Acne Treatments

How to Use Baking Soda for Acne

6 easy DIY treatments + a beauty bonus!

Baking soda is a cheap, versatile ingredient. There’s probably a box in your kitchen pantry—so dig it out and try these DIY baking soda for acne treatments: masks, spot treatments, power cleansers, and more!

Woman with clear skin

Baking soda might become your new “secret” skin care ingredient. It has mild anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the redness and swelling from acne. This is also why adding some to a bath can help soothe a rash, irritation or sunburn on your body.

And of course its a natural exfoliant that helps brighten and refreshes skin. Yes, it is a bit scratchy but read on to find out how to use it properly.

Why baking soda works for acne:

Baking soda has a some-what high pH 9 (alkaline). Your skins surface, made up of dead skin cells, sebum/oil, and sweat, is slightly acidic at around pH 5 (source). This difference in pHs might sound bad that is really a skin care myth—products with the same pH aren’t necessarily best for your skin.

Most soaps are alkaline, which makes them great cleansers. If you don’t overuse these alkaline products, you will have no problem maintaining your skins ideal pH—using products likes acids and soaps can actually be helpful to re-balance your skins acid mantle. So fear not!

Caveat: if you have sensitive or very dry skin, baking soda can sting and make it worse (like a soap will). So avoid using it or use just a tiny amount in your cleanser once or twice a week.

Baking soda and a spoon

What about side effects?

Overusing baking soda, such as cleansing your face with it daily, can cause inflammation and irritation. So take it easy and listen to your skin. We suggest frequencies for each of the treatments below.

Some people experience breakouts when using baking soda on skin. This could be a type of “purging” (also a bit of a myth), but it is more likely from overusing and inflammation. And pimples are inflammation.

If you do experience any irritation, just stop using it and let your skin recover.

How to Use Baking Soda for Acne

Make a power cleanser, a spot treatment to shrink pimples, and more. All the best treatments are below, plus bonus beauty uses. Enjoy!

1. Make a Power Cleanser

This is great for oily and congested skin. Use this 3 or 4 times a week depending on your skin. Increase or decrease frequency as needed.

  1. Mix 1/4teaspoon of baking soda into your normal cleanser. This is best in gentle products, such as Cetaphil cleanser. Acne cleansers may become too irritating or drying with the addition of baking soda.
  2. Simply pour some cleanser into your hand, add the soda, and mix. You might need a drop of water to help.
  3. Apply to your face and massage gently for at least 30seconds. This is the key.
  4. Really concentrate on oily, congested areas such as blackheads around the nose.
  5. Rinse off with plenty of cool water, pat dry, and moisturize.

2. Baking Soda Facial Mask

These two baking soda mask recipes are great for soothing and clearing up breakouts. Use one or both, depending on your needs!

Soothing Mask

This mask helps soothe irritation, redness and inflammation from acne and breakouts. Use it 2-4 times a week for best results.

  1. Cleanser and dry your face.
  2. In your palm or a small cup, mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda with enough water to form a wet paste.
  3. Gently apply to your skin. A mask brush might help, but hands also work.
  4. Concentrate on any pimples or inflamed areas.
  5. Leave on for 15minutes. If it starts to sting too much (a little sting is normal) rinse it off right away.
  6. Remove with plenty of cool water. Pat dry and apply moisturizer.
  7. Your skin should look bright, clear and less red!

Clearing Mask with Aspirin

Baking soda mask on woman's face

This is a powerful clearing, anti-inflammatory mask. It is excellent for large breakouts with a lot of inflammation and “pus”. The addition of natural honey gives it healing qualities, and it also helps lighten skin so can help with scars. This mask is fine two or three times a week.

  1. Grind up 3 or 4 aspirin tablets.
  2. Mix in 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of Manuka honey
  3. Apply to the inflamed, pimple areas of your face for 15minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry.
  5. Moisturize and marvel at how nice your skin looks.
  6. See more about Manuka honey for acne here.

3. Baking Soda as a Spot Treatment

This simple sport treatment is good for pimples, cysts, blackheads… and it works well for acne-prone sensitive skin because you can avoid the rest of your face. The baking soda reduces the swelling and redness of a pimple and helps draw it to a head.

  1. Simply mix a paste of baking soda and water in your palm or small bowl.
  2. Apply the paste to the pimple, cyst, or congested area (for example, your nose to help with blackheads).
  3. Leave it on for at least 20minutes—but preferably overnight!
  4. Having difficulty? Mix it with more water and apply with a cotton ball, like a toner.
  5. The baking soda will harden/cake. This is fine.
  6. Once you’re ready to rinse off, do so gently with warm water.

For extra spot reduction mix it with lemon juice instead of water—this is one of the best overnight pimple remedies. Just be very careful of the surrounded skin!

4. Loosen Up Pimples and Blackheads for Extraction

Use baking soda as a mask/exfoliant before extracting blackheads or popping pimples to help soften skin and reduce scarring.

  1. Simply mix two teaspoons of baking soda with enough water to form a paste and apply to skin for 10minutes before your squeeze session.

Be sure to read these articles about proper extraction technique:

And here’s a quick video that shows you what to expect:

5. Use it with a Cleansing Brush for Oily Skin

If you have a Clarisonic Cleansing Brush or similar, using it with baking soda can help clarify and degrease your skin. If your skin handles it well every night is fine, otherwise use it as an addition to your usual routine  two or three times a week.

  1. The ratio of water to baking soda needs to be high—it should be more like water with dissolved baking soda rather than a grainy paste. This is important because the brush is already abrasive.
  2. Apply and use your brush as usual. You might find it easier to dip the brush in the mixture, or apply it to your skin.
  3. Bonus: this also helps to keep the brush clean!

6. Baking Soda Treatment for Acne Scars

This mask treatment is an easy way to help lighten acne or pimple scars, and pigmentation. The olive oil increases its hydration, so this also works well on dry or aging skin. Do this mask at least 3 times a week for best results.

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a small bowl.
  2. If you mix the lemon juice and baking soda before adding the oil it is much easier as this dissolves the baking soda.
  3. Massage this mixture gently into skin, concentrating on any scars and pigmentation. Leave on for 15minutes.

Bonus Baking Soda Beauty Uses

We love all things skin care and beauty. So here are some fabulous ways to use baking soda, from head to toe!

  • Get baby soft feet: add a handful of baking soda to a tub of warm water and soak your feet for 15minutes. This helps soften calluses and hard, dry skin. Then buff with a pumice. Apply plenty of lotion after.
  • Degrease your hair: use it like a dry shampoo on your non-wash days. Just use a tiny amount on your scalp and add more if needed.
  • “Poof” up your hair: increase your hair’s volume by adding 1/2teaspoon baking soda to your shampoo. Be careful with colored hair however.
  • Soften, soothe, and detox your skin: add half cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide, and 1 cup of epsom salts to a warm bath.
  • Whiten your teeth: make a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and brush your teeth for 2minutes. Do this twice a week (no more as it can be harsh enamel). Also see this article for an even better way to whiten your teeth!
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