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Cleanse Oily Facial Skin With Baking Soda and Coconut Oil

Christen is a forty-something mom, knitting instructor, skin care enthusiast, novelist, and freelance writer.

Get clean, beautiful, naturally balanced skin using only two ingredients from your kitchen

Get clean, beautiful, naturally balanced skin using only two ingredients from your kitchen

Control Your Oily Skin

It's possible you have already read my article about cleaning your face organically and naturally using coconut oil—maybe you think that's all well and good for me, but what about you, my reader, who has naturally oily skin? Wouldn't oil only make it more...oily?

The answer is no! Oil actually dissolves oil; however, it may be that putting more oil on your face simply isn't something that people with oily skin are willing to do. And I understand. But do not fear! There are other alternatives to help you control your oily skin.

How to Make and Use a Cleanser With Baking Soda and Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil

Your main ingredients are baking soda and coconut oil. Follow this process for four weeks, and report back to me.

Baking Soda Facial Wash:

  • Take your usual facial wash, mix it in your palms with a ½ to 1 full teaspoon of baking soda and apply to your face. (These measurements are guides; if you feel an amount is too much, or you're are hesitant about the method, start with 1/4 teaspoon. You may find it is all you need).
  • Rub gently into your skin. If you scrub hard, your skin will hate you and over-produce more oils almost immediately. Baking soda is a natural, soft abrasive ingredient that will gently exfoliate your skin while absorbing excess oil and absorbing odors and contaminants hidden in the skin.
  • Do this no more than three times per week, with a free day in between. If you wish to use your normal face wash in between those days, that is fine, but I don't recommend it. Your face could use the time to rest and figure out what it wants.
  • As the days and weeks go by, decrease the amount of facial wash you use while maintaining the amount of baking soda you use until you are using just baking soda. Eventually, you won't even need the baking soda.
  • If you want to speed up the detox process, then immediately switch to solely using baking soda and water. Mix them together to create a paste and gently rub it over your face.


The greatest failure of the mainstream facial cleanser industry is misinforming the public about the skin's need for moisture. They often claim the only moisture your skin needs is more hydration through water—and that is partly true: you need water and your skin will love you if drink at least 40 ounces every day. But your skin needs oil as well; it is what makes skin work to be soft, supple, and to protect itself from the sun, the pollutants in the air, and the wrinkles we think we'll take gracefully.

Oily skin can be problematic, but your skin is oily because it is saying, “Hey! Stop drying me out!”

After you wash with baking soda, your skin will feel squeaky clean and rosy pink; but it will also be dry and your skin will want to react by creating oil. As soon as you are out of the shower and have not dried your face, dip your fingertips in some extra-virgin coconut oil and rub over your face.

Extra-virgin coconut oil is a very light, anti-microbial oil loaded with vitamin E and omega 3's. The lightness of the oil and its exceptional properties make it a perfect replacement oil on your face. Your body absorbs it well and processes it cleanly while still allowing your pores to breathe and recognize that they need not overproduce their own oil.

Do not be skimpy with the coconut oil. Be sure to get to particular areas of your face that are less oily than normal and massage well. Not only does the massage feel good and promote good skin health, but the coconut oil smells delicious and soothing.



After about four weeks—or sooner if your skin is resilient and longer if your skin was particularly mistreated before—you will find that you no longer need face wash. A washcloth and water will be the perfect cleaning agents for your face, providing healthy hydration and a soft exfoliation to slough off any dead skin. The coconut moisturizer may still be a part of your routine until the oils in your face are well balanced and secure. This can take up to a year to achieve, but I am quite fine with that. Massaging my face with the sweet smell of a tropical island never hurt me!

Did You Know Skin Is Self-Cleaning?

Our skin is meant to have protective oils. As an organ, our skin is actually self-cleaning and the oils our body naturally produces through our pores acts to keep your face clean. But our current mainstream diets and cleaning supplies—which are wrought with chemicals and biology experiments—are not giving our biggest organ the opportunity to do its job. We think we know best, so we bombard it with the very stuff that clogs it: fatty foods, processed foods, pollutants in the air, facial washes, and moisturizers loaded with synthetic chemicals. What our skin really craves is to be clean, and to breathe, and to be able to do its job.

