Baking soda is already one of the least expensive items in your pantry, but its uses extend far beyond your kitchen. And you may already be using this all-natural cleanser to clean your house. But, did you know that you can use baking soda for beauty purposes? Yes, it’s true; baking soda is an effective addition to your beauty arsenal.
However, you have to know how to use it properly so it doesn’t damage your skin or hair. There’s a lot of conflicting (and confusing) DIY baking soda beauty tips out there!
From foot soaks to tooth whitening, baking soda can be a workhorse when it comes to your beauty routine.
What is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is known as sodium bicarbonate. This chemical compound is made up of two things: sodium, or salt, and bicarbonate. This powdery substance can work wonders in cooking and especially baking – because it generates carbon dioxide in batter, causing the dough to rise. This process is called “leavening.”
Sodium bicarbonate is also commonly used to treat indigestion and reflux because it’s such a great acid neutralizer.1
What About Baking Powder?
Baking powder contains baking soda, but it also contains a powdered acid which allows for you to let cake batter sit for a little while before baking and still get that rise.2
All you really need to know here, since you’re going to use baking soda as part of a beauty routine, is that you want to use the purest form of sodium bicarbonate… and that’s baking soda!
So, How Can You Safely Use Baking Soda for Beauty Benefits?
You can quite literally use baking soda from head to toe, so it’s a great staple to always have on hand. But, at the same time, you shouldn’t be using it on every part of your body (sorry, Pinterest).
Let’s first take a look at some specific ways in which you can effectively use baking soda as a substitute for some key beauty products.
1. Dry Shampoo
A little sprinkling of baking soda makes for a great dry shampoo because it absorbs excess oil in an instant, and at a fraction of the cost of the average dry shampoo. Just sprinkle some baking soda onto your oily roots, and then tousle your hair until it’s all worked in evenly.
Just don’t go shampooing your entire head with a baking soda mix (see more below).
Baking soda is famed for absorbing bad smells.3 That’s why people often put a small bowl of it in their fridge. But you can add a few drops of essential oil to the powder if you’d like your hair to smell extra fresh.
Run out of deodorant and in a pickle?
Baking soda will do the trick! Baking soda is great at absorbing odors, while it’s powdery texture helps to absorb moisture. Add in those bacteria-fighting properties, and it can all help to keep that body odor at bay.
Mix together equal amounts of baking soda and cornstarch. Then apply the powder using a cotton ball, thoroughly coating your underarm region. The cornstarch will help to absorb moisture, while the baking soda will absorb odors. And even better? It won’t stain your clothes!
3. Teeth Whitening
Many popular whitening toothpastes boast baking soda as a primary ingredient. Have you ever wondered why? It’s because the abrasive nature of the baking soda can help to whiten teeth by removing stains. But don’t be concerned about hurting your teeth. A baking soda paste is actually much less abrasive than most toothpastes.4
Sprinkle a little baking soda into your palm, or a small bowl, and then dip your toothbrush into it. Brush your teeth for about a minute.
*Baking soda should never replace toothpaste for preventing cavities.
4. Brush Cleaner
Hair brushes, foundation brushes, eyeshadow brushes – they should all be cleaned regularly to avoid buildup of product residue and bacteria. But, when was the last time you actually cleaned your brushes? Most people don’t even know how they should clean their brushes.
Fill a bowl with warm water and a half cup of baking soda. Throw in all your brushes, and let them soak for 20-30 minutes. Rinse, towel dry, and then let them air out on a towel until completely dry.
You can also add a few drops of natural bleach if you’d like to disinfect your brushes even more thoroughly.
5. Foot Soak
Are you embarrassed by your feet, but don’t have time for a professional pedicure? Another reason to use baking soda for beauty purposes is that it can help to remove yellow nail stains and help smooth dry feet.
Add a little peroxide to some baking soda to scrub yellow nails, then soak your feet in a bowl of warm water with a half cup of baking soda. You can also add some fragrant essential oils to the mixture for a spa experience at home! Soak feet for 20 minutes. If you have any remaining rough spots, make a paste using a little more baking soda and water, and directly exfoliate those dry patches.
When Should You AVOID Using Baking Soda in Your Beauty Routine
The web is flooded with beauty bloggers and Pinterest gurus hailing the alternative uses of baking soda. Some of them are great tips (like above). But plenty of them are not. Unfortunately, there are some things that baking soda is just NOT safe for:
You should never use baking soda as:
- A shampoo
- A facial scrub
- A cleanser
This is for several reasons.
Firstly, baking soda is naturally abrasive. Which is useful for cleaning teeth or brushes, but not for the delicate skin on your face and scalp. It’s well known for irritating the skin and causing rashes.
Secondly, baking soda is a base which is often used to neutralize acid (like stomach acid). Healthy skin and hair are slightly acidic in nature.
So, using baking soda can actually strip your skin and scalp of its acid mantle, change the pH of your skin, and even destroy healthy bacteria. All of which leaves you open to infections and blemishes. It can also lead to dry, brittle hair.5
Helping Beauty Rise to the Occasion
Baking soda truly is a multitasking wonder, but you just need to be informed on how to use it correctly. The best thing to do if you’re unsure is to ask your dermatologist for their advice. It’s always far more legit than the latest social media post.