I, a 36-year-old woman, have never grown out of the acne-prone skin I developed in high school. It’s not as bad as it was back then, but I still have monthly breakouts that sometimes include very painful pimples across all layers of my skin. During the past two decades, I have experimented with every acne product in the drugstore: the cleansers, the scrubs, the lotions, the creams, the vitamins, the sponges, the soaps and the masks. I have tried multiple brands of each of these products, as well. In college, I even tried that expensive monthly club that charged $40 a month for a little bottle of cleanser and astringent that I could barely stretch over the 30 days. It didn’t help, anyway.
So, here I am, with acne that isn’t quite that bad, but skin that still breaks out and, worse, has pitted scars to remind me of the skin that plagued me in my teens and early 20s. My adequate drug-store skin regimen included a Buff Puff sponge with Noxema to exfoliate, wash with antibacterial Dial soap, and then moisturize with Cetaphil lotion. But I still wasn’t happy with my skin.
I use two 2-ounce baby food jars: one for my face cleanser and the other for my homemade moisturizer. The cleanser lasts me about two weeks washing morning and night, and the lotion lasts for weeks. There is at least one night per week, however, that skip my cleanser and go straight for a pure baking soda scrub for a microdermabrasion effect. A regimen of one microdermabrasion a week is helping reduce the appearance of my pitted acne scars. After two months, people have started to notice that my skin is smoother and more even without any prodding from me whatsoever.
3 Tbsp ground oatmeal (not instant)
3 Tbsp baking soda
3 Tbsp of honey
3 Tbsp of water
Ground up your oatmeal in a blender. I have another container I use to store the unused portion so that, when it’s time to make a new batch, my oatmeal is ready to go.
Add the oatmeal and the baking soda to the baby food jar.
Next, add the water. Put the lid on the jar and shake it vigorously. This helps shrink the mixture down and thin it out enough to mix it with the honey.
Add the honey to the jar and shake again. Really shake it so that all of the ingredients mix together well. The solution will likely be thin at first, but will thicken overnight as the oatmeal absorbs the water and honey.
When it’s time to use the cleanser, you may need to reshake the jar or stir it with your finger first. The thinner the mixture is, the more the ingredients will separate with the heavier baking soda settling on the bottom.
Understanding that this recipe is the one that has been working wonders on my skin, you may require a slight adjustment. For example, one of the recipes I tried included a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil. This reduced the abrasion of the baking soda and thickened the solution into a paste-like texture. If you find that my recipe is too harsh for your skin, consider reducing the baking soda to 2 tablespoons and add a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil.
2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
.5 Tbsp of honey
.5 Tbsp of water
Put everything in a jar and, if your coconut oil is soft enough, just shake the jar until everything is mixed; if not, use your finger to mix it together. It should be creamy when you’re done, with a slight brown tint. For your morning moisturizing, use a small amount on the tip of your finger. A little bit of this lotion goes a long way. If you do a pure baking soda scrub at night, use a bit more and really coat your skin to protect it.
Since this lotion is oil-based, be aware that its texture is dependent upon the temperature in the room. If it gets too warm, it will liquify; if it gets too cold, it will be harder. Additionally, keep the lotion in an air-tight jar. The honey in it will crystallize if you leave the lid off. If this happens, simply put some on your finger, run it under water and rub your hands together to smooth it back out.
Pure Baking Soda Scrub
If you have scars that you want to treat, one or two nights per week, wet your face, add about half a tablespoon of baking soda to a damp washcloth, and massage it over your face for about a minute. Thoroughly rinse and put a generous amount of coconut oil over your skin to protect it overnight.
How did I come to these recipes? Well, first I spent some time researching homemade facial scrubs. I came across a lot of recipes online. Some mixed different combinations of these ingredients with oils, vinegar toners, citrus juices, and other household and food products. As I researched those products, I found that the four ingredients in this recipe had all the properties I needed in a skin-care regimen.
After selecting my ingredients, I experimented with different combinations until I found a texture that gave me that clean-skin feeling without being too abrasive, and there were a few days where I scrubbed off a bit too much skin. It’s hard not to get a little zealous about a new scrub, but do start slow or you can do more harm than good, even with these all-natural, homemade recipes.
Let me share a summary of this research with you, including some cautions about using baking soda recipes on your skin as it can affect the pH of your skin.
Oatmeal is not only a gentle exfoliant, it helps reduce swelling, dryness and itching in skin. Its starches, beta-glucan, saponins and phenols have been shown to not only help problem skin heal, but actually buffer and clean skin.
Honey is both antiseptic and provides a layer of protection for wounds. It is also a natural preservative for your homemade recipes. It’s also a great way to lighten scars, moisturize skin and treat eczema.
Baking soda is an abrasive that exfoliates the skin. In addition to whitening teeth, baking soda can provide various levels of skin cleansing from light exfoliation to a microdermabrasion-like treatment.
Unrefined coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer for hair and skin. Various studies suggest that coconut oil is effective at treating some skin conditions and conditioning hair. Remember, a little bit goes a long way.
Balancing the pH
In my research, I encountered some who caution against using baking soda on your skin. After all, some use this chemical to scrub their sinks and toilets. The main objection is that our skin has a natural acidic top layer, or an acid mantel, that protects us from bacteria. Scrubbing this layer away can cause worse breakouts, and do that is especially easy with baking soda, which is a base. The above recipes and skin care regimen works to keep your skin’s pH at the right level and maintain a protective layer at all times.
If you find that you’re breaking out too much, reduce how vigorously you scrub. I noticed, in the first couple weeks, that I was breaking out after doing my microdermabrasion treatments with baking soda. Of course, I was doing it two consecutive nights. When I cut that down to one night a week, I stopped breaking out. Your skin is unique so you’ll need to use a little trial and error to find the right regimen for you, but err on the side of caution.
Oatmeal pH is about 5.5 (weak acid) – about the same as black coffee or urine
Honey has an average pH of about 3.9 (moderate acid) – about the same as tomato juice and acid rain
Baking soda has a pH of about 9 (weak alkaline)
Water is neutral
Using only the oatmeal and baking soda with water would create a slightly acidic, but close to neutral solution. Adding a bit of honey tips the scale toward the acidic side, which helps fend off bacteria and match the natural pH of your skin, which is about 4.5 to 5.