Is Baking soda safe to use on face? Differing opinions

Hello Beautybrains,
I always used to use baking soda as an exfoliant for my face. I used it about twice a week. There are differing opinions as to whether it is OK to use baking soda as an exfoliant. Many people advocate baking soda as an exfoliant because they say it is "natural" and not very abrasive compared to other exfoliants. You have also recommended baking soda as an exfoliant as well. My concern is, is there any truth to the concern that baking soda is too harsh to use on the face, since the pH is highly basic, and it can supposedly disrupt the skin mantle? For instance, Futurederm is strongly against using baking soda, and she gives a pretty reasonable explanation:

What do you think Beautybrains? I respect everyone's opinions, but I'd especially like your insights on this, and whether it is truly OK for my skin if I use this as an exfoliator. Should I stop using baking soda as an exfoliant? Am I doing permanent damage to my skin by continuing to use baking soda? 


  • In the past we've been rather indifferent to using baking soda as a facial scrub. But as we were researching the skin's acid mantle for an upcoming podcast we came across data on how much the high pH of baking soda retards the restoration of the skin's acid pH. That means using baking soda can leave the skin more vulnerable to moisture loss and to invasive bacteria. We say stay away from it! 
  • Hi Randy,
    I really appreciate your response, thank you. What alternative budget-friendly exfoliants would you recommend instead? I was thinking about using a washcloth, since many of the exfoliants available on the market are either too abrasive (like st Ives scrubs), or they are too expensive. Is it possible to make a homemade exfoliant that is just as effective as baking soda, but not as harmful? I am perfectly fine with buying commercial scrubs and exfoliants, its just that it is more convenient to use stuff already at home. (Which is why I used baking soda in the first place - not because it was "natural", but because it was convenient). What do you suggest/recommend?
  • For mild exfoliation a washcloth is certainly fine. Products with which use polyethylene beads are mild to skin but these may soon be banned due to environmental concerns. 

    Does anybody else out there in the Forum have a recommendation for Janelle?  
  • What about sugar or salt?
    Actually, do you really need to exfoliate the skin on your face? I haven't seen any benefit from doing it and most of the time it makes me break out. But I sometimes use sea salt mixed with oil for my body, that's OK, right?
  • I have used brown sugar mixed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil with great success. I suppose you could use white sugar instead of brown, but it would be grainier. As with any scrub, be gentle with the skin on your face.  The brown sugar & EVOO mix is also great for a body scrub.
  • Hi everyone, thanks for your suggestions. I will try the brown sugar. With regards to the salt, is it OK to use regular salt, or are you referring to sea salt?
  • I have used regular salt mixed with EVOO - which happens to be a favorite of mine and used for many things. I found it to be more drying than a sugar scrub and more gritty . Or maybe it was just my perception of it?  

  • I would definitely go the washcloth way. They're washable and you would only ever buy one or two. Definitely economical. I have muslin cloths that came with some Liz Earle cleanser, which I bought many years ago, and I still keep and use those cloths on occasion. Just wash them with my towels. Presto.Very gentle, but thorough mechanical exfoliation. However, on a regular basis I still always prefer AHA/BHA based exfoliants.
  • I would say just buy a formulated scrub and don't make them yourself.
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