Baking soda has long been one of those well kept beauty industry secrets, with brands like Philosophy, GlamGlow, and Dr. Dennis Gross using sodium bicarbonate or other baking soda derivatives in their products. Offering mild exfoliation, pore minimization, blackhead removal, and a cure to mild acne, it’s no wonder skincare companies have been capitalizing on this simple yet powerful ingredient. Now the word is out and more cost effective brands are offering baking soda solutions like Bioré with their powder formula Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub. In their usual fashion, beauty bloggers and DIY-ers have been pouring out home-made recipe after home-made recipe to save us from paying top dollar for the effects of something that is likely going unused in your kitchen cupboards. According to everyone online, baking soda can be added to nearly every step of your skincare routine. Start with your face wash by either adding it to your regular cleanser or using it on its own. Everyone’s skin is different so start off slow by mixing in one part baking soda to three parts face wash once a week or the high salt content might leave your skin dry and irritated. If you have more resilient skin, it might be able to handle some if these more advanced steps. Rather than mixing sodium bicarbonate into your face wash, you can make a paste (one part baking soda and one part water) to massage into your skin after rinsing your regular cleanser. After a minute or two, your skin will be exfoliated and ready to be rinsed. Rinse thoroughly, though, as leaving any residue could dry you out. Another more intensive way to use baking soda is as a face mask. Because masks tend to be more powerful, we’ve found the gentlest version. Honey will act as a natural moisturizer (and will also help you use another ingredient you may have sitting in your kitchen untouched), counteracting the drying effects of the sodium bicarbonate. For this brightening mask, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda, two tablespoons of honey, and one tablespoon of lemon juice (to help brighten the dull layers of skin after the exfoliation process) and leave on for 10-15 minutes before thoroughly rinsing. If you have particularly acne-prone skin that has handled sodium bicarbonate well, you may want to skip the honey. If you still get the occasional breakout after following these tips, there are also spot treatments. For those of you with more severe acne, mix together baking soda with another acne-fighting agent to dry out any breakout quickly. The consensus online seems to point towards the solution of baking soda and tea tree oil as the best spot treatment. Add 1 tablespoon sodium bicarbonate, 1 tablespoon water, and one to two drops of tea tree oil for more oils skin, or for dry to normal skin, substitute the water for olive or coconut oil. Because they are so intense, we recommend only putting these on the affected area, rather than as an all over mask and testing them for a few hours before wearing it through the night. The best part about DIY is the customization process, allowing it to work with every skin type. If these solutions don’t work for you, we encourage you to change up the proportions, but always err on the side of caution when incorporating new ingredients into your beauty regime. Start out with small amounts of baking soda and only one weekly treatment and work your way up to avoid irritation. By Lindsay Cooper Photo courtesy of the University of California Berkeley Wellness