Baking soda and coconut oil are both traditionally used for cooking and baking, but they also pop up in popular home remedies for a range of concerns.

More recently, they’ve gained some major social media cred as ingredients in DIY beauty products for those looking for natural products and miraculous results.

Both coconut oil and baking soda have some proven benefits and uses, but should they be part of your skin and beauty arsenal? Let’s see.

Coconut oil

There are people who swear by coconut oil as a moisturizer, acne cure, and anti-wrinkle treatment. It’s not entirely surprising, given that some studies have found coconut oil — or at least the lauric acid that makes up more than half of its fatty acids — to have benefits.

These include anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which could help with wound healing and certain inflammatory skin conditions.

Despite these potential benefits, applying coconut oil to the skin isn’t for everyone. Coconut oil can clog pores, which can make acne worse and be especially problematic for people with oily skin.

If you have sensitive skin, speak to a dermatologist before trying coconut oil on your skin as it may cause irritation.

Baking soda

Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is an ingredient for cleansing and toning skin in natural beauty circles. While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence online that it may help with acne, there’s no scientific evidence linking baking soda to less acne.

In fact, baking soda might actually do more harm than good when applied to your skin. This is because of its effect on your skin’s pH balance.

Your skin is naturally acidic with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. This is the ideal range to keep skin moisturized and protected from bacteria and pollutants.

Baking soda, on the other hand, has a pH of between 8 and 9. When you disrupt your skin’s balance by applying a strong alkaline base, you risk stripping skin of its natural oils, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria and other harmful elements.

The verdict

the verdict: skip it

When it comes to your skin, leave the coconut oil and baking soda in the kitchen. There are better ways to wash your face that won’t clog your pores or strip your skin of its natural oils. And for the record, it’s unlikely that combining the two ingredients will balance things out.

Coconut oil

Many people recommend coconut oil for hair. It’s said to help moisturize the hair and scalp and prevent breakage, tame frizz, and cure dandruff. Some people also credit it for helping them grow their hair faster.

There’s some truth to these claims. Applying coconut oil to your hair before washing it may help to prevent protein loss, protecting your tresses against breakage. Just be careful not to overdo it, which can result in an oily scalp and hair.

Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties may also help some types of dandruff. But it could backfire and make things worse if your dandruff if caused by seborrheic dermatitis. In this case, coconut oil could cause further irritation and worsen the condition.

Baking soda

Thanks to the “no poo” movement, more people are using baking soda for hair as an alternative to shampoo. Baking soda dissolved in water is supposed to remove excess oil and dirt, leaving hair softer and shinier.

Before ditching your “poo” for baking soda, you should consider the research, which has found that baking soda can actually damage your hair and cause skin irritation.

Baking soda’s pH level is considerably higher than that of your scalp or hair, which can result in:

  • scalp irritation
  • cuticle damage
  • breakage
  • frizz
the verdict: proceed with caution

You can experiment with applying a thin layer of coconut oil to hair before washing, but it’s best to keep it off your scalp. Don’t bother with baking soda during your hair routine. It’s generally too harsh for your hair, even when mixed with coconut oil.

Coconut oil

There is some evidence that oil pulling with coconut oil kills certain types of bacteria that may help prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Oil pulling is an ancient method that involves rinsing or swishing oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes.

Just don’t swap it for your usual toothpaste — there’s no evidence that brushing with coconut oil has any benefits.

Baking soda

Baking soda for teeth isn’t new. Numerous toothpaste brands have baking soda formulations available and there’s a lot of evidence to support the benefits of toothpaste with baking soda.

Baking soda toothpaste has been shown to:

  • kill bacteria
  • reduce plaque and gingivitis
  • reduce stains and whiten teeth
  • reduce cavities and tooth decay
the verdict: give it a try

Both coconut oil and baking soda have potential benefits for your oral health. You can try mixing them together to make a toothpaste, but the coconut oil won’t do you many favors. Instead, use coconut oil for oil pulling and consider using a baking soda-based toothpaste.

Baking soda and coconut oil have loads of proven benefits. But some of their beauty-related claims to fame are a bit exaggerated. Still, it could be worth giving oil pulling a whirl or giving your hair a pre-wash coconut oil treatment if you’re looking to add them to your routine.