Hi there! First off, happy new year to all of you! Let’s hope for 2021 to be much and much better than the rough year we left behind, filled with lots of happiness, love, laughter and perhaps the most important one of all, good health.
Let’s get straight to the point, because this post is a must-read for pretty much everyone who likes an occasional DIY face mask or natural remedies for skin issues.
By now we all know skincare is incredibly important and not to be underestimated. Young and old, men and women, almost everyone has started taking (better) care of their delicate skin; which creates the perfect opportunity for brands to develop their own skincare line. In a world where status and reputation matters more than ever, people are willing to spend crazy money on skincare that might not be as effective or healthy for your skin as it claims to be. Your skin is the one thing that will stay with you your entire life, so you really do want to treat it as delicately and carefully as a newborn baby.
Not everyone can afford or wants to spend lots of money on skincare products which is totally understandable, most of the time you’re paying for the brand anyways. This is why people start looking at other options: DIY skincare. Homemade face masks, lip balms, moisturizers, etc. It’s easy to believe that these actually work since you’re making it yourself, and you know exactly what you put in it. You’re most likely only using natural ingredients, so what’s the harm? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
There is quite a list of ingredients influencers claim can do wonders for your skin, but in reality they can do more harm than good. Take a look at the list below and the reasons why you should think twice before you apply them to your face.
Disclaimer: I am no dermatologist, skincare specialist, or esthetician. For serious skincare issues, doubts or worries, you definitely want to consult a professional or see a doctor.
1. Lemon (juice)
For many people, lemon juice is considered a holy grail for quickly drying out pimples or to lighten / brighten (acne) scars. It is believed that it works when you feel it burning, but in fact the exact opposite is happening. If you’re putting something, anything, on your skin and it starts burning right away, this means you applied it to an open wound (no matter how minor) or the product is so acidic it’s breaking through your skin barrier. Either way, the burn and tingling sensation you’re feeling do not mean it’s working, it means you’re permanently damaging your skin. Even when it doesn’t burn, lemon juice is a highly acidic liquid which harms the skin barriers and messes up its pH-level. This makes your skin even more sensitive to sun exposure, making you more prone to hyperpigmentation (chances are this is one of the reasons you wanted to put lemon juice on your face to begin with).
I hoped this helped you realize that there are so many side effects and consequences that outweigh the benefits of lemon juice, which will hopefully make you want to steer clear of putting lemon juice on your face. If, for some reason, you still want to apply lemon juice to (a part of) your face; consider watering it down with only 1/3 lemon juice. Want to read more about lemon juice and why you should not be putting it on your face? Check out this article from the True Skin Care Center.
Tip: Whether you have a damaged skin, are prone to hyperpigmentation or your skin is perfectly healthy: always wear your SPF! The lighter your skin tone or the more damaged or sensitive your skin (especially when you’re going through facial treatments such as chemical peels, lasering or microdermabrasion), the higher the SPF you should be putting on your face. Also keep in mind that SPF only works for 2-3 hours, make sure to re-apply, even in the winter or if you’re staying in all day! If you’re wearing makeup throughout the day, consider using a transparent SPF spray. Not sure which SPF spray will work for you? Take a look at this article from Health.com!
Toothpaste is often used as a DIY ingredient to dry out pimples or remove blackheads. If you’ve used this method before, you probably noticed your pimple turning red after you removed the toothpaste. This redness is caused by its strong ingredients, and these strong ingredients can lead to burns and infections. Yes, in some cases toothpaste manages to make pimples disappear overnight but most of the time, it only makes it worse. This is why you might want to look for safer options to treat your acne, preferably something that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. A well-known acne remedy is the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion which dries out the pimple, making it shrink faster (note: the drying lotion has to be applied multiple times and usually cannot miraculously make pimples disappear).
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda might be the most popular DIY ingredient for skincare right now. People are claiming it can dry out pimples, brighten the skin, lighten dark spots, smoothen skin texture, minimize pores, etc. Truthfully, I am not saying baking soda does not work for any of these issues because I’ve tried it in the past and it often worked great. But! Baking soda harms your skin’s pH-level and will most likely cause skin damage in the long term. When your skin’s pH-level is disturbed, it can cause breakouts which is exactly what you don’t want, right?
If, for some reason, you still want to apply baking soda to (a part of) your face; consider watering it down with only 1/3 baking soda.
Tip: A lot of the ingredients in this list can harm the skin because they disturb the skin’s pH-level, so what products are safe for your skin? These are often products developed by dermatologists, labeled non-comedogenic or labeled to be pH-neutral. If you want to be entirely sure, research the product’s ingredients and try to find out if any of the ingredients can affect the pH-level. Some types of products (such as exfoliators) are highly acidic and will therefore always disturb the skin’s pH-level, which is why it is often recommended to use another product before or afterwards to balance the pH-level. The popular science-based skincare brand The Ordinary is incredibly transparent about its ingredients and offers lots of information about their products’ pH-levels, it’s worth taking a look if you often use acid exfoliators, serums or chemical peels. Take a look at my review of The Ordinary’s most popular skincare products.
