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Lemon and Baking Soda Scrub DIY

Wondering how to make your own scrub using ingredients from your kitchen? Check out how I make a DIY lemon and baking soda scrub at home.

How to make a lemon and baking soda scrub

I love things that are good for me, easy to make, and made of things I already have. This exfoliating face wash meets all three of those things. Before discovering this homemade mix, I used Modern Friction by Origins for my twice-a-week exfoliant. To exfoliate, brighten, and soothe, Modern Friction contains rice starch bits, lemon oil, and aloe, among other ingredients.

But although I love Origins, I thought Modern Friction felt a little rough on my face, and I also didn’t like the price. These days, I’m using a homemade mix modeled after Modern Friction to mimic the effects of a store-bought exfoliant wash.

half of a lemon and baking soda on a table

What I use for my DIY lemon and baking soda scrub

For my exfoliating granules, I use baking soda. I like using baking soda as an exfoliant because it’s a very fine grain that doesn’t cause my face much irritation. For body scrubs, I use sugar- and salt for an exfoliant, but sugar and salt aren’t great exfoliants for my face. I like to think of sugar and salt as sanding, while using baking soda is more like buffing. I don’t want to sand my face.

For brightening, cleansing, and removing dead skin cells, I add lemon juice, which contains citric acid. Citric acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid, many of which have become popular skincare ingredients. According to the Cleveland Clinic, alpha-hydroxy acids may help with fine lines, irregular pigmentation and age spots, and enlarged pores. (Read more about citric acids here.)

Some articles advise against using citric acids in homemade skincare products because they cause short-term increased sun sensitivity and could irritate sensitive skin. But while I agree that it’s best not to rub straight lemon juice on your face, I don’t think you should overlook citric acid’s benefits.

If you’re worried, do a test spot to gauge your skin’s reaction, diluting your lemon juice with water, or chatting with a dermatologist. All skin types should avoid direct sunlight or slather on the sunblock for the 24 hours after application.

For moisture, I add coconut oil, which prevents my skin from getting too angry after being exfoliated and negates the need for additional lotion after the scrub. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil is optional, and I only add them when my skin is in the midst of a particularly problematic phase.

half of a lemon and baking soda on a table

Like this DIY lemon scrub? Check out my DIY eucalyptus salt scrub recipe, my baked bath salts recipe, and my DIY honey and beeswax lip balm!

Supplies I used for this tutorial

  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (from a bottle is okay if you don’t have lemons).
  • 1/8 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil (optional—good if you are prone to breakouts)
  • Small bowl, stirring spoon, and measuring spoons

And here’s how I made my scrub!

(Don’t use any ingredients you’re allergic to, and always spot test new ingredients to make sure you don’t have a reaction to them. Do not use any homemade products without consulting with an appropriate medical professional first.)

Step 1: First I mix 1/2 tbsp lemon juice with 1 tbsp baking soda. It will fizz. I stir until it becomes a paste.

lemon juice and baking soda in a small bowl

Step 2: I add coconut oil—preferably in liquid form. If I’m adding tea tree oil, I add now. Honestly, both of these are optional, but I like adding a bit of coconut oil to help with moisture.

Step 3: Finally, I stir well and apply. I put a layer on my dry face, let it sit for about 1 minute, add a bit of warm water and scrub into my skin for another 1 minute, and then wash off.

Note: I find it’s easier to make a new mixture each time I want to use this scrub. Remember that over-exfoliating will irritate the skin. Most store-bought exfoliants recommend exfoliating once or twice per week. And I always apply extra sunscreen if I’m going outside after using citric acid on my skin!

lemon juice and baking soda in a small bowl

For more fun DIY beauty recipes, check out my tips for how to make baked bath salts, as well as my DIY whipped body butter recipe and stress-relieving bath soak.

Is lemon and baking soda good for your skin?

Yep! Well, it’s good for my skin, and it’s good for a lot of different skin types. The juice from lemons can help to brighten skin and fade discoloration, while baking soda is a very gentle exfoliant. Combined, they do a nice tag-team buff and polish.

But remember that this is a DIY blog where I share what works best for me, and what works for me might not work for everyone. I’d encourage you to read many blogs and recipes that inspire you to find what’s best for you, and always remember to test any ingredient mixture on a small part of your skin first.

How long do you leave baking soda and lemon on your face?

Speaking testing on a small part of your face, you also want to test to see how long you should keep it on your face. I only let mine sit on my face for about 1 minute and then scrub it for another minute. Others might want to let the mixture sit on their face for longer, but my skin is pretty sensitive.

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