If you’re looking to save money and brighten your complexion, or if you’re just trying to use more “natural” products, you may turn to one of the many recipes for DIY skin care that you can find scattered throughout Pinterest, Instagram, and various blogs. Gathering natural, organic ingredients from your kitchen and garden seems far more reasonable than spending a pretty penny on a high end face mask full of ingredients you can’t even pronounce. But there’s a reason store bought skin care has a larger price tag.
Formulating skin care products that work well for various skin types takes a lot of time, research, testing, and reformulating to get the most nourishing, hydrating blend that won’t irritate your skin or worsen any existing problems. Blending together oatmeal, coconut oil, and honey, just can’t compare.
Some DIY skin care is harmless, and according to dermatologists, can even have some awesome benefits, but other ingredients… well you should just stick to eating them, and not rubbing them on your skin. Let’s break it down.
Skin care DIY ingredients to avoid
Lemon - Vitamin C is a great antioxidant for the skin, so why not go straight to the citrus source? Well, lemons are very acidic which can throw off pH and damage the skin barrier (more information on that here) which can result in acne, eczema flare ups, and other inflammation. On top of that, lemon juice makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight which can lead to sunburns, discoloration, or even blisters.
So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Not face masks.
Toothpaste and baking soda - There’s a long standing skin care myth that toothpaste is a DIY spot treatment because the baking soda dries up acne. You may bow down to your tube of toothpaste when your pimples start to dry up and shrink, but don’t get too excited and start replacing all your skin care with minty fresh tubes. Toothpaste and baking soda can irritate and inflame the skin, throw off pH levels, and dry out the skin.
Raw egg - The proteins found in egg whites are beneficial for skin's elasticity, but you’d never eat a raw egg so why would you put it on your face? While the myth that our skin absorbs 60% of what we put on it isn’t necessarily true, you can accidentally ingest eggs while applying them to your face, which can lead to a number of foodborne illnesses, namely salmonella.
Cinnamon - Remember a few years ago when everyone was choking on cinnamon when attempting the “cinnamon challenge,” and some people were even ending up hospitalized because cinnamon was getting into their lungs and causing burning and inflammation? Well cinnamon can cause severe burning and inflammation on your skin as well.
According to Healthline, cinnamon is one of the most common spice allergies, and even if you have no problems eating cinnamon sprinkled on your meals, your skin may be hypersensitive to it after topically applying a large amount of it.
Sugar, salt, coffee grounds, or crushed walnut scrubs - Using rough, abrasive ingredients to make an exfoliant will do a lot more than get rid of dead skin. It will most likely cause microtears, scabbing, and even scarring. Ouch! Save the sugar for cupcakes, leave the shells on the shore, and instead add a non-abrasive, gentle exfoliating scrub for sensitive skin to your routine.
Not all DIY skin care ingredients are bad
Yes, you may find ingredients like oats, tomatoes, and honey in your store bought skin care, but there’s also a lot of science and formulating that goes into the combination of those ingredients to stabilize them and make them actually work. Your homemade skin care also doesn’t contain any preservatives, so even if you leave it in the fridge between uses, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that will end up on your skin that you’re working so hard to clean.
If you really are itching to make your own skin care, ask a dermatologist for any recommendations on what you can concoct for your particular skin and concerns, and make sure to make single use masks so you aren’t stuck with leftovers that sit around, and build up bacteria over time.
Here’s a few dermatologist recommended ingredients that can be beneficial and are seemingly harmless:
- Green tea
- Plain, sugar-free yogurt
- Aloe vera
However, you’ll most likely find that most dermatologists advise against mixing up your own skin care products, and instead will point you in the direction of fragrance-free skin care that’s packed with ingredients that have proven benefits for skin. Just because you don’t recognize an ingredient as something you can find at a whole foods store, doesn’t mean it isn’t safe or beneficial for your skin, and there’s a more exact science to the ingredient concentrations and combinations that can’t be mimicked with teaspoons and cups.
So even though DIY is having a moment as we all spend more time at home. Try hopping on the baking your own sourdough or sewing your own clothes trends, and leave the skin care formulation to the experts.