4. Coconut oil
Many people swear by oil-cleansing as it is believed that oils are more effective in removing waterproof makeup. Natural coconut oil does not contain very harmful or damaging ingredients, but you might still want to avoid it if you have an oily skin. Coconut oil takes time to get absorbed into the skin, and if you already have an oily skin the oils will clog your pores, eventually leading to breakouts.
Tip: When you have oily and/or acne-prone skin, it is tempting to start using harsh products filled with chemicals you might never have heard of, hoping to ‘fix your face’. But the thing is, the only thing that your skin will really benefit from is taking gentle care of it. I’m sure you heard of the expression “Less is More”, and that really is the case. You don’t need 3 cleansers, 4 serums, 2 exfoliators and a bunch of weird moisturizers. Pick skincare products you really need and make sure they’re mild and gentle for the skin.
5. Hair spray
Okay, so this one really shocked me, but apparently people are using hair spray as a setting spray for their makeup? Please, please don’t! Hair spray always contains alcohol (unless it is specifically labeled alcohol-free). The alcohol decreases the moisture level of your skin, leading to dry and dull skin, and long-term use of hair spray on your skin can lead to faster aging symptoms such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Tip: If you’re often wearing (lots of) makeup for long days, you should consider investing in a good setting spray to apply while and/or after applying your makeup. Believe me, it will be worth it. One of the best setting sprays right now, based on customer reviews? That would be Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting makeup setting spray.
6. Hot water
Showering with (nearly boiling) hot water just feels good, I’ll admit it, I love it. However, our skin? Not a fan. Hot water can severely burn our skin, and you might not even notice it right away. When you wash your face or get out of the shower and your skin is all red, that’s a sign that your water might have been too hot. Lower the temperature to lukewarm to make sure you and your skin feel comfortable and you’re not causing any harm.
7. Essential oils
Essential oils have grown more and more popular over the years, people are using it in baths, on hair, on the body, in (facial) steamers, on pillowcases and even directly on the skin. But the thing, is essential oils have the potential to severely damage and irritate the skin. It is always recommended to avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes, ears and mouth but I would strongly advise you to avoid putting essential oils on your skin at all. Most of the time, it’s not really doing anything for your skin except giving off an extremely strong smell (which can never be good for the skin). Keep your essential oils in your bath, and avoid putting them directly on the skin.
Mayonnaise is considered an effective ingredient in DIY face or hair masks. And while it works like a miracle for your hair (try adding eggs to your mayonnaise hair mask, a guaranteed success!), your skin is not going to like it. Mayonnaise is highly acidic, which disturbs the skin’s pH-level and can clog your pores, both of which can lead to breakouts. Some ingredients in mayonnaise, such as egg yolk and soya, can also lead to allergic reactions. Keep putting mayonnaise in your hair and definitely keep dipping your fries in it, as long as you keep it far away from your delicate skin!
9. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar is believed to dry out acne without leaving any scars, or even make old acne scars disappear. Technically, this is true. ACV contains acetic acid which could help with these issues.. But just like lemon juice, using pure ACV will only burn and irritate your skin. If you’d really like to use ACV, consider mixing it with water (1/2 water and 1/2 apple cider vinegar).
Tip: Make sure your apple cider vinegar isn’t too old. As it grows old, the water leaves the vinegar which makes it stronger and ends up doing more harm than good for your skin.
10. (Electric) Cleansing Brush
Two to three years ago, electric cleansing brushes were a huge hype. Brands encouraged their customers to use the brush every morning and every day for “optimal results”. Later scientific studies showed that daily use for electric cleansing brushes actually disturbed the skin barrier resulting in (often invisible) damage. According to dermatologists, cleansing brushes are not necessary at all. A mild face wash and your fingertops are often enough to clean your face. Everyday usage of a cleansing brush can also damage your pores and lead to irritation such as acne flares and other skin problems. Try using your cleansing brush every 2 or 3 days to avoid damaging your skin.
I know this post contained a lot of information, some of which you maybe already knew and some things might have been entirely new for you. Eitherway, use this information well to take even better care of your precious skin.
A last tip: there are a number of skincare brands that are either developed or backed by dermatologists and labeled non-comedogenic (meaning they don’t contain ingredients that are known for causing breakouts or allergic reactions). If you want to keep your skincare routine as simple and mild as possible (recommended!), consider the following brands that are available in both the US, Asia and Europe: Cerave, Cetaphil, Murad, Neutrogena & La Roche-Posay.
Take care of your skin and yourself & stay safe!