Revered since ancient times, sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda is best known today as a leavening agent or cleaning product. However, this alkaline substance actually has a surprising number of beauty applications.
Whether you are in pursuit of smoother skin, whiter teeth or healthier hair, read on to discover how humble baking soda can help you achieve your beauty goals.
1. Pimple Treatment
Much like toothpaste, baking soda dries out pimples and removes excess oil. Make a paste with the sodium bicarbonate and a little water and apply to the pimple. Leave to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse off.
2. Blackhead Remover
While there are many natural ways to remove blackheads, baking soda is one of the most effective.
First, gently cleanse your skin. Steam your face over a basin of hot water and then apply a paste made from one tablespoon of granulated sugar, one of baking soda and two of water. Massage in and rinse off, finishing with a splash of cold water. Repeat this treatment once a week, until you are free of blackheads.
3. Clarifying Shampoo
Product build-up can leave hair looking dull and feeling sticky, greasy and limp. Baking soda can clear this sludge right off, exposing the healthy, shiny and clean strands underneath.
Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with a dollop of your usual shampoo and massage it into your hair. Allow the soda to work its magic for two minutes before rinsing. Then shampoo as normal. You should notice your hair feels squeaky clean!
Because regular use of baking soda can throw off the pH balance of your hair, leading to dryness and breakage, it’s best to limit this treatment to once a month.
4. Nail Treatment
Use baking soda to both whiten your nails and exfoliate the cuticles.
For healthy cuticles, dip a nail brush into a paste made from baking soda and water. Rub this in a circular motion over the hands and fingers and rinse off.
Those with yellow nails – caused by too much bright nail polish – can blend baking soda with the juice of half of a lemon and apply to the nails. While the lemon serves to lighten and nourish, its acidity means it is best avoided if your hands have cuts or scrapes!
Formed when skin is subjected to repeated irritation, pressure or friction, calluses are hard lumps comprising dead skin cells. Although rough, ugly and sometimes painful, they can be easily removed by regular baking soda treatments.
Before bed, soften the callus by soaking your feet for 30 minutes in warm water mixed with three tablespoons of baking soda. A few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus or rosemary will boost relaxation and freshen your feet.
Use the trusty baking soda and water paste to exfoliate the toughened skin before rinsing, drying and applying shea butter or another rich moisturizer. Slip on your socks and, in the morning, you will have baby soft skin. Repeat weekly as needed until the callus disappears.
6. Face Mask for Oily Skin
Oily skin may benefit from a weekly application of this face mask which utilizes the power of baking soda, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
As we have already seen, baking soda is a great natural exfoliator which can aid in the removal of dead skin and blackheads, while helping to treat acne breakouts. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties and is also said to balance the pH of the skin.
Use a half cup of baking soda, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and a teaspoon of lemon juice to form a paste. Apply to the skin and allow to sit for at least ten minutes before rinsing off.
7. Teeth Whitener
Want whiter teeth without undergoing any expensive treatments or exposing yourself to chemical-based products? Once again, baking soda has you covered.
It gently removes the staining caused by coffee, red wine, cigarettes and other dietary sources of discoloration.
While many worry that baking soda can be abrasive for teeth, tests have shown that, when used correctly, sodium bicarbonate is actually less abrasive than other toothpastes tested.
You’ll find several natural toothpaste recipes using baking soda here.
8. Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo is an amazingly useful product to have on hand. Apply it on those mornings you hit snooze one too many times, after a gym session, or to simply give your hair some added lift.
Baking soda makes for a fantastic all-natural dry shampoo which really keeps the oiliness in check. Use it on its own, or mixed with a few drops of essential oil – like lavender, lemon or rose – for a pleasant scent.
Those with light colored hair can just work the powder evenly through the hair, before brushing. Brunettes may need to add a little cocoa powder to the mix first to avoid a gray tinge.
9. Detox Bath Soak
Pair baking soda with bath salts for the perfect pre-bedtime soak. Not only will this duo help you eliminate toxins, but they will reduce bloating, promote a restful sleep and encourage healthy skin.
While running your bath, pour in a half cup of baking soda and a handful of bath salts. For added benefit, shake in a few drops of essential oil.
Relax in this soothing blend for 20 to 30 minutes, remembering to hydrate afterwards with a glass of water.
10. Facial Scrub
Love that deep-clean feeling you get from a facial scrub with microbeads? These products may do wonders for your skin, but they’re also doing a number on our environment. These tiny plastic beads slip through water filtration systems and are making their way into our streams and oceans, posing risk to fish and other wildlife.
A safe alternative: Make your own exfoliating facial scrub using baking soda. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Rub onto your face with gentle, circular strokes, then rinse with warm water.