Women spend about $426 billion on beauty products each year. You can forgo the expensive products and still look and feel fabulous with just one do-it-all tool - and it only costs about a dollar. Find out how to use plain old baking soda to get great hair, skin, nails, and more.
Help Your Hair Drugstores and beauty supply stores sell expensive shampoos, serums, and dry shampoo formulas to combat product buildup, chlorine damage, and oily hair. All you need to solve all three hair woes is a cheap box of baking soda. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to your usual handful of shampoo to remove buildup, rinse hair with about half a teaspoon dissolved in water to fight chlorine discoloration, or sprinkle a small amount on your scalp and brush for a quick and easy dry shampoo. Baking soda is a great cleaning agent, and easily lifts oils, discolorations, and buildup on your scalp from hairsprays, conditioners, and other products.
Whiten Teeth Several studies published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that not only were toothpastes with baking soda more effective at removing plaque, but baking soda also is more effective at whitening teeth than other products. Want a make-at-home whitener? To banish coffee and wine stains from your smile, many dentists recommend brushing with a powerhouse combination of baking soda and strawberries, which contain malic acid, another natural stain-fighter. Mash a ripe strawberry and combine with baking soda to form a paste. Brush onto teeth for a few minutes, rinse, and then brush with regular toothpaste to remove residue. A word of caution: Don’t use this treatment more than two or three times a month, since too much malic acid could damage your tooth enamel.
Soothe a Sunburn When aloe just isn’t cutting it for soothing sunburnt skin, try baking soda for calming relief. Combine baking soda and water and use a washcloth or soaked cotton balls to apply to your skin, says Hadley C. King, MD, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in an article on Womansday.com. A baking soda and water paste also helps calm itchy bug bites, bee stings, and poison ivy rashes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The alkaline nature of baking soda neutralizes irritants and restores skin’s pH, soothing burning and itching in the process.
Polish Jewelry If your silver jewelry looks old and tarnished, try cleaning it with this simple trick. You just need some baking soda, very hot (almost boiling) water, and aluminum foil. Pour the water into a small bowl and submerge your jewelry. Then add about a tablespoon of baking soda and a sheet of aluminum foil. The combination of the water and baking soda helps lift the tarnish from your jewelry and sticks it to the aluminum. Move the pieces around, making sure that all of your jewelry touches the aluminum. Afterwards, just rinse and polish with a soft cloth. Avoid using this method on jewelry with gemstones or organic material like pearls (which are easily damaged), says the Gemological Institute of America.
Remove Splinters There’s an easier way to remove those tiny, pesky splinters than trying to dig around with a tweezer. The baking soda helps swell the skin and draw the splinter to the surface. Simply make a paste of baking soda and water, apply to the area, and cover with a bandage. After about 24 hours, the splinter should be sticking out enough that you can pull it out with tweezers. If not, repeat the process.
Smell Better You can even use baking soda in place of your deodorant. A pinch of baking soda mixed with water provides a paste that doubles as a natural deodorant. If you’re having trouble making it stick, try applying a little cornstarch first. But if you aren’t ready to part with your antiperspirant, just sprinkle some baking soda in your shoes for an easy, cheap deodorizer.
Get Cleaner Nails Yellowing, stained nails can make your hands look older. Nail experts recommend making a paste with equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, and using a nail scrub brush to scrub underneath and on top of your nails. Let it sit for a few minutes and rinse off. Persistently yellow nails, however, could be a sign of a fungal infection. See a doctor if your nails don’t lighten up.
Exfoliate Rough Skin Baking soda is also great as an exfoliator. Use three parts baking soda to one part water and rub onto rough elbows, feet, hands, or other spots to exfoliate dry, scaly skin. Do not use on cracked or broken skin, however.
Samuel L. JacksonGabe Ginsberg via Getty Images