Caustic soda in cosmetics

Is Sodium Hydroxide Safe in Beauty Products?


Caustic soda in cosmetics

Sodium hydroxide is an ingredient found in many household products, from beauty and personal care, to cleaning products and even industrial solvents. When it comes to your beauty regime, it’s usually present in most moisturizers, makeup, shaving foam, shampoo, hair dye, hair removal, sun tanning products, and more.

But despite its universal usage, it may surprise you to learn that sodium hydroxide — commonly known as caustic soda — can actually be an irritant! Thanks to its ability to dissolve grease, fats, and oils, it’s not uncommon to find this ingredient in soaps, detergents, and even drain cleaners too!

Fortunately, with the understanding of some simple chemistry, it is easy enough to make sense of the role sodium hydroxide plays in skincare and our favorite beauty products, and whether you should be embracing the idea of sodium hydroxide on your skin…

Sodium Hydroxide in Skincare: What Exactly Is Sodium Hydroxide?

 Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) is what is known as a soluble inorganic compound, made up of sodium (Na+), and hydroxide (OH-). What’s interesting is that the amount of sodium hydroxide you put into a product is not necessarily the same amount present in the result… This is because sodium hydroxide, when dissolved in water, breaks up or ‘dissociates’. This results in separate sodium ions and hydroxide ions.

Sodium ions are relatively nonthreatening. These are the same as those found in table salt, in seawater, and even in your own sweat! So, when it comes to sodium ions in skincare, there’s not too much to worry about!

Caustic soda in cosmetics

Is Sodium Hydroxide Safe in Beauty Products?

While the sodium ions are harmless, the hydroxide ions play a much more active role. Ultimately, this is the reason sodium hydroxide is added to so many products, due to its ability to balance pH levels.

In water-based products, high levels of hydrogen result in high levels of acidity. The addition of hydroxide can turn excess hydrogen into a neutral solution, making it safe to use. This is its main function in your beauty products!

When adding sodium hydroxide, most of the hydroxide ions will neutralize and turn to water, should no longer pose a threat to your skin. Meanwhile, the sodium ions simply float away!

Sodium Hydroxide Safety: Yes, It’s Safe!


Caustic soda in cosmetics: If you see Sodium Hydroxide on the ingredients list of your favorite cleanser or skincare product, there’s no need to be alarmed! It’s FDA approved, and usually present in skincare to maintain a safe pH level in the product itself.

However, if you have sensitive skin, it may be worth avoiding sodium hydroxide in your skincare products wherever possible.

What About Sodium Hydroxide in Hair Products?

Caustic soda in cosmetics

There is almost always no need for concern when it comes to sodium hydroxide in haircare products.

While NaOH is damaging to hair when used at high concentrations and at high pH, when used at low levels at neutral pH, it doesn’t cause any problem at all. This reaction neutralizes the hydroxide so it’s not harmful to hair.

Furthermore, what product has sodium hydroxide in it? Two of the more common household products containing sodium hydroxide are drain cleaners and oven cleaners. When most pipes are clogged it is with a combination of fats and grease.

what is sodium hydroxide in shampoo?

Sodium hydroxide, with the formula NaOH, is usually used in products as a pH adjuster. It’s also used in soap-making to turn fats and oils into soap. You can find sodium hydroxide in its pure form in the cleaning aisle since it’s also really handy for clearing up clogged drains.

How does sodium hydroxide remove hair?

Sodium hydroxide is an ingredient used in many depilatory creams. A depilatory cream works by dissolving the hair, allowing it to be washed or wiped off the skin. The sodium hydroxide in these creams works by increasing the pH level to speed up the reaction that causes the hair to dissolve.

Caustic soda in cosmetics

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