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Thumbnail for Suki Waterhouse uses this bank-account-friendly pantry item as an exfoliator
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Photo: Getty Images/Rich Fury

Baking soda is pretty much a jane-of-all-trades in the wellness world. The all-star ingredient offers uses that expand far beyond the kitchen: It can help you give yourself a salon-worthy pedicure, make your laundry smell super-fresh, get rid of those embarrassing self-tanner streaks, and even stave off autoimmune diseases. As if you’re not already impressed, just wait: Suki Waterhouse also swears by its exfoliating powers for leaving her complexion looking bright and silky-smooth.

When the actress and model doesn’t have any other exfoliators on hand, she turns to none other than the pantry staple. “You shouldn’t do this too often, but if you really need a quick fix, mix a tiny bit of baking soda into your moisturizer. Then you mush it all in and wash it off. If you haven’t got a lot around, it’s great,” she tells Harper’s Bazaar.

“You shouldn’t do this too often, but if you really need a quick fix, mix a tiny bit of baking soda into your moisturizer. Then you mush it all in and wash it off.” —Suki Waterhouse

According to dermatologist Libby Rhee, DO, when used gently, baking soda can help “refresh and rejuvenate the skin’s appearance by removing some of the dead skin on the surface. It can also minimize the appearance of pores and facilitate more efficient skin cell turnover.” The only problem? While using it once every other week as part of your cleansing routine is fine, Rhee says any more than that could have consequences. “Unlike other DIY favorites—like table salt and sugar, which are pH-neutral—baking soda is an alkaline or basic substance,” she explains. “If used regularly, the alkaline properties of the baking soda can significantly disturb the natural skin barrier and its pH-balanced properties.”

Due to this, your attempt at a flawless complexion could result in stripping your skin of its natural oils and healthy bacteria, making it more susceptible to “irritation, infection, breakouts, and even premature aging,” Dr. Rhee says. So if you do try Waterhouse’s hack, maybe just stick to her tried and true once-a-month schedule for exfoliating with baking soda. Because unfortunately in this case, you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

Here’s the easiest ways to exfoliate from head to toe, according to skin-care pros. Or, check out the OG toner Lucy Hale uses for super-smooth skin.

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