Baking Soda Home Exfoliation – Beware!

Living near Beverly Hills, I guess I am destined to hear about celebrity skincare fads, like the “easy celebrity beauty trick” I just read about – using baking soda as an exfoliant. I usually do little more than raise my eyebrows when I see these, but this one is worth discussing because it can be dangerous.

Dr. John Layke, of the Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Group, discussed baking soda facial scrubs in a recent newsletter he distributes.  Dr. Layke explains that people refer to this baking soda scrub as “at home microdermabrasion.” Baking soda’s texture is mildly abrasive but not overly gritty, so it may seem reasonable to believe that it could exfoliate dull, dead skin cells effectively. However, the chemistry doesn’t jive.

According to Dr. Layke, the skin’s chemical makeup is mildly acidic, which is necessary to maintain the correct balance of good bacterias, oils, and nutrients. This explains why every single skin care product on the market is pH balanced; the wrong pH can damage the skin.

“But baking soda isn’t a skincare product – it’s a household cleaning chemical,” states Dr. Layke. Its chemistry is actually the complete opposite of what your skin needs, as its pH is basic, not acidic. Thus, when you apply baking soda to your skin, you, in essence, destroy healthy aspects of it – its probiotic balance, oil production, texture, and even its molecular composition.

What’s worse? Dr. Layke explains that some people have turned to another chemical to rinse off the baking soda – vinegar. This results in facial burns, as vinegar’s pH is far too acidic for our skin. So, as Dr. Layke states, “washing baking soda off with vinegar is like fighting fire with fire.” Ouch.

Home Exfoliation

You can successfully exfoliate your skin in the comfort of your own home – without turning to chemicals under your sink or in your pantry. There are over-the-counter exfoliating cleansers that have a slightly sandy texture with very small grains. The texture is rough enough to buff away dead skin cells, thereby brightening the complexion, but gentle enough to cause no harm.

I really like Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub . I use it with my Clarisonic Mia, as both the cleanser and brush provide gentle exfoliation. I have the Mia 2 in pink. Dr. Layke advises that we should avoid cleansers that have large, visible exfoliating grains or beads, which actually scrape your face and cause micro-damage that can actually age your skin.

Honey and Yogurt Mask

I have also tried a honey and plain yogurt mask that cleanses and re-balances bacteria very well and is endorsed by Dr. Layke. This mask is a natural, fun, and relatively inexpensive approach. You can even make batches of it to freeze and save for later and/or bottle and gift to friends. If you prefer an in-office approach for periodic added exfoliation, you can pay out-of-pocket for microdermabrasion, usually done every four to six weeks.

I have to close this post with Dr. Layke’s words – “Remember – anything you use to clean grout, shouldn’t be used to clean your face!” Well, when you put it that way….

Categories: General


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