The facial washes on the market are all great; in fact, I have tried several that amazed me in the first week. After four weeks, however, my skin reacts viciously. Suddenly, it is too dry. Maybe my hormones intervened, maybe stress, maybe my skin had simply had enough of the chemicals. But when it becomes too dry, our skin produces excess oil in an attempt to balance it back out. And then, horror of horrors, when it becomes oily my face looks like the bumpy upper hills of an ant farm.

To get a good balance, use a cleanser with natural ingredients and use it sparingly. Once your skin detoxes, trust it to do what millions of years of evolution have prepared it for: cleaning itself.

A healthy body means  A HEALTHY BODY. Fill it with good stuff.

A healthy body means A HEALTHY BODY. Fill it with good stuff.

Bonus Tips

More research has come out showing that food affects our skin more than we ever thought possible. The biggest culprits are dairy, an overabundance of soy, too much meat, and gluten. If you really want to see if your skin problems comes from food, it is worth it to eliminate these things from your diet for at least eight weeks.

If you only want to try one and see what happens, I recommend cutting out the dairy. It is by far the biggest cause of acne, blemishes, rosacea, and even eczema. You may see results as soon as two weeks. Keep an eye out for hidden dairy, such as whey in bread products. Don't like the hassle? Then only look out for casein, a direct protein of dairy. Casein is found in strange places, such as in kielbasa. Speaking of meat, without cutting it out of your diet, you can instead go for pasture-fed, organic meat and limit your intake.

And as always, drink plenty of filtered water. It does more for you than just hydrate your skin. It also helps you shed water weight, gives you energy, and makes your lips kissably soft!

Do you do something similar? Use different oils? I started with olive oil, but found it was eventually too heavy and the smell wasn't my favorite. Some other people like jojoba oil or even safflower oil. I'd love to hear your own methods, and I would especially love to hear about your results! Please leave feedback or links to pictures if you detox your skin using this method.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on June 09, 2015:

I'm glad that works for you, but for many people, leaving a baking soda paste on the skin will irritate the skin and dry it out profusely. If anybody tries this, start at 2 minutes, maybe, and build up. Just to be safe! (It would make me feel better). ;)

lavin on May 19, 2015:

Hey I have been using baking soda and coconut oil on alternative days . After washing face pet dry it with towel. Make a paste of baking spda and water. Apply it on face for 10minutes and rinse it off with water. After that use 3-4 drps of coconut oil to prevent darkening and moisture the skin. You can see the results in one week

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on August 26, 2014:

Most peoples faces are darker than their necks, simply because your face is exposed to more sunlight while your cheeks and chin cover your neck from exposure. :) If you want to prevent it, or if it bothers you greatly, consider using a sunscreen - you can find many light, moisturizing sunscreens that won't over-moisturize when you wash your face with the coconut oil/baking soda method. Wearing hats while outside can also help, if you are wary of using sunscreens. Be assured, though, that you are not at all different from everybody else in the world - you're the most perfect you I think I've ever seen! :D

parul on August 17, 2014:

I tried this method it worked now my face don't secret oil too much but I've got one more problem that is my face always used to appear darker than rest of body,neck.. I thought its because of oily face but it still persists so tell me any solution.

shel on October 31, 2013:

My skin has been diagnosed as having acne vulgaris and has always been very oily. I'm not complaining since, as I age, I realize what an asset oily skin has been. The use of the toner has added a softness I didn't get before. I like rosewater or rosewater with glycerin or just witch hazel. I usually research every remedy first. I tried the baking soda scrub as recommended to me by my sister. I was already making my own body oil using extra virgin coconut oil (50%, evoo (30%) and grapeseed oil (20%). I mix the baking soda with the moisturizer to make my scrub. I have really liked the results. I added a toner today that I had from Proactiv. My skin is even softer. I think, going forward, if I continue to use a toner, I will use rosewater and glycerin or witch hazel and report back on the result. Also, an added benefit is that the appearance of my pores is shrinking and the two black heads I have are getting smaller as well.

Chris on October 20, 2013:

have you added a drop or two of frankensence to the coconut oil to help with wrinkles?

