You wouldn’t think twice about using a dash of it in a recipe, but would you add baking soda to your beauty routine?
This unassuming pantry staple has a surprising number of applications outside the kitchen, including plenty of DIY beauty treatments.
Here are eight ways to use this versatile ingredient for a quick beauty fix – as well as three ways you should never be using baking soda on your skin, hair, and body.
Clean your hairbrush with a baking soda bath.
If you look closely at your hairbrush, you might discover a layer of gunk and grime at the base of the bristles. The Houston Chronicle recommended a quick baking soda bath to banish this buildup.
Clean your hair out of the brush before soaking it in a solution made of warm water and a teaspoon of baking soda. Leave it submerged for about half an hour and dry the brush well before using it.
Skip exfoliating scrubs and use baking soda instead.
There’s nothing like the satisfying smoothness of freshly exfoliated skin. However, many commercial exfoliants rely on plastic microbeads to give you that just-scrubbed feeling. These tiny particles are usually missed by water filtration systems and can end up in the environment, where they’re frequently consumed by aquatic life.
Make your own bead-less exfoliant by combining baking soda and water to form a gritty paste. Use gentle circular motions to rub the mixture across your face and rinse with cool water. It’s important to test it on your arm first to ensure you don’t have a negative reaction.
Remove plaque buildup on your teeth with a baking soda toothpaste.
However, you shouldn’t add baking soda to your daily brushing routine. Speaking to Self about alternative toothpastes, the director of the New York Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, Emanuel Layliev, DDS, recommended only using baking soda toothpaste once in a while.
“Although baking soda does help to remove plaque, it doesn’t kill any bacteria, and that can actually increase cavity formation in your teeth,” he said. According to Layliev, overusing baking soda could also damage the enamel on your teeth.
Smooth the surface of your nails with a gentle baking soda scrub.
“Combine three parts baking soda and one part water to create a gentle yet effective scrub to buff and exfoliate nails,” Julie Kandalec, the creative director at Paintbox in New York City, told Allure. “Rub gently in circular motions over hands and fingers to seriously smooth the nail surface.”
Treat athlete’s foot with baking soda.
Speaking to Prevention, podiatric surgeon Suzanne M. Levine recommended applying a baking soda paste to treat fungal infections on your feet or between your toes. According to Levine, simply add one tablespoon of the ingredient to a bit of lukewarm water.
Then, rub the resulting paste on your infection before rinsing and drying your feet thoroughly. Don’t forget to apply baby powder after to keep your feet free of moisture.
It’s worth noting, however, that more research is needed on the antifungal abilities of baking soda.
Use baking soda to remove a fake tan.
Banish the patchy-looking remains of your faux tan with a simple baking soda scrub.
“A mix of baking soda and coconut oil is an easy, gentle way to exfoliate away your leftover self-tanner or spray tan,” Jenny Patinkin, makeup artist and author of “Lazy Perfection,” told Well + Good.
You can also use this trick to remove any tanner mistakes caused by drips or letting the product sit on your hands for too long.
Similarly, Marie Claire recommended mixing two tablespoons of baking soda with some water and rubbing the paste over your fake tan.
Consider using baking soda as a natural deodorant alternative.
If you’re looking for a DIY or natural deodorant solution, baking soda may be a good place to start.
Mother Nature Network recommended mixing one-eighth of a teaspoon of baking soda with a bit of water and rubbing the paste under your arms. You could also combine one part baking soda with six parts cornstarch and dust the powder on your armpits.
However, some people might have an adverse reaction to baking soda deodorant. Stop using baking soda on your underarms if you notice any burning, redness, or itching.
Keep in mind you should not repeatedly use baking soda on your skin.
Baking soda is mildly alkaline: It has a pH level of nine. Your skin and scalp, on the other hand, are slightly acidic. According to Women’s Health, this acidity helps keep your skin moisturized and free of harmful bacteria.
When you overuse baking soda on the skin – say, by applying it daily as a deodorant or skin scrub – you’re disrupting the delicate pH balance of your skin. This can lead to irritation, itching, redness, burning, and even rashes. If you want to use baking soda as a skin treatment, do so sparingly and stop immediately if you notice any irritation.
You should also avoid frequently applying it to your hair.
Even though baking soda can work wonders in terms of cleansing your hair of buildup, you shouldn’t make baking soda part of your daily hair care routine.
The reason is that, like your skin, your hair is acidic. Repeatedly applying baking soda to your tresses in the form of rinses, pastes, or masks can cause frizzing and breakage over time.
Baking soda definitely shouldn’t be used for weight loss.
“There would be no physiologic reason sodium bicarbonate would increase weight loss, except perhaps to make a person feel more full, decreasing caloric intake,” Rachele Pojednic, assistant professor of nutrition at Simmons College, told Women’s Health.
In fact, taking baking soda for weight loss can have some scary side effects.
“Overdosing can cause diarrhoea and, therefore, contribute to important water loss. This greatly increases the risk of dehydration and of dangerous electrolyte loss, especially if done regularly,” registered nutritional therapist Olivier Sanchez told the Press Association.
Sticking to a healthy diet and exercise is a far better way to lose weight than sipping on baking soda.
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