It is understandable to want to look for a quick fix for acne scars using common household items. However, baking soda is not an effective treatment to reduce the scars left behind by acne. Read on to learn more about baking soda and why it won't help.

Does Baking Soda Fade Acne Scars?

Baking soda does not do anything to help acne scars. There are no scientifically backed studies that support this assertion. Baking soda does not contain any formulation to reverse the damage inflicted by acne scars. In addition, using baking soda will also not help to treat hyper-pigmentation issues.

Why Baking Soda Is Bad for Acne and Acne Scars

Baking soda is a widely available and cost-effective ingredient. This is why it is easy to see why baking soda can be an attractive option when looking to treat acne scars. However, there are many reasons that point to baking soda being a bad idea as a treatment option for acne and its resulting scars. According to Healthline, here are some of the reasons baking soda is bad for acne scars.

1. Too Basic

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a chemical that is used to neutralize acid. Its basic properties also make it a bad choice to use as a skin care treatment option. Healthy skin exhibits a slightly acidic profile known as the acid mantle. This acidity is useful in keeping out impurities that disrupt the natural balance of the skin. Baking soda strips this acidity and alters the pH balance. Without the ideal balance, the skin becomes susceptible to infections and flare-ups.

2. Irritating

Although this chemical can work wonders cleaning a bathtub or making cookies rise, baking soda can lead to uncomfortable skin irritation. Because it has so many household uses, many people use baking soda on the skin not expecting any reaction.
However, using baking soda on your skin can cause redness and burning. The use of baking soda is also cumulative. This means that the skin can become more stripped with each use.

3. Over-Exfoliating and Drying

When it comes to skincare, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. This is certainly the case with exfoliation. It may be tempting to use this common household item as an exfoliator. However, doing so can cause more harm more than good because of its capacity to strip the natural barrier. Exfoliation is an ideal way to strip away harmful impurities. But doing it with baking soda is not helpful for acne and scarring.

Dermatologist Thoughts on Baking Soda

To learn about the effects of baking soda as an acne treatment, it is helpful to turn to the professionals. Two leading dermatology provided their opinion in an interview with HelloGiggles.

1. Dr. Jaishree Sharad - A leading dermatologist based out of Mumbai, Sharad is skeptical of the use of baking soda as an acne deterrent. She said that even if the product reduces oil and unclogs pores, it is likely to dry out the skin and alter the natural pH balance of the skin because of its basic properties.

2. Dr. Dina Strachan - Strachan echoes the sentiments of Sharad. The New York City dermatologist adds that other options are better. Using products that are specifically designed to clear up acne will yield more promising results.

How Did Baking Soda Become So Popular?

Beauty bloggers have continually perpetuated the myth that baking soda is an effective treatment for acne. This is evident in the 45,800,000 results that come up when searching for baking soda as a skincare treatment. According to professional dermatologists, scientific evidence does not back the effectiveness of baking soda. The reality is that baking soda is a skin irritant. Any evidence that baking soda works to clear up acne is anecdotal and not based on facts. Most people who see success with this product are probably using it in conjunction with a proven option.

Proven Alternatives to Baking Soda for Acne Scars

Rather than turning to an unproven treatment such as baking soda, Verywell published these scientifically-backed options to clear up acne:

1. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

As one of the most common treatments for acne scars, AHAs have an incredible healing ability. The popular glycolic acid can minimize the appearance of scars. These acids work by speeding up the body's natural exfoliation process. Leave-on treatments are more effective than those that are rinsed off. AHAs are available both over the counter (OTC) and in stronger strengths through prescription.

2. Hydroquinone

This lightening ingredient is a popular treatment for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The product blocks the enzyme melanin, thus lightening the skin and the scar. Hydroquinone is available OTC with concentrations of one to two percent or in stronger prescription applications. The treatment is also available in conjunction with additional ingredients designed to increase the efficacy.

3. Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids speed up the normal turnover rate of cells. The rapid exfoliation of the skin will cause the scars to fade more quickly. This treatment can help to clear existing acne as well as minimize the appearance of scars. Most topical retinoids are only available with a prescription.

4. Azelaic Acid

This naturally occurring acid has a multitude of uses. In addition to improving the appearance of acne scars, the treatment can clear up existing breakouts, even out skin tone, and clear pores. Azelaic is an ideal choice as a complementary treatment to more commonly prescribed products.

5. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels strip off dead skin cells using a specially designed solution. The solution generally contains either an AHA or the beta hydroxy acid (BHA) salicylic acid. These peels are available in a variety of strengths. This makes this treatment a good choice when looking for versatility and customization for your specific skincare needs. Dermatologists perform chemical peels in a series of intermittent treatments.


What about using baking soda on pimples?

There are simply many better alternatives available to treat pimples, namely benzoyl peroxide. According to many trained dermatologists, baking soda is not a viable option for use on the skin. The FDA has also not approved baking soda as a skin treatment option.

What about mixing baking soda with olive or coconut oil?

This combination also does not work. It has been proven that coconut oil does not minimize acne scars. Beauty bloggers continue to promote these myths despite the fact that there is little evidence to back up their use.

Can you use baking soda and aloe vera for acne scars?

Like the other home remedies, there is no scientific evidence supporting this claim. There are more proven alternatives to treating acne scars than aloe vera and baking soda.

Baking Soda for Acne Scars: Summary

  • Baking soda is an irritant and will not help fade acne scars
  • Alternatives include: AHAs, Hydroquinone, Tropical Retinoids, Azelaic Acid, and Chemical Peels