Once upon a time, I thought exfoliating with baking soda was a wonderful idea. It’s cheap. Natural. Does the job well. What could go wrong?
Everything. Turns out, baking soda ain’t as harmless as it seems…
The Acid Mantle – And Why pH Matters
Did you know your skin has a protective, slightly acidic layer called the acid mantle?
Made up of sweat and sebum, the acid mantle is home to thousands of harmless bacteria. Its job is to protect skin by killing BAD bacteria before they have a chance to enter your body. It also keeps moisture in, so skin stays soft and hydrated.
The acidity of the mantle is key. A healthy acid mantle has a pH between 4.2 and 5.6. Most skincare products are formulated within this range to be compatible with your skin.
Baking soda? It has a pH of 7. That’s way too alkaline for your skin. In plain English, it means it can disrupt the acid mantle, leading to all kinds of trouble.
Why you shouldn’t use baking soda to exfoliate skin
A 1997 study found that alkaline cleansers irritate “the physiological protective ‘acid mantle'”, change “the composition of the cutaneous bacterial flora and the activity of enzymes in the upper epidermis” and dissolve fats from the skin surface which may lead “to a dry and squamous skin.”
Translation: alkaline cleansers kill good bacteria, make bad ones proliferate and destroy your skin’s acid mantle. Baking soda isn’t technically a cleanser, but it’s alkaline.
Baking soda has a ph of 8, high enough to disrupt the acid mantle. This damage is cumulative. The more you use it, the worse your skin gets.
That’s not all. Baking soda is a manual exfoliant. That means it’s the scrubbing motion that gets rid of dead skin cells. Scrub away a minute too long and you can seriously irritate your skin!
The Bottom Line
I love a good home remedy, but exfoliating with baking soda is just asking for trouble. Don’t do it!
Do you exfoliate with baking soda? Share your experience in the comments below.
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