Skincare from the Kitchen Cupboard

Posted on April 17, 2008 by Allie

A few weeks ago, while I was researching using lemon as an astringent, I came across a comment about another common kitchen staple that works well to keep skin clear.

I wish I could remember where the comment came from, but I can’t. The commenter said she’d been using baking soda to wash her face and it worked really well. I thought it was interesting, but didn’t think seriously about trying it. I use baking soda to scrub my bathtub and clean my toilet. It seemed to harsh for my face.

I try a lot of different green skin care products for the site, and to be honest, most of them don’t live up to my standards, so, as per my product review policy, I never mention them.

One of the unfortunate results of all of these trials has been angry skin. Lately, I’ve had issues with clogged pores and pimples, especially around my chin and mouth. It’s embarrassing, uncomfortable and frustrating.

Last week, I’d had it. I wanted to take charge and clear up my skin. I felt like a cleanser with some exfoliating action would be my best bet. I was going to head back to the natural foods store, but then I remembered the comment about baking soda and decided to give it a try. Immediately, my skin felt soft. Some of the redness and irritation faded, and my pores looked clearer. The next morning, my skin looked markedly better.

After almost a week of using baking soda as a face scrub, my skin looks better than it has in a very long time. It’s clear and smooth. I’ve always had clogged pores in and around my nose, but they are clearing out and have a much more refined appearance.

Since I got such great results, I decided to see if other people have had the same experience with baking soda. has a long list of review from happy baking soda users. Some people complain that it burns a bit, but I think they’re using as a mask instead of a face wash. If you’re dealing with a big pimple, make a paste with baking soda and a little bit of water to dab on the spot, but don’t leave it on for more than a minute or two. Otherwise, just mix about a tablespoon of baking soda with water and use it as you would any other face scrub.  I wouldn’t recommend using it as an all over mask, and no matter how you use it, make sure to keep it away from your eye area.

Baking soda is a little drying, so it’s important to moisturize after you wash.

There hasn’t been any issue with my skin getting worse before it gets better, like there is with some skin care products.  It’s been steadily improving since I started this new regimen. I absolutely love that I’m limiting my exposure to chemicals, and I’m thrilled that my new skin care product comes in minimal packaging with minimal cost.


  1. i had awful dry skin on my face while in high school (now I’m blessed with combination — even the air makes me to break out) – and I concocted this banana/olive oil mask (no idea where I got the idea from) — cured! my skin has never been that dry again. i love putting stuff one could eat on my face. perhaps that’s why i love lush so much?

    April 17th, 2008 at 7:54 pm
    Comment by kir
  2. Interesting. I have been using Proactiv for years now but once my fiance and I started to become more green we also agreed to green our personal care products. The proactiv was the first thing to run out and my skin has the acne to show for it which is rather frustrating. I’ll have to give this a try. On the upside we made our own bar soap and put ground whole oats in it which works really well to exfoliate the rest of our skin.

    April 18th, 2008 at 1:04 am
    Comment by N. & J.
  3. I’ve been on a mission this year to get my skin clear of acne with mixed results, so I’ll definitely try this.

    April 18th, 2008 at 3:07 am
    Comment by The Modern Gal
  4. That’s interesting. Will have to give it a try.

    I use almond oil as a body moisturizer: just spread a bit over my body while the skin’s still wet, then towel off. I have combination skin and it works wonderfully. You just have to be careful because some “almond oils” sold out there seem to have everything but almonds in it.

    A good face mask for when your skin is looking a little off is mixing equal parts of honey, almond or olive oil and lemon juice (I generally use about a tea spoon of each). Mix it well, put on your face and leave for about ten minutes, then wash off with warm water. I generally do it at night before going to bed, because of the lemon juice: if you have some lemon juice left on your skin and you expose yourself to sunlight, it will stain.

    April 18th, 2008 at 9:23 am
    Comment by ana
  5. Wow, that is probably the most inexpensive facial scrub out there! I can’t wait to give it a try, I can’t use my old favorite scrub anymore because its got all the bad stuff in it.

