Does baking soda help with acne? We asked actual skin care experts so you don't have to

Elisabeth Schmitt/Getty Images

When you’re struggling with breakouts, it’s no secret that you may try just about anything to clear your skin up. From expensive dermatologist-recommended treatments to hormonal birth control methods, there’s no shortage of stuff on the market to battle breakouts. But if you’re done with pills and creams, what about nontraditional home remedies like baking soda to get rid of pimples?

We know, it sounds a bit crazy to reach into your pantry and pull out baking soda to use on your face, but it’s definitely a remedy we’ve heard in the past. With more people trying to cure acne with things they’ve already got at home, and baking soda used for things like DIY toothpaste, it potentially makes sense, right?

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is often used by people in the kitchen when whipping up pancakes, breads, and other delicious baked goods, but it also has plenty of other uses, too. It acts as a mild disinfectant and is even used to kill cockroaches…which means it’s pretty potent stuff. But should baking soda be used as an acne treatment?

Dr, Jaishree Sharad, a dermatologist based in Mumbai, is skeptical, telling us “there is no scientific research” on the use of baking soda for acne, nor is it FDA approved. But she adds that it may work as a home remedy depending on your skin type.

“Baking soda exfoliates and reduces oil. It may help in reducing comedones (clogged hair follicles in the skin, such as blackheads or whiteheads). But it can dry the skin & alter the [skin’s] pH, making the skin more sensitive. If one has very oily skin and is not using any [other creams that cause skin to dry], one may mix baking soda with honey to exfoliate and reduce blackheads.”

And Dr, Dina Strachan, a dermatologist based in New York City, agrees, adding that it may work as a home remedy, but says, “Perhaps the exfoliation helps but as it is basic [as opposed to acidic], and the skin is naturally slightly acidic, other options are better.”

So basically, baking soda might help with exfoliating, but there are still products out there specifically designed for use on skin that will very likely work better for that purpose. Le sigh. We guess we haven’t found the acne-fighting holy grail just yet.

And as always, always consult with a dermatologist before putting anything questionable on your face!

newsletter illustration

Giggles in Your Inbox

!