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Do NOT use Baking Soda on the skin!!

BAKING SODA is actually a chemical!

This is an important article about some of the science behind baking soda and how it affects the skin. Basically, by altering the skins pH, you are losing a delicate balance of enzymes, healthy bacterial flora, and the integrity of the skins ‘acid mantle’ or protective barrier. Deodorants that contain baking soda are creating a number of negative effects.

Natural Deodorants should not be called Natural if they contain this abrasive, alkalizing chemical called baking soda. The FDA should NOT allow companies to label their products as “natural” if they contain baking soda, a potentially dangerous chemical.

(thanks to Natalie Bell for the amazing info below)

(ZERO natural deodorant does not contain any harmful ingredients and is safe for all skin types)

Why baking soda should NOT be used on the skin!

Stop putting baking soda on your skin. Let me repeat that: Stop putting baking soda on your skin. Baking soda exfoliation is a total favorite of the home remedy set. I’ve seen it in a ton of places, including this article on what Emma Stone uses on her skin, and every time, it makes me cringe a little. Baking soda isn’t just ineffective, it’s actually damaging to your skin. Don’t believe me? Read below and see the science.


Baking Soda + Water is ALKALINEacid-base_graphic1

Let’s start with a little chemistry lesson. Forgive me, chemistry buffs, since this will be information you already know. We’ll start with the Brønsted-Lowry concept, which says that acids are proton donators that are able to give a proton (the hydrogen cation or H+), and bases are proton acceptors that are able to receive a proton (H+).
Bases neutralize acids by bonding with the acid’s hydrogen ion (General, Organic, and Biochemistry).

But, like it or not, the world is not a simple, black-and-white place of acids and bases. Thrown in there are also amphoteric molecules (ions). “Amphoteric” means that a substance has the ability to react with both acids and bases. And some of these amphoteric substances are also amphiprotic, which means they can donate and accept a hydrogen ion. Baking soda’s chemical name is sodium bicarbonate, and bicarbonate is an amphiprotic ion, so it can both take and lose a hydrogen ion. So, this means that baking soda reacts with acids and bases by either donating or accepting a hydrogen ion. But bicarbonate is a stronger base than it is an acid, so it’s more likely to accept a hydrogen.

When you’re making baking soda exfoliator, however, you’re mixing it with water, so the question is what’s the final pH of bicarbonate (HCO3-) and water (H2O). Here’s the chemical formula:



HCO3- + H2O → H2CO3 + OH-

See what happens there? Because it’s a stronger base, it tends to create HO-, rather than H3O+. What this means is that when you dissolve sodium bicarbonate in water, the solution tends to be more alkaline.

See That It’s Alkaline for Yourself

To really prove this, I decided to test it out and mix baking soda with water and test the pH to show you.

When we mixed baking soda and water (more than you’d use for a scrub) and tested it, the pH was about 8.

So Why Is Something Alkaline Bad for Skin?

The pH of the products you use is super important for maintaining healthy skin. Here’s how the pH scale works: It runs from 0-14 with 7 meaning neutral. Anything above 7 is considered alkaline, or a base, and anything below 7 is considered an acid. The skin naturally falls somewhere around 4.5 to 6.5, and is maintained by sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and normal skin flora, among others. This skin acidity is called the “acid mantle” (Exogenus Dermatology).

When you apply a product with a high pH, aka something alkaline, negatively disrupts the skin barrier. A study on skin products found that using an alkaline cleanser, even once, can do damage to the skin (Dermatology). An alkaline cleanser disrupts the skin’s acid mantle (affecting the skin barrier), and changes the bacterial flora composition on the skin and the activity of the enzymes in the upper layers of skin, as these have an optimal pH level. And the damage is cumulative: The longer you use it, the more damage it does to your skin.

So, with baking soda and water, you’re already disrupting the acid mantle, but you’re also manually exfoliating, making it even more damaging and drying.

Because of this, you want mildly acidic products, which help the skin hold moisture and also improve the skin barrier. But it’s important that they’re mildly acidic, as you can, in fact, go too low. If you go too low with products, you risk skin irritation, sun sensitivity, and hyperpigmentation (International Journal of Cosmetic Science). That’s why we don’t recommend that you use straight lemon juice on your skin, for example.


Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Stephanie says:


    I have terrible eczema and just tried using baking soda as a last ditch effort to clear the rash. It appears to work wonders. Better than topical steroids I’m used to using. I noticed a huge improvement in just one day. I assume my skin with eczema is too acidic and therefore the baking soda is balancing the ph in a good way for me. What are your thoughts on this remedy for those of us with this problematic disease?


  • Kieran says:

    Good read, but baking soda/sodium bicarb is NOT a “potentially dangerous chemical.” It’s actually a naturally occurring substance! And when it comes down to it, every substance is made up of atoms and therefore some sort of chemical. Good to know not to use on the skin, but that doesn’t really make it dangerous, just slightly irritating.

  • Pat says:

    I just recently started using baking soda mixed with Coconut oil to cleanse my face. It’s seems to work very well so I was sorry to read this today about it maybe not being a good thing. I wonder if mixing it with the coconut oil would actually make it Ok or not.

  • Abby kats says:

    I used banking soda on my face and after I got skin rash.what can I do?

  • Jen says:

    I got poison ivy all over my legs 2 weeks ago.
    I read about baking Soda baths helping to stop spreading it and take away itchiness.
    I used to bat( in it a few times but, a couple days ago my belly, back, Dekolleté and breast start to be very itchy. First I thought I maybe get their elision 8vy to and took again baking sids baths. It got very worse. My skin felt very irritated like, wearing a Tshirt is itchy and sometimes even painful.
    Applying creams to help the skin that it is not dry and that itchy don’t help at all.
    Nothing seems to help.
    I went t9 a doctor today and he said that is becausof the baking Soda baths.
    It is really harmful for the skin. I heard the ste monies where people with ekszema peaks it and it really helps them I d9nt know if there are side effects coming up later but for some people baking Soda don’t work at all.
    I know have to take prednisone tablets which are not good t9 help wot( the irritation and suddenly very sensitive skin.
    No good experience.

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