Baking soda is a popular DIY acne remedy. Almost everyone has a box of baking soda lying around in their house somewhere: It’s cheap, plentiful, and it’s great for cleaning things around your house. But while it’s true that baking soda may help shrivel up some of those pimples, you may be doing more harm to your skin in the long run and possibly even pave the way to worse breakouts later.
To understand why you shouldn’t use baking soda on your skin, you should know that baking soda is a strong base. It’s an alkaline, which puts its pH level somewhere at around 8. Now, consider this: Your face is covered by a natural, slightly acidic mantle. The natural pH balance of your face’s skin is somewhere between 4 and 6.
When you rinse your face with baking soda, you are literally stripping away that protective acidic mantle. That’s why it stings so much. This may not seem like a big deal, but your facial skin is slightly acidic for a reason: It helps protect your skin from bacteria and infections. When you strip away that layer, you’re leaving your skin vulnerable to damage. Even if you put aside the pH factor, baking soda is very harsh on your skin. With prolonged used, it will dry out your skin, leaving it red, irritated, and flaky.
Initially, the baking soda may take care of your worst acne problems. You may notice that your skin feels smoother. Your pimples may be smaller and appears to be less red. However, many people report that the baking soda treatment stops working after anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. They begin to experience worse breakouts than ever.
It’s worth noting that some people try to balance out the harsh effect of baking soda by following it up with apple cider vinegar diluted with water as a toner. The vinegar is acidic, and the idea is that it will restore your face to its proper pH value. The truth is, vinegar is much like baking soda in that it is a very harsh agent to use on your face. Haphazardly attempting to bring your facial skin back to its normal pH is a risky endeavor. It’s better to simply let your body’s natural pH balance alone.
The final thing to keep in mind is that DIY solutions such as baking soda are only addressing the symptoms, not the underlying cause of acne. The most effective way to control acne is to stop it before it has a chance to form. This is more tricky, since it means learning more about how acne lesions form, determining what your acne triggers are, and possibly making lifestyle changes to prevent it. However, if you want to enjoy clear skin without any nasty side effects, the effort is well worth it.