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Baking Soda and Sensitive Skin

Hello Everyone, Cory here to review the controversy surrounding baking soda.  Fun fun. 

First, the controversy is simply this, one side contends that baking soda is bad for the skin and the other side believes that its good for the skin.  For those in either camp, sorry but we aren't picking sides as there are pros and cons for the use of baking soda on the skin (puts in earplugs because both camps are yelling). 

For those who aren't sure where they stand or why we chose not to use baking soda or why it even matters, read below.

So what is baking soda anyways?  Baking soda is a salt of sodium and bicarbonate and can actually act as a acid or base in the typical Bronsted-Lowry concept of acids and bases.  However, baking soda will typically act in a base in the normal, everyday life activities of us humans.  So, if you add some baking soda to your bath water, it becomes slightly basic or alkaline.  

So is alkaline water or alkalinity bad for the skin?  Well, it can depend.  Our skin produces a natural barrier that protects us from the sun, the elements, microbes, and all sorts of other dangers.  This barrier is created when sweat and sebum (skin oil) mixes and is called the acid mantle and is lightly acidic.  

Super quick chemistry lesson.  pH is the measure of hydrogen cations (more specifically the logarithmic scale of the concentration of hydrogen cations).  The scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral, less than 7 being acidic, and over 7 being basic or alkaline.  Baking soda has basic reading around 8.4 and the acid mantle over our skin has a typical reading between 5.5 and 4. 

We choose not to use baking soda in our deodorants because with repeated use, the basic nature of baking soda can really breakdown the acid mantle and sebum and start to irritate the skin.  Some people with sensitive skin or whose bodies produce less sebum, the baking soda can produce a burning sensation.  This isn't to say that an occasional use doesn't provide benefits.  Indeed, taking a soaking bath with baking soda provides a deep cleanse of the skin and helps fix oxygen into the top layer which provides a cellular benefit. 

 

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