    April 18th, 2008 at 1:49 pm
    Comment by Danielle
  6. holy crap! i can’t wait to try this! thanks for the tips Allie. do you do this once a day? twice a day? every other day?

    i’ve so longed for clear skin…i can see a glimmer of hope again :)

    April 18th, 2008 at 4:35 pm
    Comment by erikka
  7. What the heck is combination skin? I’m out of my element here.

    Good tip, though. I will be sharing it with a manic face wash devotee I know.

    Also, is that your kitchen? It looks nice.

    April 18th, 2008 at 5:54 pm
    Comment by mickey
  8. mickey,

    combination skin means that there are areas of your skin that tend to be oily and others that tend to be dry, which can be quite a pain to balance out.

    April 18th, 2008 at 6:11 pm
    Comment by ana
  9. That’s a good tip about the baking soda! I’ve never tried that.

    I usually do a raw honey and avocado mask to rehydrate my skin and sometimes put a few drops of lavender essential oil because it’s very healing for skin issues. You also can add a tsp. of kelp powder to the mix and it helps to draw impurities out, too.

    April 21st, 2008 at 2:49 am
    Comment by Nature Deva
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  11. I find that every “natural” or organic product I’ve used on my face has caused me to break out. Good old water seems to work for me. All these interesting food masks sound intriguing though…

    April 21st, 2008 at 2:48 pm
    Comment by nancypearlwannabe
  12. No, that’s not my kitchen. I wish that were my kitchen. :)

    I’ve been using baking soda 2 times a day, being careful not to scrub too hard, as long as I feel like my face is “dirty.” When I haven’t been working out or out in the garden, I’ve been trying not to wash my face, because too much washing can be a part of the problem too.

    I can’t wait to try all these other masks too. Sounds fun!

    April 21st, 2008 at 3:35 pm
    Comment by Allie
  13. Allie, I’ve been using baking soda as a scrub once a week for many many years. It’s the best! I’ve also used toothpaste, the baking soda/peroxide kind, which also works well. Just a little dab in your palm with some water to make a smooth paste, and voila! Works the same way as the baking soda, but the added peroxide is a bonus to help heal up acne, and if I’m not mistaken, most of the acne formulas out there have peroxide in them.

    You may want thing about cutting down the treatment to once a week, so you don’t get rosacea, which can happen as you get older. Olive oil is the perfect moisturizer, and your favorite tea with a little glycerin and aloe sprayed on your face is great for a daytime moisturiser as well.

    Great blog you have here, dear.


    April 23rd, 2008 at 5:19 pm
    Comment by Kim
  14. i must report that I used the baking soda idea and the almond oil moisturizer idea. i was also on the cape and got some sun. not sure if the resulting red, bumpy rash all over my face is sun poisoning or from too much change at once for my face…but it is ITCHY and I feel so sad…I want this baking soda thing to work for me.

    April 24th, 2008 at 5:46 pm
    Comment by erikka
  15. Thanks for this review, I really appreciate the idea. I have pretty sensitive skin and agree with you, Allie: on those days when I haven’t put a lot on my face, I do better to only use water.

    @Erikka, I always thought my skin was having a reaction when that would happen, thus I mostly only use water. But a couple weeks ago I tried a new product and really wanted it to work for me. I tried the sensitive skin variety, which still made me pink and very warm. But after about a week I realized I control that by how hard I scrub, and am not actually having a reaction.

    I’d go easy on any new face product, not too frequently or too much scrubbing, or too many new things at once. Maybe by going easy the baking soda could still work once a week.

    Hope your skin gets back to happy quickly.

    April 26th, 2008 at 3:50 am
    Comment by Krista
  16. Oh Erikka! I’m sorry to hear your skin is itchy and upset. If you want to give the baking soda another go, here’s what I’d recommend — give your skin a few days to rest — wash with a really mild soap when you need to (like Dr. Bronners Baby Mild soap) and keep using whatever moisturizer you used before. Then, when you try the baking soda, use it in the shower so you can make sure you get all of it off your skin when you’re done. Mix it with water, spread it on your face without scrubbing and leave it on your face for less than a minute. Maybe try using it once a week and keep up with your regular moisturizer until your know if the baking soda is the issue. I really hope that works.

