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The Baking Soda Beauty Routine

James Hardwick
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James Hardwick
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James Hardwick
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James Hardwick
James Hardwick
James Hardwick
James Hardwick
James Hardwick
James Hardwick
James Hardwick
James Hardwick
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We're not easily flummoxed by personal-hygiene habits, but when Liv Tyler told us in her Top Shelf that she bathes a few times a week using an entire box of epsom salts plus a bottle of hydrogen peroxide or a box of baking soda, well… let’s just say we were careful to have it fact-checked. It turns out she’s not the only working professional in Manhattan employing household products in the tub. One of our beautiful man friends, James Hardwick—whom we admire not only because it's nice to have him in our line of sight, but also because of his holistic approach to life—also DIYs pretty much everything in his beauty routine with the help of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. (And no, he doesn't smell.) Here, James explains his philosophy and reveals the formulas behind the madness:

Hey Into The Gloss,

My “beauty' routine consists of four products:

  1. Baking soda

  2. Witch-hazel extract

  3. Hydrogen peroxide

  4. Children’s toothpaste

That’s it. It costs about $35 every three months. It's been my thing for a couple years now, because I guess I got tired of paying $12 for some strange cleanser and $6 for a mouthwash that burned my tongue. I'm not the world's most DIY guy—but, on occasion, it makes sense (like sneaking kombucha into movie theaters; sometimes it's BYOK).

First, let’s talk about using baking soda as an exfoliant for your face and body. Whole Foods sells a little box for less than a buck. Places like Target and CVS sell boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, too, but I’m not sure if it’s as refined or as pure as the stuff you'll find at natural food stores. You can taste the difference if you brush your teeth with it—which I highly recommend (I'll come back to this). In the shower, I pour a pile of baking soda into my hands and scrub everything—my face, my hair, my body, and the actual shower— with it. It’s a little rough, but it feels good... And maybe I’ve just been lucky, but my skin is happier when I wash it with something simple like baking soda. It doesn't seem to dehydrate my skin or strip away healthy oils, and baking soda is pretty stress-free—it's no big deal if you accidentally swallow some, waste it (it’s so inexpensive), plus it’s environmentally safe! On top of that, baking soda is an odor neutralizer, and it’s good for cleaning produce (not something I do in the shower). See? Multi-purpose, simple, and cheap.

Follow that up with some witch hazel. Witch hazel is a shrub, the extract of which is loaded with tannins that hydrate and smooth the skin. I use this as a toner, and sometimes buy Thayer's pre-soaked pads. But you can also pick up a little bottle of witch hazel extract and apply it to your face with a washcloth or whatever. I do this like once every four days, or whenever I remember to. It’s probably what male models do, who knows.

Now, about about that dirty mouth of yours (just kidding, I'm sure it's nice)... Using baking soda on your teeth will make you feel like you’ve just left the dentist, and it’s especially good if you ever get dry mouth (for whatever reason). I inherited this utilitarian move from my dad, who grew up on a farm, and still maintains that kind of practicality and resourcefulness. Sometimes I like to add it to all-natural kiddie toothpaste. Kiddie toothpaste is sweet subtle compared to the obnoxiously strong, minty adult ones and we’re all just big kids anyway…

But we’re not done here. This is like the highest high of oral hygiene: you can make your own mouthwash with hydrogen peroxide and water–it works really well and foams up like a European dance party. Plus, it doesn’t burn like most brand-name mouthwashes, which dumb your taste buds for hours and ruin fresh-squeezed juice every time. There are a couple of easy steps to making it, but before I give you the details, I’m gonna save some lives via a public service announcement:

DO NOT buy cheap hydrogen peroxide for internal use. I used to do this, but I then I learned these ‘home use’ hydrogen peroxides are stabilized with heavy metals that can accumulate in your body and are all around no good. For lil’ cuts and scrapes and for cleaning sinks, the 'home use' stuff works well. But to make mouthwash, you should definitely use ‘food grade,’ which you can purchase at online health-food stores or at Elm Health on 14th Street and 7th Ave.

Food-grade hydrogen peroxide comes in a 35% solution that then has to be diluted (by you) to 3% for internal use. So one bottle, if stored in the fridge, will yield a lot of mouthwash.

Here's how you make it:

-Buy food grade 35% hydrogen peroxide, a 22oz bottle (be careful with this stuff, it’s super strong)

-Find a cool glass bottle and fill it nearly all the way up with water

-Add one ounce of the food grade 35% hydrogen peroxide for every eleven ounces of water

-Add a few drops of an essential oil, like peppermint, lavender, or sage (not all oils are edible, be sure to get the ones that are) or, alternatively, squeeze in some tasty kind of natural toothpaste, as these normally contain a bunch of essential oils already.

You will feel wonderful after, taste great, and some girl once told me it whitens your teeth.

This is a building-a-house-with-my-bare-hands kind of beauty, but it's less expensive and more satisfying. So give it a shot, save some money, and let the simplicity of it free your mind. Or tell your boyfriend to try it. Whatever you feel comfortable with. I just want you to feel comfortable.

—James Hardwick

James lives in NYC. Photos by Mackenzie Wagoner.

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