The $3 pantry product that works wonders on your hair and skin

We're calling it: Bi-carb soda is the unsung hero of your household. While this product is commonly used for cleaning the grease out of your oven or bringing the sparkle back to your surfaces, it also doubles as an essential ingredient to include in your beauty regime.

What is bi-carb soda?

Also known as baking soda, bi-carb is a naturally-occurring mineral called sodium bicarbonate or soda ash. "There is quite a lot of processing that gets it from its original form as soda ash to the white powder we're used to seeing in the supermarket," says Bianca Piscopo, spokesperson for McKenzie's Bi-Carb Soda.

What is the difference between bi-carb soda, baking soda and baking powder?

In Australia and New Zealand, we tend to use the terms bi-carb soda and baking soda, even though they are the same thing. Baking powder, however, is different and while it works on similar principles the two aren't interchangeable. "Bi-carb soda reacts when it is combined with another acid like vinegar," explains Bianca. "Baking powder is made up of bi-carb soda and a few other things, including cream of tatar." Baking powder is designed to react in baked goods and already comes with the acidic agent mixed in, so it will always react once combined with other ingredients such as milk. 

7 of the best bi-carb beauty hacks:

Exfoliate dry skin

Shake off the remnants of winter with a hydrating scrub featuring two everyday household items. Combine 1/4 teaspoon of bi-carb with your regular shower gel or body wash and mix thoroughly. Before you apply the scrub, make sure the soda is dissolved properly and then apply to your body using gentle, circular motions.

Remove fake tan

If you want to avoid the patchy aftermath of a spray tan, bi-carb can help you enjoy a clean removal. Make a paste using half a cup of bi-carb with half a cup of lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Apply the paste to your skin, paying special attention to areas such as the back of the knees and elbows, and leave for a few minutes. Rinse off the paste and keep repeating the process until all of your fake tan has disappeared. 

Fix oily roots

If you want a cheaper alternative to dry shampoo, or you've simply run out, bi-carb is a saviour for oily roots. Sprinkle a small amount of the soda on greasy hair and move it through, covering all roots and shaking out any excess. Bi-carb also has deodorising properties, so it will absorb any odours in dirty hair.

Banish flaky scalp

Suffering from dandruff? Treat your scalp with a soothing bi-carb soak. Fill your sink with warm water and one tablespoon of bi-carb, and immerse your scalp in the solution three times a week until you notice an improvement. To maintain a hydrated scalp, continue the bi-carb hair soak once a month. Results will vary depending upon each case, but it's definitely worth a try!

Purifying hair mask

Do you use styling products like wax or gel in your hair regularly, or you find your shampoo leaving a greasy residue even after you've washed it? Treat your hair with a mask that will strip all the chemicals out. Make a paste using bi-carb and water. Use your discretion with measurements - how much you'll need will depend on your hair thickness and length. Apply to your hair and leave on for around 10 to 15 minutes, before rinsing thoroughly, and then shampooing and conditioning the hair as normal.

Minimise blackheads

Did you know bi-carb soda can assist with the appearance of blackheads? Make a paste using three tablespoons of the soda and one tablespoon of water. Spread it over the affected area (this paste works on your body and face) and let it work its magic for a few minutes. Rinse off with warm water, and you'll notice a clearer complexion.

Treat razor burn

For people with sensitive skin, razor burn can sometimes leave you with an uncomfortable stinging sensation after shaving. Apply a bi-carb and water solution to the affected area, allow to dry and then rinse off thoroughly with cold water. This soothing salve will help take the redness and burn out, as well as calming the area. 

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