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Why Baking Soda For Acne Is A Bad Idea

Baking soda for acne is a popular idea, and you've probably heard it can be a quick and easy solution. But the truth is, there's a lot of conflicting information about whether or not it's safe for treating acne.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Some claim baking soda works as an exfoliant removing dead skin cells, either by itself as a baking soda paste or in a home-brewed concoction. Moments of inspiration typically result in adding lemon juice to the baking soda, but other random ingredients have been tried as well.

  • Still, others feel baking soda completely wrecks their skin and makes their acne a lot worse. We'll dig into feedback from baking soda treatment 'adventurists' a little later.

  • Baking soda reviews are very mixed.

  • Dermatologists say baking soda can work for some, but they generally don't recommend the use of baking soda as a facial scrub, facial cleanser, face mask, or exfoliant.

  • There are way better acne treatment options available than baking soda treatments.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the problems with using baking soda for acne and why we think it is likely to do more harm than good.

We will also cover what we have learned after more than 20 years of helping 400,000+ Exposed Skin Care customers finally achieve the clear, healthy skin they have always wanted.

Hand holding box of baking soda

The Problems With Using Baking Soda For Acne breakouts

First things first, let's talk about the potential side effects of using baking soda on your skin.

Sure, it has some antiseptic properties and exfoliating properties, which could possibly have some effect on regulating overgrowth of P. Acnes (I'm guessing since there is no science).

But bacterial overgrowth is only one of several causes of acne. We can say with great conviction - baking soda treatment will not clear your skin because it doesn't address all the major causes of acne:

  • Bacterial overgrowth

  • Clogged pores

  • Overproduction of skin oil (sebum)

The few positives of baking soda come at a cost. Anecdotal evidence suggests that using baking soda on your skin can cause overdrying, skin irritation, and inflammation, which will almost always make your acne worse.

Irritation and inflammation are best friends of acne, and the worst enemies of clear, healthy skin!

And if you're someone with sensitive skin or dry skin, you're at an even higher risk of experiencing these side effects. Oily skin may be a little more resilient, but many with this skin type still report baking soda severely drying out their skin.

This may sound surprising, but the alkaline pH of baking soda can completely strip the natural oils from human skin.

Reason 1) Baking Soda Disrupts The Skin’s Natural pH

One of the main problems with using baking soda for acne is that it disrupts the skin's natural pH balance.

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate or baking powder, has a pH level of 9, which is alkaline on the pH scale and can dry out your skin and cause irritation. This can lead to even more acne.

PH testing done by scientist

Image source:

According to research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, the average skin surface pH is below 5.0, which is slightly acidic and lower than what was previously assumed.

The study also shows that prior use of cosmetic products and plain tap water can have a profound effect on skin surface pH, increasing it up to 6 hours after application before returning to its natural value.

Additionally, it was demonstrated that having a low acidity level in the skin (4-4.5) helps keep resident bacteria attached while an alkaline environment promotes their dispersal away from the body's surfaces.

We don't want all the bacteria gone - they are beneficial to the skin!

We are looking to balance the bacteria and pH on the skin, not eradicate every living thing. Think gentle, consistent skin care, not 'strip mining' oil and bacteria with a vengeance.

Woman looking happily at her clear skin

Reason 2) There Is No Science to Support Using Baking Soda For Acne breakouts

Another problem with using baking soda for acne is that there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness. While baking soda may have antiseptic and exfoliating properties, there is no proof that it can effectively treat acne.

Not a shred! We checked the scientific literature.

Reason 3) Baking Soda May Even Make Acne Worse

Not only is there no proof that baking soda can treat acne, but it may even make it worse.

As we mentioned earlier, using baking soda on your skin can cause irritation and inflammation, which can lead to more acne.

Baking Soda Reviews

Since we can't rely on science, let's look at what 1345 acne sufferers reported about their experience using baking soda for acne.

The feedback statistics show that:

  • 54% of the reviewers rate baking soda 5 stars
  • 26.8% rate 4 stars
  • 7% rate 3 stars
  • 5.4% rate 2 stars
  • 6.8% rate 1 star.

It indicates that more people had a positive experience than a negative one, but it also shows that a significant percentage of users did not find it effective or even irritated their skin.

