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Baking soda for your skin?

While many trends can come and go, some tend to lean towards a more disruptive nature than others and can lead to potential skin issues and even harm. A recent example? The rise in popularity of baking soda.

Touted as a cure all for everything from replacing toothpaste and deodorant to a natural alternative to household cleaning products, it’s best to stay away from any fad when it comes to caring for your skin, particularly acne prone and sensitive skin. There are a few simple reasons why — read on to see why to skip out on this one, and what to use instead.

Let’s get down to basics first: our skin’s acid mantle, which is its thin, protective layer on the surface, is a delicate balance of sebum, lactic and amino acids, and ideally should maintain a slightly acidic pH level (5.5, to be exact) for optimum health.

When the acid mantle and pH balance is out of whack, the protective barrier is compromised, and good, natural bacteria (the kind that prevents infection and acne) can be disrupted, leading to infection, and you guessed it — acne.

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkali that neutralizes acid, including the acid on our skin when applied topically. This in turn leads to changing the ideal pH balance of our aforementioned acid mantle, and with it, an onslaught of skin issues like breakouts, sensitivity, redness and irritation.

Washing with baking soda can even remove the skin’s protective oil barrier, leaving you with stripped skin prone to even more complexion problems. Additionally, once the protective oil barrier is disrupted, skin may overproduce excess oil to make up for the lack of moisture and lead to even more breakouts.

As well as altering skin’s pH level, baking soda has a crystalline structure, which is never ideally used on skin more than once or twice a week.

When mixed with water and formed into a paste, the powder becomes abrasive, and with overuse, causes skin to become overly dry, sensitive, red and irritated.

While exfoliating has a place in every skincare routine, it’s important to consider the type of exfoliation best suited for each skin type: acne prone, sensitive types should stick to gentle enzyme exfoliators or simply use a quality cotton or bamboo facecloth.

Regardless of skin type, washing or exfoliating with baking soda is never a good idea, despite what any report on trends dictates.

Choose a daily cleanser that will gently lift the day’s build-up of dirt, oil, pollution, makeup and sweat, but is gentle enough as to not disturb the skin’s natural barrier.

Once or twice a week, choose a smooth (not gritty) clay mask free of artificial fragrance, colours and harsh chemicals to purify pores.

My secret to clear, healthy glowing skin? Quality skin supplements (beauty from within) and simple skincare routine, which is the core philosophy of the SkinB5 range. Works like magic.

Judy Cheung-Wood, Acne Expert
Founder and Managing Director of global brand SkinB5, a Nutritional Acne Treatment Company

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