Why You Should NOT Use Baking Soda To Exfoliate Your Skin

Once upon a time, I thought exfoliating with baking soda was a wonderful idea. It’s cheap, natural, and seems to do the job well. Why use anything else?

Then, I got into science. I learned all about ph and the acid mantle, and discovered that something as innocuous as baking soda can actually do a lot of damage to our skin. Here’s why:

What’s the acid mantle, and why is it important?

Our skin has an outer, protective, slightly acidic layer called the acid mantle. Formed by sweat and sebum, and home to harmless bacteria, the acid mantle protects skin by killing bad bacteria before they have a chance to enter our body. It also helps skin to retain moisture and stay soft and supple.

The acidity of the mantle is measured by its ph. Healthy skin has a ph between 4.2 and 5.6. For best results, most skincare products are formulated within this range. Anything about 7, instead, is called alkaline and is bad for skin. Why? Because it can disrupt the acid mantle, leading to all kinds of trouble.

Why you shouldn’t use baking soda to exfoliate skin

A 1997 study found that alkaline cleansers irritate “the physiological protective ‘acid mantle'”, change “the composition of the cutaneous bacterial flora and the activity of enzymes in the upper epidermis” and dissolve fats from the skin surface which may lead “to a dry and squamous skin.”

Baking soda has a ph of 8, high enough to disrupt the acid mantle. This damage is cumulative. The longer and more often you use it, the more damage it’ll inflict to your skin.

But that’s not all. Manual exfoliation (scrubbing dead cells away) is usually harsher than chemical exfoliation (using substances that dissolve the glue that holds skin cells together). That’s because it is easy to scrub too much or for a few minutes too long, removing too many dead cells and irritating skin. If, at the same time, you’re disrupting the acid mantle too, you risk serious damage to your skin.

The Bottom Line

I love a good home remedy, but exfoliating with baking soda is just asking for trouble. Instead, stick to professionally formulated exfoliants with AHAs (if you have dry and/or sun damaged skin) or BHA (if you have oily skin). Your skin will thank you.

Do you exfoliate with baking soda?

Why You Shouldn’t Use Toothpaste To Get Rid Of Pimples

toothpaste for pimples

Once upon a time, I used toothpaste to get rid of pimples. It was what every magazine recommended. Back then, magazines were the only source of “wisdom” for a young girl. There was no internet to check out if all their recommendations were true. Had there been, I would have stayed clear of this particular trick. Here’s why:

Toothpaste can dry out pimples

I don’t know why people started using toothpaste as a spot treatment. Maybe a girl, while trying to get the last bit out of a toothpaste, accidentally squeezed too hard and had a dollop land on a pimple. Or maybe she noticed most toothpastes contain triclosan, an antibacterial agent used in many anti-acne products , and tried applying it on her pimple. However it happened, triclosan, and other ingredients used in toothpaste such as menthol, hydrogen peroxide, and alcohol, can cause pimples to dry out. But that doesn’t mean you should use it.

Why you shouldn’t use toothpaste on pimples

All the ingredients mentioned above, and a few more such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is commonly found in toothpastes too, can dry out pimples. But they can also dry out and irritate your skin. Worse, if you leave toothpaste on a pimple a little too long, you may even experience burning! Ouch! Is it worth risking all that when there are much more effective and safer spot treatments available? I don’t think so.

What to use instead

if you have oily, acne-prone skin, use an exfoliant with salicylic acid (it can penetrate inside the pores to unclog them) to prevent breakouts. Two of my favourite options are Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA and Philosphy Clear Days Ahead Oil-free Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment & Moisturizer.

If you already have a pimple, instead, opt for a spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide such as ProActiv Plus Emergency Blemish Relief or Serious Skin Care Clearz-It Acne Treatment (it contains tea tree oil too). If your blemishes are so stubborn they don’t respond to small concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, try something a more heavy duty, such as Clearasil DailyClear Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream (it contains a whooping 10%!).

Have you ever used toothpaste on pimples?

How To Make Your Own Moisturizing Spray

diy moisturizing spray

A lot of women like to finish their makeup routine with a spritz of moisturizing spray to add radiance and extra moisture to the skin. But there’s no need to invest in one of the expensive sprays you can find in department stores. You can make your own. It’s easy, and a lot cheaper.

Here’s what you need:

95 ml of distilled water
4 or 5 ml of glycerin
1 sanitized spray bottle

Put both the water and the glycerin in the bottle, and give it a good shake. Because we’re not adding any preservatives, you need to store the mixture in a dark and cool place away from light and heat. And, when you start noticing any changes in consistency, colour, smell, etc, stop using it. That’s why, if you don’t use this type of product daily, you should reduce the doses. When it comes to homemade products, make only what you can finish before the ingredients go bad.

This spray is best used after cleansing the skin, but you can spritz it on after moisturizer or at any time during the day when you feel like your skin could use some extra moisture. How does it work? Glycerin is a humectant that can attract water from the environment into the skin, helping it to stay hydrated. But don’t use more than one spritz, or it’ll leave an unpleasant sticky feel on your skin!