Review from someone who got good results:

"I woke up the next morning and my acne dark marks were noticeably lighter yay! Never use it on open sores or already pop pimples wait until they heal. While they're healing spot treat with Desitin diaper rash cream with zinc trust me. Next morning I woke up and my scars were lighter I'm going to do it again. I have supersensitive skin I advise if you do have supersensitive skin like me be careful and make sure use a light oil like rose hips after put right on after you wash the baking soda off." - Lucychrissy80

Review from someone who got bad results:

"Baking soda gave me horrible, inflamed acne, and when I did some research, it turns out that is not at all surprising. The skin naturally has a protective"acid mantle" and healthy skin has a pH of around 4.5. Any product you use on your skin should be between about 3.5 (for something like a BHA or AHA treatment, this can be irritating, but is a valid part of some acne routines) to 5.5 for cleansers. If you disrupt the acid mantle, you create an alkaline environment that bacteria loves and damage to the skin that again, just lets bacteria party. You can read more about this here. For the same reasons, don't use white vinegar (apple cider may be okay) or lemon juice on your skin, as these are too acidic. Just because something is natural does not mean it is safe to apply to the delicate skin on your face!" - redlips

What Dermatologists And Experts Say

Dermatologists are already well-clued in on baking soda from speaking with thousands of patients.

Byrdie interviewed two dermatologists, and their perspective supports what we have been saying. According to these two experts, baking soda for acne can do more harm than good.

Picture of Marnie Nussbaum MD.

Marnie Nussbaum, a New York City-based dermatologist, said that baking soda should only be used by:

"...those who are in a pinch and don't have access to products that use ingredients specifically formulated to fight acne, such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide..."

Picture of Annie Gonzales MD

Annie Gonzalez, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Florida, added:

"Generally speaking, it's also a better option for oilier skin types, [..], but it can be problematic even then"

They warn that baking soda can be very drying and should not be used with other potentially drying skincare ingredients such as retinoids or acids, and to use it only as a spot treatment when mixed with water and no more than once a week. also interviewed two skin care experts about baking soda for acne. Both warn against using baking soda for treating acne as it can throw off the skin's pH balance, disrupt the protective outer layer, and cause irritation.

Picture of Marisa Garshick MD.

Marisa Garshick, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City said:

"...there's unfortunately not too much in the way of scientific research looking into the use of baking soda for acne..."

Photo of Joshua Zeichner MD

Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai added:

"As an acne treatment, it can work...but dermatologists agree that there are better, more gentle solutions than baking soda."

Baking soda can also be very drying and cause inflammation, and he advises those with very sensitive skin to avoid it completely. He suggests sticking to traditional exfoliators with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or gentle, gritty, physical exfoliators.

A Better Solution Than Baking Soda For Acne

Most people eventually end up in the dermatologist's office after several failed attempts to clear their skin with home remedies and over the counter products. Baking soda for acne is only one out of thousands of options.

Frankly, acne treatment is a jungle!

Does this mean you can't treat acne effectively from home? Absolutely not. It's just that OTC products and home remedies generally suck!

In contrast, Exposed Skin Care is a highly effective acne treatment system that has helped more than 400,000 people achieve clear skin. What we say here is based on more than 20 years of experience in the skin care industry.

 Our complete system is designed to provide both fast and long-term results, and is backed by our industry-leading double-guarantee. This means that if you are not satisfied with the results after using the system for 30 days, you can return it for a full refund.

Another key benefit we like to point out is that Exposed Skin Care is super affordable.

Consider the hassle and cost of seeing a dermatologist multiple times over the course of months. Insurance, more often than not, won't cover the costs, so it's fair to say that the price tag often ends up pretty darn 'spicy'.

Natural remedies or home remedies, whatever you want to call them, are also not cheap in the long run because there's a lot of waste due to degradation. And honestly, who wants to mess around in the kitchen on a daily basis and shop to make sure you have a steady supply for a given formula? It's a total hassle.

Our system is manufactured in the US and Canada, which ensures that the highest quality standards are met. We only use ingredients that have been scientifically proven to improve acne. The system is a combination of prescription-strength ingredients and natural extracts that work together to combat acne at its source.

And if you're worried about anything, just call. We pick up the phone.


DIY recipes for acne remain very popular, and a few can produce positive results with enough effort. Baking soda is one home remedy we advise against, though.

It's not worth compromising your skin by completely stripping the healthy oils from the surface. It's guaranteed to make acne worse!

We understand the appeal of home remedies, however, and we do agree that acne can be safely and effectively treated from the comfort of your home with over the counter products and without any need to see a dermatologist or take medications, which sometimes come with serious adverse effects.

Just choose a quality, proven system and stick to a daily skin care routine. That's the simple formula for exposing the skin of your dreams.

Baking Soda For Acne FAQ

Should I use baking soda to treat my acne scars?

We recommend you see a dermatologist for acne scars. Effective treatment of acne scars belongs in their realm.

Is baking soda safe as an acne spot treatment?

In a pinch on the rare occasion it can be OK for some, but you don't know how your skin will react. Instead, use a quality treatment formula with benzoyl peroxide and soothing naturals for effective spot treatment.