5 Natural Skin Care Alternatives To Baking Soda That Are Just As Easy To Use At Home — PHOTOS

Baking soda was a huge part of my early DIY beauty life after I ditched soap. Unsure of how to clean my face, I used it frequently until I found alternatives to baking soda that exfoliate and cleanse my skin. Many other natural beauty aficionados have learned the hard way that this soap alternative can often be too harsh on your skin. I was aware that the alkalizing properties of baking soda, which has a pH level of 9, could potentially damage my skin, but it was clearing up my cystic outbreaks. It wasn't until the natural deodorants I was whipping up began to darken my armpits that I started hunting for a baking soda alternative.

The natural pH level of our skin leans acidic — as Into The Gloss reported, 5.5 is typically considered the ideal skin pH — while internally, our bodies tend to be between 7 and 9. According to Skincare Rx, the pH level of skin can be thrown off by topical ingredients by creating an alkalizing environment that interferes with our sebum glands aka the acid mantle that protect us from external damages. Overuse of alkaline products, whether in store bought skin care or through natural ingredients, can leave skin prone to both acne and excessive dryness.

Too much acidity can be a problem too: According to clinical research published in Acta Dermato-Venereologica, having a skin regimen that is too acidic can weaken the natural defense to bacteria and free radicals that also cause the above mentioned skin conditions. This is one reason why home remedies for acne featuring acidic ingredients are often accompanied by baking soda to balance the skin's pH level.

However, if you're finding that that baking soda is irritating your skin, you can try substituting in these five ingredients below. I've found them to be equally as effective at exfoliation, without irritating my face.

1. Cornmeal

This gluten-free fave has great cleansing potential. The fine granules gently exfoliate the skin (much like baking soda) and contains antioxidants, which according to the abovementioned article in Skincare Rx preserves the acid mantle. For an easy cornmeal brightening mask, I like to mix cornmeal, fresh squeezed lemon, and green apple. While cornmeal is moderately acidic, apples are moderately alkaline, so they balance each other out. Start with a very small amount of acidic lemon juice for brightening until you know how your skin reacts.

2. Pumpkin Seeds

The benefits of pumpkin are as desirable as a pumpkin spiced latte and the seeds are a great alternative to baking soda. Grind raw pumpkin seeds for a cleansing exfoliate to clear up blemishes. If using raw pumpkin, rinse the pulp from raw pumpkin seeds and allow to air dry before you grinding. Add some distilled water to soften the seeds and make blending easier, since you'll want to grind it down to a super fine consistency that mimics flour.

For my exfoliating pumpkin mask, I vigorously mixed raw honey and nutmeg with my pumpkin "flour." Pumpkin seeds are moderately alkalizing and may support skin issues from too much acidity while raw honey creates stability in stressed-out skin.

3. Oats

Oatmeal is a popular exfoliate/alternative to baking soda, but you'll definitely want to grind them down well to avoid any harshness on your face. Blend unflavored, dry, raw oatmeal to create a gentle powder for your skin (the oats are soft enough for most blenders to handle). Oat flour has a neutral pH level making it a perfect base for a homemade facial. I added a banana and milk for an incredibly gentle facial that left my skin hydrated and clean.

4. Coffee Grinds

Unlike baking soda, coffee has a similar pH level to the natural environment of our skin. It also has a good amount of antioxidants to protect our skin. Coffee grinds can be used dry or wet for an exfoliating wake-up call to dull skin and bags under the eyes. I love adding honey, bananas, cantaloupe pulp, or any favorite breakfast-y foods!

5. Chickpea aka Gram Flour

Chickpeas are another antioxidant-rich ingredient with a neutral pH level. When powdered they go by gram flour, which sources claim to have a healthy, alkalizing level for the body. Make your own chickpea flour cleansing mask to control excess oil and its pH balancing properties and add avocado and herbs for a toning facial that won't leave you high and dry.

The way we internally process ingredients may differ from how our skin reacts to them. Healthy pH levels in the above-mentioned alternatives may also vary depending on recipes and purity of ingredients. We know skin should maintain a healthy pH level and a slightly acidic or alkaline ingredient may be appropriate at times: Baking soda can be good for your skin, but it's good to mix it up with these gentler ingredients too.

Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (6)