Have you ever made your own moisturizing spray? Will you try this one?

DIY Makeup Brush Cleanser

diy brush cleanser

Before Kiko opened a shop in my little town, I couldn’t find a brush cleanser anywhere. I had never seen one in shops and, when I asked for it, the SA would look at me like I had just sprouted another head and curtly say: “They don’t exist. Use soap and water.” And I did, only that it took ages for my brushes to dry, and so, I didn’t wash them as often as I should have. :oops:

Until I discovered youtube videos and the lovely Enkore, who, in 2007, posted on his channel a simple recipe to make your own brush cleanser. It’s easy and inexpensive, saving you quite a bit of money too, which is always a plus, isn’t it?

What you need:

2 cups of distilled water (I sometimes use filtered)
1/2 cup of Isopropyl Alcohol
1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid
1 tablespoon of baby shampoo (you can use your own shampoo, as long as it is clear)
2 tablespoon of leave-in conditioning spray

Mix it all together in a cup (preferably, one with a spout, so that you can easily pour it into a bottle afterwards). That’s it.

Now you don’t have any excuses not to clean your brushes!

Have you ever made a DIY brush cleanser? If so, what recipe did you use?

Should You Add Olive Oil To Your Shampoo?

add oil to shampoo

Have you ever added olive oil (or coconut oil, or any other oil) to your shampoo?

Shampoos can leave hair feeling dry, so adding a few drops of a moisturizing oil to them helps to keep your locks soft and moisturized. But it also makes shampoos less effective.

The purpose of shampoo

There is a reason why shampoos can be drying. The purpose of shampoo is to dissolve the oils on your hair. These oils, whether naturally produced by your hair or applied by you, keep hair moisturized, but, overtime, they can also attract dirt and dust.

When hair gets dirty, you’d want to wash it and make it clean again. That means, you need to remove these oils, and all the gunk attached to them. And that’s the surfactants’ job. These ingredients allow the oils to be mixed with water so that they can be rinsed off.

Surfactants often get accused of being drying and harmful to hair, but if they are too gentle, they just can’t clean your hair well. Very mild surfactants work well for children or people with dry/normal hair that barely use any styling products. But if you have oily hair or lots of build-up from hair care products, they won’t do much for you.

Of course these surfactants shouldn’t be too strong and irritating either. The key is to find a formula that contains cleansing agents strong enough to remove oils well but gentle enough not to cause irritations or dryness. Lots of shampoos on the market today use blends of gentle surfactants that, together, are powerful enough to cleanse hair without side effects.

What if you add a few drops of oil to your shampoo?

But what if you want to make your shampoo gentler by adding oil to it? And doesn’t oil dissolve oil, anyway? Yes, but in this case, the result may not be as positive as you wish. As we already know, surfactants remove oils. If you add an oil to your shampoo, the surfactants in it may well see it as something that needs to be removed.

And once the added oil has been washed off, the surfactants in the formula may have exhausted their cleansing power and not be able to remove those that were already dirtying your hair. Of course, this depends on the strength of the formula of your shampoo and how much oil you add to it. If the formula is particularly irritating or the added quantity of oil small, your shampoo may still be able to cleanse your hair well.

The Bottom Line

If you want to add olive oil (or any other oil) to your shampoo, be sure to experiment to create a formula that will cleanse your hair well while adding some moisture to it. But, personally, I prefer to use a gentle, well-formulated shampoo and follow it up with a moisturizing conditioner or oil afterwards. That way, the shampoo can remove all the oils, together with the dirt and dust bound to them, well from your hair before you add some more to moisturize it.

Have you ever added oil to your shampoo? How did it work?

DIY Beauty: Homemade Mixing Medium

homemade mixing medium

Before Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy (one of the best makeup inventions ever), if you wanted to foil loose eyeshadows, you had to use MAC Mixing Medium. It instantly makes your eyeshadows look really vibrant and intense, and allows it to adhere better to the lid.

What’s the secret ingredient that makes this magic trick possible? Glycerin and water. Although newer version of the Mixing Medium contain more ingredients such as soothing chamomile extract and preservatives, it’s the glycerin and water base that does all the work.

And that means that, if you don’t fancy buying a bottle (which is quite pricey), you can easily make your own. Here’s what you’ll need:


– 1 part liquid glycerin (you can get it at your local pharmacy)
– 3 parts water
– a bowl
– a spoon
– a small funnel
– an empty bottle

Pour the glycerin and the water in a bowl and stir. You’d need to use 1 part glycerin and 3 parts water. That means that if you use 50ml of glycerin, you’ll have to add 150ml of water. However, I don’t recommend you make that much.

Bacteria can grown in water-based products if not properly preserved, and, as we’re not adding any preservatives, it’s better to make only a little amount at a time. That way, you can finish it all before it goes bad.

Once well-stirred, use the funnel to pour the mixture in an empty (and well-cleaned) bottle. That’s it. Now, let your creativity run wild and create lots of bright, vivid looks!

Do you ever foil your eyeshadows? If so, how?