Revered since ancient times, sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda is best known today as a leavening agent or cleaning product. However, this alkaline substance actually has a surprising number of beauty applications.
Whether you are in pursuit of smoother skin, whiter teeth or healthier hair, read on to discover how humble baking soda can help you achieve your beauty goals.
1. Clarifying Shampoo
Product build-up can leave hair looking dull and feeling sticky, greasy and limp. Baking soda can clear this sludge right off, exposing the healthy, shiny and clean strands underneath.
Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with a dollop of your usual shampoo and massage it into your hair. Allow the soda to work its magic for two minutes before rinsing. Then shampoo as normal. You should notice your hair feels squeaky clean!
Because regular use of baking soda can throw off the pH balance of your hair, leading to dryness and breakage, it’s best to limit this treatment to once a month.
2. Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo is an amazingly useful product to have on hand. Apply it on those mornings you hit snooze one too many times, after a gym session, or to simply give your hair some added lift.
Baking soda makes for a fantastic all-natural dry shampoo which really keeps the oiliness in check. Use it on its own, or mixed with a few drops of essential oil – like lavender, lemon or rose – for a pleasant scent.
Those with light colored hair can just work the powder evenly through the hair, before brushing. Brunettes may need to add a little cocoa powder to the mix first to avoid a gray tinge.
3. Fix ‘Swimmers’ Hair’
If you’re a blonde who swims regularly, you probably suffer from some dullness, discoloration or even a green tinge to your hair!
One of the easiest methods of removing this build-up is by mixing a paste of baking soda and water. Coat the green areas with this paste and leave to work in for ten minutes before rinsing with clean water. Make sure to shampoo the sodium bicarbonate out and follow up with a good conditioner as this can be quite drying. Depending on how green your hair is, you may have to repeat the process a few times.
In future, soak your hair thoroughly in clean water before entering the pool. This stops the hair from taking up chlorine and other metals from the water which lead to discoloration.
4. Hair Brush Cleaner
If products can build up on your hair, then what about your hair brush? Upon close inspection, you’ll notice the bristles are covered in residue.
To remove, fill a sink or bowl with hot water and a half cup of baking soda. Soak the brush for 15 minutes before rinsing and allowing to air dry.
5. Make-Up Brush Cleaner
Want to have the best skin of your life? You’ll need to regularly wash your make-up brushes and sponges then – a task 72% of women neglect to do! This prevents to the build-up of dirt and bacteria which cause facial outbreaks!
Baking soda makes this weekly job simple! Just fill a bowl with warm water and a couple of teaspoons of the soda. One by one, add a brush to the bowl and swirl it around – you should see make-up coming off in the water. Leave the brushes to soak for 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with clean water and allowing to air dry.
6. Facial Exfoliator
Ditch your conventional facial exfoliator with microbeads for a homemade baking soda version. Those tiny plastic pellets are wreaking havoc on the environment – with an estimated 19 tons of microbeads being discharged annually into New York’s waterways alone!
Baking soda will help remove sebum and dead skin cells from the face and its antimicrobial properties will prevent skin infections – although it may be too harsh for very sensitive skin.
For a thoroughly cleansing scrub, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a few drops of water and some optional Vitamin E oil to form a paste. Massage onto the skin using circular motions, avoiding the sensitive eye area. After one to two minutes, rinse your skin with warm water followed by a cool rinse to close the pores, and pat dry.
Follow up with your favorite natural moisturizer or a little virgin coconut oil.
7. Pimple Treatment
Much like toothpaste, baking soda dries out pimples and removes excess oil. Make a paste with the sodium bicarbonate and a little water and apply to the pimple. Leave to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse off.
This same process can be used for fading the scars caused by acne.
8. Blackhead Remover
While there are many natural ways to remove blackheads, baking soda is one of the most effective.
First, gently cleanse your skin. Steam your face over a basin of hot water and then apply a paste made from one tablespoon of granulated sugar, one of baking soda and two of water. Massage in and rinse off, finishing with a splash of cold water. Repeat this treatment once a week, until you are free of blackheads.
9. Face Mask for Oily Skin
Oily skin may benefit from a weekly application of this face mask which utilizes the power of baking soda, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
As we have already seen, baking soda is a great natural exfoliator which can aid in the removal of dead skin and blackheads, while helping to treat acne breakouts. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties and is also said to balance the pH of the skin.
Use a half cup of baking soda, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and a teaspoon of lemon juice to form a paste. Apply to the skin and allow to sit for at least ten minutes before rinsing off.
Don’t have oily skin? You’ll find all-natural face mask recipes for all skin types here.
10. Hand Soap
The astringent qualities of baking soda mean it’s an excellent natural way to cut through grease and dirt. By mixing it with castile soap, essential oils and oatmeal, you will be cleansing and nourishing your hands all in one.
With a pH of 8 and natural antibacterial qualities, this soap is more gentle than most hand washes you’ll find on the market.
Follow Soap Queen’s tutorial to make this fantastic soap bar.