    I’ve backed off to using the baking soda every three days or so, and it’s still working great, but I realized when I was watching my husband wash his face that I don’t scrub hard at all when I wash, so, as Krista said, that could be an issue too.

    Hope your face feels better soon!

    April 26th, 2008 at 2:23 pm
    Comment by Allie
  17. a really awesome pore cleanser mask – crush up some papaya , put it on your face for 20 – 30 min , rinse . then apply a french white clay mask for about 20 min . this cleans my pores better than any other product i’ve ever used . and i to hv the problem with larger pores around my nose . i also use a french green clay ( which is good for acne prone skin ) once or twice a week to keep my pores clean , i add some tea tree oil and chamomile oil too .
    great blog by the way :)

    May 1st, 2008 at 4:39 pm
    Comment by shannon
  18. [...] over at Allie’s Green Answers, talks about the skincare products she’s using are out of her kitchen [...]

    May 4th, 2008 at 5:00 pm
    Pingback by Nurturing Yourself - Issue 1 | Goddess Blog
  19. [...] So, moral of the story? Look for scrubs which contain absolutely natural and identifiable ingredients, or make your own for a fraction of the cost (scroll down this page to find a thorough listing of scrub recipes, and read about how Allie switched to using baking soda as a scrub). [...]

    May 6th, 2008 at 10:00 am
    Pingback by “Microbead” Facial Scrubs | Tiny Choices
  20. Thanks, Shannon!

    May 8th, 2008 at 1:19 am
    Comment by Allie
  21. [...] you know, I’m usually somewhat spartan in my beauty regimen.  But I’ve really been enjoying giving myself a bit of pampering.  And I want you to enjoy [...]

    July 14th, 2008 at 6:17 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » The Mother Of All Allie’s Answers Giveaways
  22. [...] Skin Care From the Kitchen Cupboard [...]

    September 18th, 2008 at 2:01 pm
    Pingback by Allie’s Answers » Blog Archive » Thirty-Something Bloggers Featured Blogger
  23. I read all your blogs, but I did not find anything on sunscreen or sunblock cream or lotion. Do you apply your home made concotion on your face (day time moisturizer) without any sun protection. Since I am allergic to Q15, I am interested in your suggestions.

    November 20th, 2008 at 5:50 pm
    Comment by L Moore
  24. I am very frugal and against fancy chemicals.
    Before entering my shower, I rub baby oil all over, my face, neck and body and more on parts like elbows, knees…followed by a patting of baking soda all over.
    While waiting I brush my teeth too with baking soda and rinse with white vinegar.Then I rub all my body,then I take my shower just let the water wash everything.
    I do that on an irregular basis…not every morning, but normally after a complete home cleaning generate by a rage!

    January 8th, 2009 at 2:57 am
    Comment by Marcejen
  25. re: baking soda as exfoliant
    years ago I went to a Russian esthetician Olga who recommended baking soda as an exfoliant..she said it was ph balanced, cheap, chemical-free and not too harsh (all these scrubs & peels, yikes!) I keep a box in my shower, make a paste and gently ‘wash’ my face with it.(make sure to rinse well as dried baking soda in the hairline is not pretty!) I have been using it daily for years and love it! I am 48 years old and have been guessed 15 years younger! this is the best “beauty tip” I have ever received.

    January 15th, 2009 at 5:35 pm
    Comment by Denise
  26. [...] scrub my face with baking soda a few times a week, instead of using a face cleanser with ocean polluting plastic exfoliating [...]

    February 2nd, 2009 at 3:36 pm
    Pingback by Baking Soda Week
  27. Will definitely give the baking soda a try, as am prone to what I call my ‘monthly spots’ under my chin and chest. I have an aloe vera plant which is very healthy, do you have any tips for this, that might help?

