Baking soda is an effective and inexpensive way to create face and body products that leave skin looking and feeling soft and clean. It is natural, free of chemicals and has antibacterial properties that combat acne and dry skin. It also serves as an exfoliant and can be combined with other natural ingredients to soothe and soften rough skin.
Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate, bicarb and bicarbonate of soda. It is a white powder with an alkaline taste, identified by the symbol NaHCO3. It is a component of the mineral natron and is found in its natural state dissolved in mineral springs around the world, making it cost effective and readily available.
An ancient Egyptian document, the Ebers Medical Papyrus that dates back to 1500 B.C., mentions the use of natron mixed with oils as a washing soap. It's been recorded in Chinese texts as a mouthwash and treatment for gum diseases. It was introduced to Americans by the English; production in the United States began in 1839.
Uses in Skin Care
Baking soda granules can be used mixed with water as a mildly abrasive exfoliant. It strips away the dead skin on the top layer without any harsh chemicals that can damage the skin. It can also be used mixed with apple cider vinegar, which acts as a toner and an astringent, and used with a washcloth for an all-over body scrub.
Acne is caused when excessive sebum is produced, blocking the skin's pores and allowing bacteria to get trapped within. The body's immune system attacks the bacteria leaving the skin around the area inflamed. According to UBeautyPortal.com, bacteria require an acidic setting to multiply. The alkaline nature of baking soda prevents this from happening. In addition to neutralizing the acid, baking soda also helps keeps pores open and absorbs excess oil from the skin. To use this effectively, prepare a paste mixing two parts water with one part baking soda. Adjust the quantities if need be till it forms a thick consistency. Make sure your skin is cleansed and leave the face damp. Massage the paste onto your face in small circular motions. Leave on for five to 10 minutes, or until dry, before rising clean with fresh water.
You can also add baking soda to a foot or body bath in place of oils or bath salts to soften calluses and dry skin. Or, a paste of baking soda and water smoothed over a heat rash, sunburn or insect bite can help relieve itchiness and stinging.
Baking soda can have an over-drying effect on the skin. To counteract this, begin any treatment slowly. Try using it as an exfoliant or in face masks once a week; if you see improvement, you can begin to use it more frequently.
Baking soda can also be used in hair care, as a shampoo. AnUntraditionalHome.com offers a recipe which includes mixing 2 tbsp. baking soda with 1 cup of vinegar. Apply directly to the scalp, working your way through the hair. Rinse well with fresh water. You can use it as a tooth-whitening agent by applying a few granules to your toothpaste and brushing your teeth. The granules have both a scrubbing and whitening effect on teeth. Apply baking soda to a powder puff and dust it under your arms to make a chemical-free deodorant. Baking soda is also safe to use in a bath to relieve diaper rash for infants and toddlers.