Put the baking soda face mask down!
I’m willing to try just about anything to see if it will combat acne. I’ve exfoliated with silk, I’ve tried just about every wash, wipe, and mask on the market. But the one thing I’ll never try again? A baking soda face mask. Most DIY skin treatments won’t do me wrong, but baking soda wreaked havoc on my skin — even worse than my fungal acne woes.
Baking soda face mask: my experience
When I was an impressionable, spotty high school student I tried to use a baking soda face mask and it worked fairly well! But I overdid it and my skin was left a red, sensitive mess. The use of baking soda in acne care is becoming much more popular again. To get to the bottom of my baking soda sensitivities, I had a quick chat with Michael Lin, MD, Beverly Hills dermatologist.
What’s the deal with baking soda in skincare?
I asked Dr. Lin what baking soda can theoretically treat, skincare wise. He said that he’s heard claims that baking soda can treat acne, dark spots, and even rashes. But, he warns “there is little clinical evidence that it works.”
So why do people use baking soda face masks and washes if it hasn’t been proven to work? Dr. Lin says that people may get some exfoliating benefits from using baking soda because of it’s grainy texture. My skin? Yeah, it didn’t love that grainy texture. I was curious about what else may be at play with the reaction my skin had to baking soda all those years ago.
pH and baking soda
Dr. Lin and I got to chatting about the pH of products and our skin. In case you missed that day in science, the pH scale measures how acidic or basic a product may be. The scale goes from zero to 14 with seven as the neutral pH. If a product is below seven, it’s acidic, above, it’s basic.
Human skin, Dr. Lin says, is slightly acidic, ranging between four to five and a half. But, he says, for most people pH of products won’t be a huge deal. “Within minutes of applying a product of any pH, the skin will return to its equilibrium pH.”
The problem comes, when people have very sensitive skin (raises hand). When people have sensitive skin, Dr. Lin says, a product with too high or low pH may be damaging. For these people, Dr. Lin recommends using products with a pH close to five.
What’s the pH of baking soda you may ask? It’s nine. Nine! This isn’t the most basic thing in the world, but it’s several steps away from five.
Moral of the story? Using a baking soda face mask isn’t likely to do much more than exfoliate the skin. But, in a worst case scenario it can be super damaging.
You can check out these exfolatiants for sensitive skin instead.
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