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Baking Soda For Acne: Is It Effective? How To Use It?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Vindhya L Veerula, MD, FAAD
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Baking Soda For Acne: Is It Effective? How To Use It? April 22, 2019

Did you know that adult acne affects about 15% of women (1)? About 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience some form of acne.

There is no denying that all of us have struggled with acne (or are still dealing with it). And in our quest to get rid of it, we become willing to try out anything under the sun, including non-conventional ingredients. One such ingredient is baking soda. Most of us might have used it for brightening our teeth, but can we use baking soda for acne and pimples? If yes, how do we go about it? Read on to find out!

Can You Use Baking Soda For Acne?

Can You Use Baking Soda For Acne Pinit

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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. However, anecdotal evidence shows that baking soda may help in minimizing your acne, depending on your skin type.

Baking soda has a drying effect on the skin, and this property helps shrink the zit and reduce inflammation. If you have oily or extremely oily and acne-prone skin, you may try a few baking soda home remedies to help minimize the inflammation and zits. Check out the next section to find out what they are.

How To Use Baking Soda For Acne And Pimples

Note: Before trying out these remedies, make sure your face is clean. Use a mild and soap-free cleanser to clean your face.

1. Baking Soda And Lemon Face Mask

Baking Soda And Lemon Face Mask Pinit

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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. It also helps kill bacteria and reduce redness (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 Honey Face Mask

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 (3). It also has bleaching properties that help fade acne scars. This mask helps prevent acne and minimize scars to give you clear skin.

3. Baking Soda And Apple Cider Vinegar Mask

Baking Soda And Apple Cider Vinegar Mask Pinit

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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

While the baking soda helps to exfoliate your skin and dry out your acne, the apple cider vinegar helps maintain the pH balance, keeping the baking soda from making your skin too alkaline. ACV contains lactic acid that helps to reduce acne (4). It also helps shrink your pores.

4. 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 also dries up the pimples, shrinking them and allowing them to heal faster.

5. Baking Soda, Yogurt, And Lemon Face Mask

Baking Soda, Yogurt, And Lemon Face Mask Pinit

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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 to shrink the skin pores and unclog them. Yogurt helps to keep your skin moisturized.

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

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 clears impurities from your skin along with acne-causing bacteria (5).

7. Baking Soda And Aloe Vera

Baking Soda And Aloe Vera Pinit

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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.

8. Baking Soda And Aspirin

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 with water.
  2. Use the cotton swab or the Q-tip to apply the paste to the affected area. 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 (6). Aspirin contains salicylic acid (which is excellent for acne) and may help reduce breakouts.

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 your skin develops no reaction, baking soda might be a useful treatment option for acne because of the following reasons.

Is Baking Soda Effective For Acne?

Is Baking Soda Effective For Acne Pinit

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  • Baking soda has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe swelling and redness. It not only helps calm down 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.

So far, you’ve read all the good things about baking soda. But, you should remember that every ingredient has a negative aspect, and baking soda is no different.

Baking Soda For Acne: Are There Any Side Effects?

Baking Soda For Acne Are There Any Side Effects Pinit

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Anything in excess is not good for the skin. The same goes for baking soda. If you use it too frequently, the following side effects may occur:

  • It might damage the protective barrier of your skin. 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. While baking soda usually doesn’t cause much damage to the skin, its excessive usage can irritate it and cause redness, breakouts, rashes, and burning sensation.
  • It might overdry your skin and cause inflammation.

There is no harm in trying out DIY remedies if you are cautious. Before using any DIY remedy, always do a patch test and understand whether it is suitable for your skin or not. If you are using baking soda for acne treatment, make sure that you limit your skin’s exposure to this substance. Hope this helps. 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.

References

  1. Skin conditions by the numbers” American Academy of Dermatology Association, US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Phytochemical , antimicrobial, and antioxidant..” Food Science & Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Medical Honey for Wound Care..” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Long term topical..” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Moisturizers for Acne” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine.
  6. Topically applied aspirin decreases..” Acta dermato-venereologica, US National Library of Medicine.

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