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on June 22, 2013:

Hi, Komalvirk! My skin has not darkened and I have been using this method for over a year and a half. No, you don't need any other cleansed with the coconut oil method. It does everything for you. And yes, it is A-okay to use regularly. You may find, however, on days you don't wear makeup, that just water with a small amount of coconut oil to moisturize is enough after a few months of use. It is very effective.

Komalvirk on June 17, 2013:

I have heard that coconut oil darkens the skin colour , is it true ? Also want to know if we do coconut wash daily then is there any need of other face wash ? Can we use this method regularly ??

lily on March 28, 2013:

Coconut oil & baking soda mix also removes hair dye from skin!

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on March 17, 2013:

Excellent, Green Art! I like a good combo of coconut oil and baking soda to brush my teeth. I often go with straight coconut oil and nothing else too. I believe it also detoxes the mouth germs a little. I was also given the tip to give a quick rinse with 3% hydrogen peroxide. :D I love being chemical free. :D

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on March 17, 2013:

aashu - I wouldn't use baking soda more than 3 times a week with a good moisturizer, but some people's skin can handle it everyday and even thrives on everyday use. Try it out and see how your skin responds. If you love it, keep it up. If your skin feels like it's going through some rough changes, take your time. Just remember that moisturizing is just as important!

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on March 17, 2013:

The only thing I can think of to help with acne scars is vitamin e oil, applied thinly. Vitamin E regenerates skin cells and worked really well on a surgical scar I have.

Laura Ross on March 14, 2013:

I just tried about a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and my basic hand soap and my skin feels so soft I can hardly believe it. I then applied a nice moisturizer which I normally do in the evening after I wash my face.

As a child I remember brushing my teeth with baking soda too. It's funny to see all the tooth pastes with baking soda in it now. Very useful hub!

aashu on March 12, 2013:

plz tell me can i use baking soda with my facewash? and how many time in a week i will have to add baking soda in my facewash.

Jhay Huet on March 10, 2013:

BigSerious i never try this method i hope it will work for me but i have a problem to in acne scars do you have any tips there to lessen the scar.. this is a serious problem of mine..hope you can help me..

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on March 06, 2013:

I have never done it and I wouldn't recommend it. I feel it would be too drying and force your skin to overproduce more oils. The goal here is to have self moisturizing skin that is balanced and no longer feels the need to overproduce oils due to too much drying.

satrya mandala on March 05, 2013:

but some people told me.alcohol 70% can halp to clean our face from oily alcohol good for clean oily skin,like a sensitive skiin like face too??

My cousin does it..

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on March 03, 2013:

You absolutely can, especially if you don't wear makeup! Just remember to moisturize if your skin needs it.

satrya mandala on March 02, 2013:

Can I wash my face with woter to avoid oily skin?

Shadaan Alam from India on March 01, 2013:

this was an interesting writeup, voted up mainly because i have also oils skin and prone to acne. hope it helps me out

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on February 25, 2013:

For blackheads, I recommend washing with a baking soda paste (baking soda and water), and massaging into the skin in a circular motion. Let the paste dry on the skin, then wash it off. Follow with coconut oil to moisturize it. It won't work immediately, but it will clean your skin out. I have also heard of a facial mask using nutmeg and cinnamon. You may want to try googling it. It is worth noting that since I have started washing with coconut oil, I do not have blackheads. You can read about how to do that here:

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on February 25, 2013:

Hi, Stella! I feel as if I already replied to this message, but maybe I just composed a reply in my head... so if I am repeating myself, I apologize!

First: On the free days, you can either use your facial wash as usual with your facial cleanser of choice, with plain water and a moisturizer after you wash (I recommend virgin or extra virgin coconut oil), or use the coconut oil wash method I wrote about on another hub, which cleanses and moisturizes at the same time (this is what I do). Too many washes with baking soda will hurt your skin and cause it to produce excess oils. It is exfoliating your skin each time, so you don't want to agitate your skin too frequently, which is why I recommend doing this NO MORE than 3 times a week.

When you have decreased the cleanser to the point that you're using just baking soda, I recommend using plain water, or the coconut oil face wash method. If you like the feeling of exfoliation, baking soda is definitely a good choice (as is a plain wash cloth with water, or a sea sponge that you can buy at drugstores). If you don't like the idea of just water, or feel it isn't getting your face clean, use a more diluted baking soda combination. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the coconut oil facial wash method though. It's amazing.