11. Nail Treatment
Use baking soda to both whiten your nails and exfoliate the cuticles.
For healthy cuticles, dip a nail brush into a paste made from baking soda and water. Rub this in a circular motion over the hands and fingers and rinse off.
Those with yellow nails – caused by too much bright nail polish – can blend baking soda with the juice of half of a lemon and apply to the nails. While the lemon serves to lighten and nourish, its acidity means it is best avoided if your hands have cuts or scrapes!
12. Toenail Fungus
That nasty fungus living underneath your toenails needs an acidic environment to survive, which is why alkaline baking soda is so successful at getting rid of it.
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that a blend of baking soda, tea tree oil, basil oil, sage oil and arrowroot was effective against the growth of fungal infections of the feet. Apply the mixture to the affected nails daily before putting your shoes and socks on. The old, damaged nails should soon be replaced with healthy new ones!
You can also sprinkle baking soda in your shoes when you’re not wearing them to absorb odors and kill any fungus that may be lurking in there.
Here are another 10 natural remedies for toenail fungus.
13. Body Scrub
It’s not just our faces than can benefit from a regular exfoliating routine – an all-over scrub is vital for glowing skin. That’s because our bodies shed between 30,000 and 40,000 dead skin cells every minute, leading to a dull and dry appearance.
Using simple baking soda, you can buff off these old cells and expose the fresh, new cells beneath – just use the same formula as recommended for the face.
Formed when skin is subjected to repeated irritation, pressure or friction, calluses are hard lumps comprising dead skin cells. Although rough, ugly and sometimes painful, they can be easily removed by regular baking soda treatments.
Before bed, soften the callus by soaking your feet for 30 minutes in warm water mixed with three tablespoons of baking soda. A few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus or rosemary will boost relaxation and freshen your feet.
Use the trusty baking soda and water paste to exfoliate the toughened skin before rinsing, drying and applying shea butter or another rich moisturizer. Slip on your socks and, in the morning, you will have baby soft skin. Repeat weekly as needed until the callus disappears.
15. Itchy Skin
If you have itchy skin – whether it’s from dryness, mosquito bites, razor burns or nettle stings – consider baking soda as a speedy and simple form of relief.
Apply a paste of sodium bicarbonate and water to the affected areas and allow to dry in. Then rinse with a clean towel and pat dry. Follow with a soothing moisturizer to further relieve symptoms.
16. Self-Tan Remover
When your ‘natural’ bronzed glow turns into a streaky, patchy or orange-hued disaster, don’t despair. Apply a paste of baking soda and lemon juice to the uneven patches and scrub off with a wash cloth. Shower, moisturize and voilà – your normal, healthy complexion will be restored!
There are so many reasons to switch your store-bought deodorant for a natural alternative (discover them all here).
Baking soda makes a great odor-repelling and anti-bacterial replacement for harsh, conventional antiperspirants and deodorants.
When time is of the essence, mix up a simple two-ingredient DIY deodorant made from a quarter cup of baking soda and 10 to 20 drops of an essential oil of your choice. Pat it under your arms after your shower and you’re good to go!
With slightly more ingredients, this homemade citrus deodorant is a zingy solid cream which is a little less messy than the powder recipe above. All you need is coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder and lemon essential oil.
18. Teeth Whitener
Want whiter teeth without undergoing any expensive treatments or exposing yourself to chemical-based products? Once again, baking soda has you covered.
It gently removes the staining caused by coffee, red wine, cigarettes and other dietary sources of discoloration.
While many worry that baking soda can be abrasive for teeth, tests have shown that, when used correctly, sodium bicarbonate is actually less abrasive than other toothpastes tested.
You’ll find several natural toothpaste recipes using baking soda here.
19. Freshening Mouth Rinse
Kill the bacteria that cause bad breath and reduce the risk of canker sores with a baking soda mouth rinse.
Stir a teaspoon of baking soda into half a cup of water until dissolved. Swish this around your mouth and gargle with it, making sure not to swallow. Repeat daily for healthy teeth and gums.
This is also the ideal mixture to rinse with after oil pulling.
20. Detox Bath Soak
Pair baking soda with Epsom salts for the perfect pre-bedtime soak. Not only will this duo help you eliminate toxins, but they will reduce bloating, promote a restful sleep and encourage healthy skin.
While running your bath, pour in a half cup of baking soda and a handful of Epsom salts. For added benefit, shake in a few drops of essential oil.
Relax in this soothing blend for 20 to 30 minutes, remembering to hydrate afterwards with a glass of water.
Cautions of Baking Soda on Skin
- While baking soda has a multitude of uses for hair, skin and more, it can be very drying and may even cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. To ensure baking soda is right for you, test out any treatment using sodium bicarbonate on a small patch of skin before applying liberally. Discontinue use if you experience any unwanted side effects.
- No matter your skin type, you should avoid using baking soda too regularly as it may alter the pH balance of the skin – apply no more than twice per week, or less if you have dry skin.