Sodium Hydroxide in Skin Care: A Review
What is sodium hydroxide?
This chemical compound, which is also called lye and sometimes by its chemical formula, NaOH, maintains or holds skincare products’ pH levels. When it’s in soap, it gets combined with vegetable oil or animal fat. This process is known as saponification. Soap is basically a blend of a distilled solution of lye, herbal additives, and base oils.
When soap is made, lye is diluted heavily with water, then added to oils so that a thick mixture is created. Then the mixture goes into a mold where it stays and hardens for 24 hours. It then cures for 4-6 weeks. During this curing process, it loses water weight. This is when the lye or sodium hydroxide dissolves. Lye’s needed for making natural soap. However, it’s not found in its raw form when everything’s said and done: it turns into soap!
Benefits of sodium hydroxide in skin care
Now that we know what it’s used for, let’s look deeper and see what is sodium hydroxide in skin care. There are a few benefits of using sodium hydroxide in skin care. Below are three of the main benefits of using it in skincare products.
- Balances & Maintains the pH Levels of the Skin and the Product – When the skin is pH-balanced, the skin is happy. Because sodium hydroxide will adjust the formula’s pH balance, it also will make the formula kinder to the skin.
- Helps to Maximize the Efficacy of the Product – Skincare products that are used topically work best when the pH range is 4 to 6.5. along with stabilizing the product’s pH level and the pH level of the skin, it also will make these types of products work a lot better.
- Saponifies the oils in soap – Sodium hydroxide is one of the ingredients that helps the oils in cleansers and soaps to lather.
What are the risks of sodium hydroxide in skin care?
Although it’s agreed by experts that it is generally safe to use lye or sodium hydroxide in skincare and beauty products, there are a few risks that some people might experience side effects when using it. Below are some of the side effects or risks of using a product with sodium hydroxide in it, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- Itchy skin, rash, or hives
- Increased sensitivity in the skin, dryness, and flaking
- Irritation and inflammation.
One of the best ways to know whether or not you will have a reaction is to do what’s called the patch test.
This is done by putting a small product amount on the skin, close to where you’re planning to use the product. If you are going to use it on your facial area, put it along your jawline or behind the ear. If it’s a soap or lotion, your forearm or wrist is a good place to put it.
Wait a minimum of 24 hours for checking for any signs of reaction or irritation. If you don’t notice any discoloration, itching, or another type of unwanted reaction, chances are that the product’s safe for you to use.
One thing that it’s essential to note – you should never use sodium hydroxide in its purest form on the skin, no matter what concentration or amount. It can cause severe damage to your skin and chemical burns.
Sodium Hydroxide is corrosive and can hurt you!
What is the best way to treat a sodium hydroxide burn?
If you receive a burn from sodium hydroxide, you want to remove any contaminated clothing and anything that is on the skin. Then irrigate the exposed skin using water for a minimum of 15 minutes. This time may even need to be longer, based on the duration, amount, and concentration of the chemical exposure. If pain or irritation persists, it’s possible that you may need to be examined by a doctor. Due to a child’s ratio of their body’s surface area to their body weight, they will be a lot more vulnerable when it comes to toxicants that affect the skin. DO NOT BRING NEAR CHILDREN – NEVER HANDLE CHEMICALS NEAR CHILDREN. ONLY WEAR PROPER PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT.
Sodium hydroxide’s used for balancing pH, and it is found in many skincare and beauty items, such as soaps, makeup, cleansers, lotions, and creams.
In the chemical’s pure form, it’s very harmful to handle without proper equipment. But the amount of sodium hydroxide that everyday products contain is very small. Therefore, it is safe to formulate and use products containing NaOH, as long as you are cautious.
For those who have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to check out the ingredients on the label before you purchase a new product and if your skin is very sensitive, it’s best to steer clear of those products that contain sodium hydroxide.
Facts & Data
Fact 1: Saponifies oils in the soap-making process: According to Rossi, sodium hydroxide helps oils to lather in soaps and cleansers.
Fact 2: Works well with: Since sodium hydroxide is used mainly as a pH balancer, it’s a fairly common ingredient in a handful of formulas, according to Rossi.