Baking soda is a DIYer’s dream: You can cook with it, clean with it, brush your teeth with it, destink your fridge (and your armpits) with it, fix your nails with it, get shinier hair with it, and exfoliate your skin (and you know I’m a fan of that) with it. So when everybody at the Allure office started talking about the Bioré Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub, we wondered how the editor fave would stack up against old-school homemade baking soda concoctions.
The fine structure of baking soda granules makes it an ideal exfoliant and stain remover, whether on your tile grout or your pearly whites, which also means it’s great at clearing up the dead skin cells, oil, and gunk that can accumulate in your pores. The fact that the grains also break down and dissolve as you scrub makes it great for sensitive types.
While it’s hard to outdo the orange-box quotient of the traditional DIY recipe (a basic blend of baking soda and a few drops of mild cleanser), the Bioré scrub is no slouch in its sodium bicarbonate content (that’s baking soda, don’tcha know). But the prepackaged scrub also includes a healthy dose of citric acid and microcrystalline cellulose for even more pore-clearing power, plus silica to suck up pore-clogging oil and sodium cocoyl isethionate to generate a sudsy cleansing effect.
These extra ingredients definitely make a difference in the scrub’s texture. Where the plain-old cleanser-and-baking soda mix made a thick, gummy paste (see the right side of the photo above) that just barely foamed when I added water, the Bioré scrub (shown on the left) went full fourth-grade science experiment, bubbling and puffing up in my hand.
That carbonation effect had dissipated by the time I rubbed the formula into my skin, leaving the packaged scrub with a thinner, almost milky feel. The grit (left, in the photo below) was also much finer, making it easy to smooth on and gentler than the straight-up baking soda version. As a cherry on top, the Bioré scrub also contains menthol, which really gives it that so-fresh-and-so-clean sensation, though if you have seriously sensitive skin, that minty tingle might be too much for your face to handle.
Conversely, the handcrafted (hey, I keep my home spa fancy) scrub had more grit to it, like very fine sand. Even after adding more water and lathering the soap inside the mixture, it stayed fairly pasty and slightly dry on my skin (on the right in the photo above). I enjoyed that more heavy-duty exfoliating sensation, and the longevity of the gritty texture gave me ample time to get into every nook and pore-filled cranny, whereas the packaged scrub had mostly melted away before I really had a chance to deep clean.
As for the results, I can’t say there was a dramatic, immediate difference in my skin after using either scrub. Both left my skin feeling smoother and did a good job of cleaning out the visible gunk buildup in my pores. I didn’t notice any significant change in the oiliness of my face from the Bioré version’s oil-absorbing silica (see the right side of the photo below), but then again, I didn’t notice any from the lack of silica in the homemade scrub either (on the left).
If you’re looking to work a baking-soda scrub into your routine, you can’t go wrong with either of these options. It doesn’t get much more convenient than the Biore scrub: Just add water and go—in fact, go far and wide with the pop-top canister that seems to have been built for travel. Or satisfy your inner control freak by doctoring up your own blend of baking soda and cleanser. No matter which breed of scrub appeals to you, I guarantee your pores will thank you.
For more advice on DIY skin care, watch this!