Mixing up your own skincare recipes with things you usually find in your kitchen can have many benefits such as better affordability, chemical-free, natural, customization, and higher sustainability. However, it comes with many risks, from safety to allergies, contamination, and inconsistent results.
In the olden days, natural remedies from the garden were exclusive treatments for skin ailments and well-being. Plants materials such as aloe vera and chamomile were used to soothe skin and reduce the soreness of pimples and scars.
Over the years, with the global movement to shun synthetics-based formulas in favor of natural ingredients, the do-it-yourself (DIY) culture rebounded. However, looking deeper into the science behind skincare and its components, one may realize that not all DIY are created equal. For example, some ingredients may be harmful to the skin.
While DIY skincare recipes may seem natural and affordable for your skin, they can be harmful in many ways. So as much as you may love the ingredients in those skincare mixtures, a science-based approach to skincare that prioritizes safety and efficacy is always the best choice.
In this article, you will learn why DIY skincare recipes are not recommended and why thinking twice before mixing up your recipes is crucial. Read on to discover why it may not be as safe as you think.
Potential for Allergic Reactions and Sensitivities
The potential for allergic reactions and sensitivities is a significant concern. The first example that comes to mind is using lemon directly on the skin for its vitamin C and to get rid of sunspots.
While lemons are great when turned into lemonade, as a skincare ingredient, they are too acidic and harsh on the skin. As a result, they are likely to cause skin irritations and rashes. Additionally, they increase the photosensitivity of the skin, making your face prone to severe acne breakouts and inflammations.
Notable dangerous ingredients include using baking soda, coffee granules, and salt as a face scrub, toothpaste for treating pimples, mayonnaise as a face mask, and coconut oil as a face cream.
In another example, using a product with essential oil is safe only if the percentage is 1% or lower. So, using large quantities of essential oils on the skin can cause more harm than good.
Lack of Preservation and Stability
Proper preservation and stability are critical for skincare product formulas. However, most DIY recipes do not include suitable preservatives to keep the product safe and effective.
It makes them more prone to bacterial growth and contamination, leading to severe skin infections and acne. In fact, without preservatives, you may be applying a hazardous mixture to your skin, which may cause damage that even a dermatologist cannot fix.
It is a common myth that natural products' antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E can act as preserving agents instead of chemical counterparts. However, this is not true.
Antioxidants prevent the oxidation of products, which can affect their effectiveness, but they do not fight against bacteria, fungi, yeast, or mold that can grow in your homemade skincare mixtures. Only preservatives can do this. Additionally, some raw ingredients commonly used in DIY recipes, such as eggs, can contain harmful bacteria like salmonella, another factor to consider.
An example of a homemade skincare recipe that lacks preservation and stability is homemade aloe vera gel. Aloe vera is known in the cosmetic industry for soothing and moisturizing. However, homemade aloe vera gel is highly susceptible to bacterial growth and contamination, as it is 99.5% water. As a result, it can lead to skin infections, irritations, and other problems.
For healthy skin, many macronutrients, and micronutrients from the products we use work together to create a barrier from potentially damaging environmental factors. DIY recipes usually provide a different level of nourishment and protection than regulated products.
Homemade sunscreen is an excellent example for concerning DIY mixtures. The hashtag #DIYsunscreen has over 1,000 posts on Instagram. Among these are many step-by-step instructions, posters, and suggestions to switch store-bought sunscreens for homemade alternatives. Some bloggers even assign an SPF value to the mixture, though this measurement cannot be made in the kitchen.
A study published in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2020 reported that researchers tested 15 step-by-step recipes found online. Three had zero solar protection, while the others had an SPF of only 1.5 to 6.
By comparison, the recommended SPF factor is 30 or higher. Other essential features are broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB rays) and waterproofing. They provide poor UVB (sunburn) protection and no UVA (aging rays) protection. Consequently, homemade sunscreens are not only ineffective, but they are also a sure recipe for sunburns.
According to another study, getting five sunburns before age 20 increases your risk of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, by 80%. So stay safe and use effective sunscreen and skincare products.
Lack of Expertise and Regulatory Knowledge
Ingredient selection in the cosmetics industry is highly regulated, with rules for the safety of formulations. Some ingredients may be classified as toxic. Therefore, the database of substances needs to be approved and updated frequently. At the same time, there are regulations regarding substances approved only in specified circumstances, as well as coloring agents, preservatives, and UV filters.
There are many cases where the lack of expertise of the person creating the homemade mixture has led to more substantial skincare problems. For instance, hydrogen peroxide is an ingredient commonly found in skincare recipes that can cause many issues when used in DIY recipes.
Hydrogen peroxide cleans scrapes and cuts. It does a formidable job on the initial cleaning of the spot, but after the second use, it becomes toxic and prevents the skin from healing. The most dangerous situation is when hydrogen peroxide is part of homemade recipes for treating sunburns, as it creates strong skin sensitivities.
Alternatives to homemade recipes
There are alternatives to avoid skincare products on the market, while still using only natural ingredients from your home.
Instead of raw baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, or salt as a facial exfoliant, you can use sponges or cloths made of soft, natural fibers.
If you want all-natural masks, look for them in a naturist shop or on the organic products shelves of drug stores.
To get firmer and brighter skin, see your dermatologist and choose products to treat your skin concerns.
Instead of using honey for acne or other ingredients from your cupboard, look for spot treatments with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Regarding sunscreen, unfortunately, there is no replacement. But wearing a hat outside can further decrease the risk of sunburn.
In a Nutshell
If you consider saving money and using only natural ingredients for your skincare, prioritize safety and efficacy.
There are clean, organic, vegan, water-free, and cruelty-free products on the market that are better formulated for your face and skin. Their ingredients are scientifically proven to work on delicate face skin layers, and they have passed several research tests and trials.
Unfortunately, DIY skincare recipes do not go through rigorous testing runs. Many products found in cupboards are not skin-friendly products.
The most homemade skincare prep may be mixing mask powders with water. Beyond this, you may risk developing skin irritations, inflammations, and acne.
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Cosmina Manea is a wellness blogger focusing on beauty, lifestyle, and healthy eating. She brings a unique perspective to the wellness world with a background in geography and economy and experience in urban consulting, teaching, CSR, PR, and project management. Though she lives in Romania, she collaborates with international beauty brands and has traveled to more than 15 countries (living for more than a month in three of them). She is passionate about volunteering and finding purpose in all her actions. She hopes to inspire and motivate others to live their healthiest and happiest lives through her blogs. Keep up to date with Cosmina on her blog.