Baking Soda vs. Sugar on the Face

When looking for inexpensive products to use on your face, you don’t have to go further than your kitchen pantry. Two common kitchen staples -- baking soda and sugar -- can be added to your daily skin care routine and can often replace expensive store-bought products 2. The best part of using either of these two products on your face is that they are all-natural, so you don’t have to worry about putting harsh chemicals on your skin. If you know the differences between the effects of baking soda and sugar, you can make the right choice for your skin 2.

Baking Soda

The scientific name for baking soda is sodium bicarbonate 2. It’s all-natural and is used to neutralize pH, meaning it balances acidity and alkalinity. Baking soda is commonly used in cooking, but it can also be used as part of your beauty regimen 2. It’s somewhat abrasive, which works well for exfoliating the skin and removing dead skin cells. According to the book “500 Uses for Baking Soda,” this white, powdery substance can also be used to treat acne by gently cleaning impurities from the skin 23.


Like baking soda, sugar is abrasive, although slightly more so 2. It can be used to exfoliate the face and slough off dry skin. Sugar is also a natural humectant, so it draws natural moisture from the environment and helps your skin absorb it. Using sugar on your face will get rid of dry skin while still keeping it moisturized. Additionally, sugar is high in alpha hydroxy acid, which helps promote the growth of new cells, so it’s ideal as an anti-aging product for the face. You can use brown sugar or white sugar on your skin and reap the same benefits. Brown sugar isn’t quite as abrasive as white sugar, so if you have sensitive skin, opt for brown.

How to Use on the Face

Baking soda can be used on your face to exfoliate by mixing three parts baking soda with one part warm water 2. Stir the mixture to form a paste, then rub it onto your freshly cleansed skin using a circular motion. You can make the paste with olive oil instead of water if you want added moisture. Rinse with warm water to remove paste and pat your skin dry. To use baking soda as an acne treatment, make a thick paste of baking soda and water, then apply it directly to the acne spots 2. Leave it on your face for five minutes, then rinse it off. Use a baking soda acne paste about once a week 2.

To use sugar on your face, mix a tablespoon of brown or white sugar with a few drops of olive oil. You can also add essential oil to give the scrub a nice scent. Another option is to add a few drops of honey and lemon juice to the sugar to clarify and add moisture to the skin. Once you’ve made the scrub, rub it gently onto your face using a circular motion, then rinse with warm water.

Other Considerations

Both baking soda and sugar are abrasive, although they differ in degrees of abrasiveness 2. It’s important to pay attention to your skin for clues regarding whether the scrub is too harsh. If you begin to develop redness or irritation, stop using the sugar or baking soda on your face or cut back on the frequency of use 2. In general, you should use an exfoliating scrub about two times per week. Always avoid the eye area when exfoliating.