Moisturize with the coconut oil whenever you wash your face. Your face should never get dry, even though that feels counter-intuitive when you have oily skin. You want your skin to have moisture, and when you dry it out, your skin is trying to overcompensate and so produces MORE oils to do so. The problem is that the oil gets out of control. The coconut oil (virgin or extra-virgin) provides the balance you need. It also is loaded with anti-viral properties that detox the skin and kills bacteria. It also has naturally occurring vitamin e, which regenerates skin cells.

Read the coconut oil wash article. You may choose to skip the baking soda completely and try the coconut oil first (be warned: because the coconut oil detoxes your skin, you may break out for 2 weeks, but after that, you have beautiful skin. YOU WILL!)

marie on February 21, 2013:

How can I get rid of black heads please

Stella on February 21, 2013:

I have always had a problem with oily skin and really want to try this but I have a few questions. You say to do the baking soda facial wash no more than 3 times a week with a free day in between, what do you wash your face with then on the free days? Also you say that as time goes on you decrease the amount of cleanser until you're just using baking soda and then eventually you won't need the bakin soda at all..... My question is then what do you wash your face with? Also do you moisturizer with the coconut oil once or twice a day? Thanks a lot!

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on February 21, 2013:

You can clean your face with this method if you are concerned about an oily face, it you can wash your face with coconut oil, per my other hub (there is a link above). If you wash with this method, I recommend moisturizing with the coconut oil. I use baking soda when I want a good exfoliation, or if I neglected my face and have clogged pores and extra oils. But the coconut oil method is what I use nearly everyday.

am on February 21, 2013:

You talk about using the coconut oil as a moisturizer but in the comments you talk about using it to clean off make confused so how do you clean it off and after you clean it do you add more coconut oil to your face?

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on February 07, 2013:

ismmet: It does work, but you will definitely need to be diligent about moisturizing afterward, and moisturizing well. I suggest, before you start this (which can be drying), try washing with coconut oil first. Check out my hub about washing your face with coconut oil; I think you'll be surprised with how effective it is. :)

kismmet on February 07, 2013:

Does this work for dry skin, that gets blackheads?

Maya Pillai from Pune on January 29, 2013:

Thanks for the info. I tried this out before commenting on your blog. Hopping to see blogs of this sort.

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on January 20, 2013:

Also try washing with oil without the clarisonic. It may be emulsifying the oil, making it ineffective.

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on January 20, 2013:

If you're going for a natural option, the closest, aside from coconut oil or baking soda, that I can suggest is cetaphil. It is moisturizing and good for the skin. Apply it liberally to dry skin, massage into skin, and wipe off with a washcloth. (the coconut oil method is to use a good amount on moist skin, such as after a shower, and massage well. Then lay a hot wet cloth over your face for about 30-60 seconds and wipe off excess oil). Since I don't know your method with the coconut oil, I can't make a better recommendation, but I admit I am surprised it doesn't work for you. What kind of make up do you use? Perhaps that makeup's ingredients are the problem. I have yet to run into a problem with leftover makeup after the oil (i use either a benefit foundation, tarte, or bare minerals, depending on my mood). I wish you luck! The fewer chemicals you can use in your routine, the better. If these don't work, i recommend trying a new makeup brand and seeing if you notice a positive difference.

faceforward on January 20, 2013:

Coconut, olive oil or joboba do not do the job for me. I seem to need an additional cleanser (and I use a clarisonic too) or a makeup remover in addition to oils.

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on January 20, 2013:

Coconut oil removes makeup really really well. It's what I use and I use foundation, bronzer, blush, eyeliner, eye shadow, brow shadow, mascara, and lipstick, as well as a brow highlighter. In short: trust me. Read my coconut oil hub to see how it works, and use a cotton ball for your eyes.

faceforward on January 20, 2013:

What about removing makeup? I realize the benefit of this is to not need makeup. But until that day comes, I use foundation. Oil and baking soda isn't enough to remove to cleanse it. Any suggestions?

Sugar on January 16, 2013:

Has anybody tried this who has dry skin, but adult acne prone?

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on January 12, 2013:

Chesfi - this method, while alternated with the cocnut wash method, would be great for you. You will most likely have break outs for 2-3 weeks once started because your skin is detoxing, but it should start clearing up after that.