    February 22nd, 2009 at 11:37 pm
    Comment by Allie E
  28. You should try the Rooibos Face Scrub from the Made from Earth product line….here’s what it did for me:
    I used to have acne in junior and high school, but 10 years after graduation I didn’t think it would come back just because I got pregnant. I sure was WRONG! My acne first trimester was so horrible even my husband couldn’t deny it any longer. I wish I could say that the Made from Earth Rooibos Face scrub is a miricle product and it cleared up my acne completely and immediately, but the truth is that is took a few weeks and it cleared about 50% in the first couple of weeks. But after months of NOTHING working I was very pleased!
    I’ve bought another jar after my first one ran out and though my skin is better – MUCH BETTER. It is very gentle and doesn’t irritate the skin in any way whatsoever – which i think is what was causing my breakouts – because I have VERY sensitive skin. Plus–it’s the only safe acne wash I’ve found that actually has acne fighting ingredients. Highly recommended!

    May 11th, 2009 at 1:09 pm
    Comment by Tammy H
  29. I have been using baking soda as an all over exfoliater and face scrub as well, I cannot do it every day or my skin will get really dry. So it wasn’t a strech when I put a bunch on my hair, WOW, really shiny clean hair. Still my hair was dry no matter how I conditioned it I tried mayo, still a tangle developed, we are talking daily, a birds nest in the back of my head. So one day I rinsed my hair with vinegar! WOW again soft shiny bouncy clean, yet not dried out TANGLE FREE(at last)hair. I will keep up with this method as I dont wasnt to cut my long locks. I have heard vinegar is good for acne as well as (weird) cabbage in raw form or sourkraut. So go on make a sourkraut mask & review it! Thanks for the reviews!

    December 16th, 2009 at 11:33 am
    Comment by lazerclaire
  30. I use baking soda and love it!

    Another tip I read somewhere about was for dandruff.
    I can’t remember where I heard about it but the mix was to take 1/3 cup of baking soda with a bit of natural vinegar to get the foam going, it foams normally since soda is one ph and vinegar is acidic.
    With this foamy-froth, gently but throughly scrub your scalp with your fingertips, not so much your hair since your just trying to get the flakes to detach from your scalps skin.
    Rinse well and use a quality conditioner.

    This works better than most of the expensive dandruff shampoos I have wasted tons of money over the years on.

    It may burn a bit from the vinegar if your scalp is angry and red or you have been itching the dandruff but once you do this for a few shampoos even the horrible itching goes away.

    I am not sure, since I am not a biological chemist but I think the ph of the treatment helps quell some of the underlying issue of some folks dandruff being caused by scalp yeast too.

    It’s worth a try anyway.

    I’m also not sure about dyed hair or how that will work out so use your own judgment.

    January 30th, 2010 at 1:37 am
    Comment by VaL
  31. Using Home made remedies are very helpful and they won’t cause any affect to our skin care..Your article had provided very gud info…..

    June 11th, 2010 at 8:06 am
    Comment by Emma Watson
  32. I tried lemon juice some years ago too mixed results, but I’ve been exfoliating with baking soda regularly for a long time. It’s the absolutely cheapest, most effective way I’ve been able to keep a smooth face.

    What I do is before getting in the shower, mix up a small glass of baking soda and water into a paste consistency. Spreadable but not runny. While my conditioner is working I first cleanse (with Cetaphil) then gently scrub with the baking soda paste. I imagine this wouldn’t work for people with overly sensitive skin, as it is quite abrasive, but for me it’s been great. After rinsing I then cleanse again to remove the last of the baking soda residue.

    As I said, incredibly effective, and incredibly cheap. I’ll never again have to look for the latest and greatest facial exfoliate. This is all I’ll ever need.


    July 17th, 2010 at 11:56 am
    Comment by Dry Brushing
  33. The only problem with Baking Soda, which is the best thing ever for so many uses, is that Arm & Hammer STILL tests on animals, blinding the bunnies, and bloodying their skins. Use Bob’s Red Mill baking soda. Yes, it is more expensive, but the only kind that doesn’t maim animals on a huge scale just to see how many toxins they can get away with giving us. Even store brands are actually Arm & Hammer.

    September 7th, 2010 at 3:16 pm
    Comment by MJ Cavallo
  34. I have combination facial skin, I found out the best thing to use on my face is oatmeal soap, I suffered with acne all my life till I found oatmeal soap. The soap is wonderful.

    July 24th, 2011 at 4:44 pm
    Comment by Evelyn Yancey

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