Battling Bad Skin — with Baking Soda

6/27/13 Update: Washing your face with baking soda doesn’t have to be harsh, I finally figured out. Here’s how.

I have struggled with acne since I was about 12 years old. That’s about when I started being dragged into the dermatologist’s office for gels that burned, needles that poked and pills that only had a short-term affect. Also for creams that didn’t work. Even for Accutane. Twice.

After the second round of Accutane (I know, mentioning it these days is like dropping an f-bomb in church.), my doctor started calling me his “problem child.”

What was I supposed to do?! I quit going to him. My face had, after all, cleared up enough. Enough that it wasn’t worth spending $50 every other week for a doctor who didn’t know what to do. I just didn’t have the perfect movie star complexion and I was 18 years old. I had had enough.

I began using Neutrogena products. I found some that I swore by. They didn’t make my face flawless and didn’t get rid of the scars, but I was scared to stop taking them in case things spiraled out of control. It was costing me about $30 every couple months.

Then, in my quest for healthiness, I discovered Arbonne. All natural and vegan. Perfect! Nothing oil-based and pore-clogging and no animal by-products. I loved it all so much that I even started selling it. (Still do! Want more info? Let me know! OK, enough shameless plugging.) Anyway, within the first few weeks of using Arbonne’s cosmetics and anti-acne line, Clear Advantage, I saw results. I thought my face was looking … different. I couldn’t quit figure out why. Then people, unprompted, started telling me the same. They said my face was looking so much better and great. My Arbonne upline told me, “It’s Arbonne!”

Arbonne’s Fruity (really!) FC5

She was right. The make-up provides a flawless look without the toxins and thick feeling of the other chemical-laden cosmetics.

But I hit a snag.

I ran out of my face wash. I decided I would hold off on buying a refill until I didn’t have so many bills that needed my immediate attention because I had old Body Shop tea tree oil face wash I could use. (Just before Arbonne, this is what I was using. I was on my path to purer things, one step at a time.)

Well, whether it be hormones, bad luck or not-so-fantastic face wash, I started breaking out. Like, all over my face. Again. I mean, I’m 25 years old. I have started to joke, only half-heartedly, that I will have to go straight from anti-acne to anti-aging products. It’s a sad, sad, frustrating thing.

Well, the good skin gods must have sensed my sorrow, because a friend of mine felt the urge to send me this article. It’s an intriguing, enlightening, longish, blog about living naturally. The writer mentioned using baking soda to wash her face with. Baking soda! Is there nothing baking soda can’t do?! Cleaning stainless steel, refrigerators and china, all while having the ability to treat heartburn and upset stomachs — and now acne?!

Baking Soda Bliss

So of course that part in particular caught my attention. I scanned the comments to read others’ praise of the method. Then, I checked out the baking soda method reviews on acne.org, a place for frustrated victims of poor skin like me to congregate. They were great, and they just keep coming in.

People wrote of their skin feeling softer right away, acne clearing up and scars fading. The only major downside, depending on the person, is that it drys the skin out. It was worth a try to me.

I had pretty amazing results. I have washed my face this way since I discovered this method, and saw a difference by the third use. My face was dryer right away; you have to be careful not to scrub too hard because it is quite an awesome exfoliater. But that was when I brought my FC5 Arbonne lotion into the picture when needed. Anyway, the red pimples that were mainly around my chin and on my cheeks went away within the first couple uses.

I had read variations on how to use baking soda that range from mixing a little with water to create a paste and washing with it like typical face wash (which I do), to putting your face over a steamer first to open the pores, then keeping the baking soda mix on for up to an hour to use as a mask. I haven’t tried that yet, because I just haven’t found the time. Beware though, if you try the mask, it might be tough. The baking soda does burn a little. Not bad, but it might get intense if it’s on for an hour. The burning is much more painful if you have broken skin. Some people mentioned using it more as a spot treatment. There are lots of tips from other users at acne.org.

This could be just another flash in the pan acne treatment for me. But for something natural, that costs a couple bucks for a box that I’ll get countless uses out of, it’s worth a try. So. Fingers and toes crossed that this is a long-term solution to an issue that’s taken up more than half of my lifetime, and that it can help you too!

UPDATE: I revisited this issue in a June 2011 post with an update of my experiences.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    This is great to know! I’ve always had mild acne since I was a teen and it flared up badly a few years ago in my early twenties. I was to the point of not wanting to go out in public because I was so embarrassed by my face. After countless trips to the Derm and Pharmacy for creams and pills, and a signature to start Accutane, I decided to try birth control as a hormone-balancing solution. I’m so glad I didn’t move forward with the Accutane, because the pill cleared up my face well. I still have an area on my cheek that remains red and bumpy and have a few blemishes here and there. I’m hoping baking soda can help with that! Thanks for the post 🙂

  2. I have to try this with my daughter. She is just starting to get T zone acne. This would be a great, and cheap!

  3. Cochrane says:

    Today, there are so many acne remedies in there and most of them are classed as anti-bacterial and anti-inflamatory. Plain soap is best for cleaning the top of the skin. Topical niacinamide is also a great anti-inflammatory for acne.

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