baking soda and water. Adjust the quantity of water to make a smooth paste.
  2. Apply the paste only on the affected areas. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then wash with cold water.
  3. Follow up with a moisturizer. Do this twice a week.
Why This Works

Baking soda removes the accumulated dirt and dead skin cells from the pores. It is also said to dry up the pimples, shrinking them and allowing them to heal faster.

3. Baking Soda And Apple Cider Vinegar

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Method
  1. Dilute the apple cider vinegar with water.
  2. Add baking soda to the ACV-water mixture.
  3. Apply the paste on the affected areas (like spot treatment). Leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Wash with cold water.
  5. Apply moisturizer.
  6. Do this twice a week.
Why This Works

Apple cider vinegar is said to help maintain the pH balance, keeping the baking soda from making your skin too alkaline. ACV also contains lactic acid that might help reduce acne (3).

4. Baking Soda And Honey

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon organic honey
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Washcloth
  • Warm water
Method
  1. Mix baking soda and honey in a bowl.
  2. Apply the paste all over your face or just on the affected area.
  3. Dip the washcloth in warm water and wring it. Place it on your face and wait for 5 minutes.
  4. Once the washcloth has cooled down, wipe the mask with it.
  5. Wash your face with cold water and apply moisturizer.
  6. Repeat this 2-3 times a week.
Why This Works

Honey is a humectant that binds moisture to your skin (4). This mask may help prevent acne and give you clear skin.

5. Baking Soda And Aloe Vera

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
Method
  1. Mix both the ingredients and make a paste.
  2. Use your fingers to apply the mixture on the affected area. Leave it to dry for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Wash your face with cold water.
  4. Follow up with a moisturizer.
  5. Repeat this treatment 2-3 times a week.
Why This Works

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (5). This mixture reduces redness and inflammation and helps in fast healing of acne.

6. Baking Soda And Witch Hazel

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • A few drops of witch hazel (adjust the quantity as per need)A Q-tip
Method
  1. Mix the baking soda and witch hazel in a bowl.
  2. Use the Q-tip to apply the paste on the affected area (just as tiny dots on the acne). Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then wash your face with lukewarm water.
  3. Follow it up with a moisturizer.
  4. Repeat this remedy 2-3 times a week.
Why This Works

Witch hazel is a natural astringent that unclogs your skin pores and tightens them. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect on your skin (5). Thus, it can help reduce the redness and irritation caused by acne.

7. Baking Soda, Yogurt, And Lemon

You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon yogurt
  • 1 drop lemon juice or lemon essential oil
Method
  1. Mix all the ingredients to prepare a creamy paste-like mixture.
  2. Apply it on the affected areas and leave it on for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat it dry.
  4. Follow up with a face serum or moisturizer.
Why This Works

Lemon, along with baking soda, helps shrink the skin pores and unclog them. Yogurt helps keep your skin moisturized (6).

Note: If you have highly sensitive skin, dilute the lemon juice with water before using it.

8. Baking Soda And Aspirin (For Spot Treatment)

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 aspirin tablets (crushed)
  • Water (as per requirement)
  • A cotton swab or Q-tip
Method
  1. Combine the baking soda and aspirin tablets in a bowl and mix them with water.
  2. Use the cotton swab or the Q-tip to apply the paste to the affected area as spot treatment. Leave it on for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash with lukewarm water.
  4. Pat your skin dry and apply a moisturizer.
Why This Works

Although no study shows that topical aspirin heals acne, it may help reduce inflammation (7). Aspirin contains salicylic acid (which is excellent for acne) and may help reduce breakouts (8).

These baking soda recipes are pretty easy to follow. However, do a patch test before you try out any of these remedies to check if baking soda suits your skin. If you don’t notice any redness or irritation, you may try out these baking soda home remedies for acne.

If you are using baking soda for acne treatment, make sure that you limit your skin’s exposure to this substance. If you have any more questions, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is baking soda good for acne scars?

According to anecdotal evidence, it seems that baking soda might help reduce their appearance, but there is no scientific proof to back this up.

Can you leave baking soda on your face overnight?

Absolutely not! It will damage the skin.

Is it safe to use baking soda on the face every day?

Not really. If you do, it will damage the skin’s protective barrier.

8 sources

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Ramona Sinha

Ramona has a Master's degree in English Literature. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps readers select products and ingredients specific to their skin type and gives out tips to keep their skin healthy in a natural way. When Ramona is not working or experimenting with a new skin care product or ingredient, her books and a passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.