Ashley - Yay! I'm glad it is working for you! Currently, I do the baking soda scrub only once every 2 weeks. I do the coconut wash once a week or whenever I wear makeup, and moisturize with the oil (a small amount) when I don't do the wash. When I started, I did the coconut oil every day after a shower and the baking soda when I felt dry skin around my forehead and nose while washing. I found that once my skin detoxed, I didn't need to do either method too frequently.

Ashley on January 11, 2013:

Thank you for the article! I started doing this but completely went the wrong way about it. Coconut oil and baking soda does work better for my skin better than any store bought face wash. My question though, do you use the baking soda scrub/coconut oil before bed or in the morning? Also, do use now use the coconut oil everyday after the shower or just the 3x a week. Thank you

chesfi on December 23, 2012:

hi bigserious,i am bit worried of using this method be'coz my face oily and acne prone,i get acne on my face only after a day or two around my cheeks...i m much worried....plz help

Jessica Bamford-Love on December 02, 2012:

Great article! I've been using the oil-cleansing method for almost 3 months now, and I'm loving it! This detox method I'll keep in mind for advising others to quit their drugstore cleansers. I have a friend who washes only with honey, and she loves it. P.S. I've gone no poo as well, but I missed the sensory things that go with shampoo, like a pleasant scent, so now I use a natural sulfate-free shampoo bar a couple times a week.

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on November 05, 2012:

I have only heard that honey, or a honey/sugar scrub are great as a facial wash, but haven't tried it yet. Regarding vinegar, I use it as the main ingredient in my all purpose household cleaner (see in my list of hubs) and I dilute 1 tbsp vinegar in one cup of water and use it as a conditioning rinse in my hair (i wash with 1tbsp baking soda to 1 cups water and some tea tree pop). My hair is very soft. It's a process though, called "no poo" and worth researching. Have fun!

Alicja from Switzerland on November 04, 2012:

Really nice article, Ive been reading in internet about home made cosmetics for quite a while, but this is the first time I find meaningful and long term plan to actually balance skin, I was looking for that! :) It also proves what I was suspecting that skin is smart, living organ and that balancing it takes time and patience.

Do you have any experience with other home remedies like honey or vinegar? Please share as much as you can :)

TeachableMoments from California on September 08, 2012:

Very useful hub. Voted up!! I suffer from extremely oily skin and found your hub to be very helpful. Thank you. I will try some of your suggestions.

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on September 05, 2012:

Absolutely, fulloflove! Let me know how it works for you. :)

FullOfLoveSites from United States on September 05, 2012:

So it could also be recommended for a combination skin like mine. I will try your tips. Thanks so much. :)

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on July 26, 2012:

Mix with your usual facewash - whatever amount you normally use. If you feel it is too strong, start with less. And rub gently! That's so important.

The measurements are used as guides, but go with whatever amount you feel best using. Even the smallest amount (say, 1/4 teaspoon) of baking soda is enough to start making a difference.

I will add this info and be sure it's clear in the article. Thank you. ;)

someone-somehow from Pondicherry(UT), India on July 26, 2012:

I've a doubt. 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon of baking soda to be mixed with which one? you didn't mention that mam. pls tell.

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on July 25, 2012:

I have never thought to use castor oil! I have used a jojoba and argan oil blend and loved it. But have not encountered coconut problems yet. I will have to see if I want to try castor oil. Thanks for letting me know!

whichwitchwriter on July 25, 2012:

Hi BigSerious, yes I use the oil cleanse method and originally started out with a 50/50 mix of coconut oil and castor oil and during the warmer months it was just too much for my skin. I got a great tan but i broke out around my hairline. For the past 6 months i've been using a 50/50 mix of castor oil and jojoba oil and it works so much better for my skin. I have oily skin mostly in the t-zone.

Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on July 25, 2012:

Thank you for commenting. I haven't run into any problems using coconut oil (I started with washing my face with just coconut oil) and have oily skin, but it is certainly good to know some people may have different reactions.

whichwitchwriter on July 25, 2012:

With oily skin types you have to be careful with using coconut oil in your skincare routine. Some unfortunately, prone to acne and using coconut oil will increase this condition. I wasn't aware of using baking soda and found this to be an interesting fact. Thank you for sharing your article.