A large number of the “all natural, chemical-free” DIY recipes and home remedies published online are actually potentially very hazardous to the skin. Many of these recipes — no matter how beautifully shot they are — are telling people to combine ingredients that are often inappropriate for more than one skin type, and sometimes are wrong for every skin type!
While these bloggers and pinners might have some knowledge and good intentions, they clearly don’t have adequate information about how the skin works, about different grades and properties of ingredients, or about the compounded effect these ingredients have after repeated use.
Like so many of you, I love surfing through natural beauty and wellness blogs and Pinterest boards for DIY beauty inspiration.
It used to be that I would get swept away by a delicious photo and start whipping up the recipe I thought would make my skin just as delicious.
DIY Skin Care Put Me in the Hospital
There was nothing delicious about the red splotches and itchy scales (which actually sent me to the hospital one time), or increased breakouts on my face that some of these “all natural, chemical-free” DIY skincare caused me.
Education is key
Since then, I’ve spent years educating myself about skincare, ingredients, and going through tons of trial and error, I know which natural ingredients and combinations are safe — and maybe even more importantly — which aren’t.
That’s still not enough information to be armed with because some ingredients are appropriate for certain skin types, but can be disastrous for others.
I firmly believe that you don’t have to be a scientist to make great products; but you can’t just assume that because something’s natural or edible, that it’s safe, beneficial or effective for the skin.
In fact, some foods and other natural ingredients can cause a variety of adverse reactions on the skin ranging from simple irritation, itchiness, and redness to premature aging and scar-inducing chemical burns.
DIY Skincare Recipe Fail Explained
Let’s get specific and take a look at a very common DIY remedy for acne that gets tons of Pinterest love to understand why a simple recipe can be so risky for skin. It says to combine:
- 1 crushed aspirin
- 1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
The theory behind this recipe is that the apple cider vinegar contains alpha hydroxy acids (malic acid) and aspirin contains salicylic acid (a common acid used in some acne products) and is anti-inflammatory.
On paper (or screen, rather) this would seem like a logical combination.
Apple cider vinegar contains high amounts of acetic acid, and smaller amounts of lactic, glycolic, and citric acids.
Aspirin content might vary depending on the brand—but its acid content isn’t the same as salicylic acid, though both are derived from willow bark. It can contain acetylsalicylic acid or 2-acetyloxybenzoic acid—both of which can be unstable and unpredictable once crushed and mixed.
Quick note—I’m not a fan of using acids on the skin in general, but if you DO use them, they should be cosmetic or pharmaceutical grade, properly formulated, stabilized ingredients.
While raw apple cider vinegar produces an alkaline ash in the body when ingested, this is far from the case with topical application, and repeated use can cause burns.
Combine that with with the unpredictable, unstable acids in aspirin and you get an even less stable and predictable concoction with a higher concentration of acids.
While certain skin types might not experience a reaction after an initial use, all skin types will experience a reaction ranging from redness and tenderness all the way to a chemical burn, after repeated use.
Bacteria, Fungus and Yeast Breeding Ground
Keep in mind also that any DIY recipes involving food ingredients are also perishable and become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria, fungi, and yeasts—none of which you’d want to put onto your body or into your body. Concoctions containing water-based or food ingredients must be kept in the refrigerator and used within 3 days.
The truth is
It’s very difficult to find quality handmade skincare recipes online. There are plenty for anhydrous (not containing water) balms, salves, butters, and serums—but its rare to find them for more advanced emulsions or ones made with professional quality ingredients that would still be considered natural.
DIY Skin Care Remedies Done Right
For more shelf stable formulations, I like Kayla Fioravanti’s books, DIY Kitchen Chemistry and The Art & Science of Aromatherapy, but some of the recipes do contain chemical ingredients you might not want to use.
The BeautyCraft app is also excellent.
Go for it!
Don’t let these concerns deter you from making your own skincare products. Once you stop blindly trusting what you read online and learn the right ways to go about creating your own skincare, you’ll be able to come up with formulas that are perfect for you — and your skin will love them so much that it won’t want any other products again!
Have you had any similar experiences with DIY skincare gone wrong? Please share in the comments below!