FYI, DIY Baking Soda Scrubs Are Not The Answer To Your Skin Woes

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DIY skincare can be a cost-effective way to smooth and brighten your complexion, often using items already stocked in your pantry. That's the case with DIY baking soda scrubs, which have been making the rounds on the internet for a while. Dermatologist Dr. Dray covered them in a 2021 video, baking soda brand Arm & Hammer (unsurprisingly) endorses them, and countless TikTokers recommend using them to treat common skin issues. The claims are as follows: Applying baking soda to your face and body will exfoliate, get rid of acne and razor burn, banish blackheads, and lighten dark patches.


The super simple scrub is usually a combination of baking soda and water (and sometimes other kitchen ingredients, like lemon juice), rubbed or left on the skin after cleansing. It may sound harmless enough. After all, if you can eat baking soda, why shouldn't it be put on your face? However, there are some serious downsides to this skincare hack you should know before you try it.

Baking soda can worsen skin issues

Baking soda may be a staple item for deodorizing your fridge or removing stains from your bathtub, but many experts warn against using it on your face. "While it is cheap and accessible, baking soda does not belong on the skin," Dr. Kunal Malik, a board-certified general and cosmetic dermatologist, revealed to PopSugar. "It has a very alkaline pH and can be very harsh and disruptive to the skin's barrier, leading to dryness and dermatitis." Healthline adds that messing with the skin's natural pH level can strip the protective layer, making you more prone to infection and acne.


Baking soda can also be irritating, causing rashes, redness, dryness, and burning. If you have dry or sensitive skin or if you're using other exfoliators in your routine, it's best to steer clear of baking soda scrubs.

This doesn't mean baking soda never belongs in skincare. Paula's Choice, a science-backed skincare brand, notes that baking soda is sometimes added to cosmetics and is safe in small amounts. However, when it's the primary ingredient — like in DIY scrubs — it's considered too harsh for most skin types.

What to use instead of baking soda

Exfoliation is important, and scrubs are one way to buff away old, dead skin cells, but baking soda borrowed from your kitchen isn't the best way to do it. If you're a DIY queen (or king) who prefers to whip up their own clean beauty concoctions, try oatmeal instead of baking soda. Medical News Today claims that finely ground oats exfoliate while soothing an irritated complexion. Mix with water to make a paste, or combine with nourishing honey and egg whites to create a powerful face mask for oily, acne-prone skin.


Chemical exfoliants can also slough away roughness without the use of abrasive scrubs. Not sure what to look for? Healthline suggests alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for dry and mature skin, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) for acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation, and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) for sensitive skin conditions.

Whether you're exfoliating to prevent acne or deal with dullness, it's never a good idea to overdo it. While daily exfoliation is often frowned upon, the exact frequency depends on the products you choose and your skin's current condition. "You have to listen to your skin," Dermatologist Ranella Hirsch told Allure. "Something that's right at one moment can shift in real time. Just listen and adapt."