Kalos [KĀYˈ-los]: The highest form of beauty and handsomeness with purity of heart and life; moral, noble
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The lure of familiar ingredients—plus the fun of making your own skin potions—has led many to try incorporating food and other items from the cupboard into their beauty routines. This begs the question: Is DIY skincare safe? Or is it something you’ll ultimately regret?

The answer is a bit complicated. There are a lot of bad DIY skincare options, a handful of good ones, and some rules of thumb that can keep you from making a huge mistake. We spoke to the  skincare experts here at Kalos Medical Spa to learn more about DIY beauty trends and how you can keep your skin healthy and beautiful.

Preservatives get a bad rap when it comes to what we put into our bodies, but they play an incredibly important role in keeping topical products fresh, safe, and effective. 

Is DIY skincare safe?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a solid yes or no answer to this question. A quick Google search yields thousands of DIY skincare recipes from well-known celebrities, influencers, and beauty-focused websites—and they range from harmless yet ineffective to truly troublesome. 

As a medical spa, we believe deeply in the power of clinically tested, medical-grade products with a proven track record of safety and efficacy. That said, we understand the temptation to reach for solutions in your kitchen pantry and also recognize that some ingredients can soothe the skin if thoughtfully used. We simply urge patients to err on the side of caution when approaching DIY beauty; branching out might sound fun but it’s not worth harming your appearance. 

Here are some important things to keep in mind before trying any homemade skincare products.

DIY skincare goes bad more quickly than you think

Preservatives sometimes get a bad rap, but they play an incredibly important role in keeping topical products fresh, safe, and effective. Many of the ingredients used in homemade skin products are highly perishable—and they can turn more rapidly than you may assume. This is especially true when it comes to common ingredients like mayonnaise, eggs, or any dairy products. To avoid introducing bacteria to your skin, or risking irritation and inflammation, it’s safest to make a fresh batch for each use. 

You may uncover skin allergies

Medical-grade skincare products typically avoid common allergens and are safe for a variety of skin types. In contrast, the ingredients you find at home have not been clinically vetted for topical use, which may cause you to end up with a rash or breakout. 

If you do use something on your skin that causes a reaction, you may need medications or skin treatments to undo the damage and could end up spending more than the cost of buying a professional-grade product in the first place. 

Homemade skincare has no regulation or oversight

Even seemingly trustworthy online sources can make poor recommendations—and what works for one person may not work for you. After just a few minutes of looking over popular homemade face scrub recipes, we saw a number of potentially harmful and abrasive ingredients being used. Ultimately, you are only going by the word of the creator or sharer of the recipe, who most likely did not clinically test their concoction. 

Two reasonably safe options that are widely used in DIY skincare are apple cider vinegar and coconut oil, both of which are also key ingredients in a lot of over-the-counter products.

Safe vs. harmful DIY skincare ingredients

Many at-home skincare recipes rely on the same group of ingredients used in different ways. If you’re still committed to trying to make your own products, here are a few things to keep in mind.

At-home products that are known to be safe

Two reasonably safe options that are widely used in DIY skincare are apple cider vinegar and coconut oil, both of which are also key ingredients in a number of over-the-counter products. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to have some antibacterial properties, while coconut oil can be useful for quelling inflammation. There is also some evidence that pumpkin used in a face mask can help protect the skin from UV rays, largely due to the high concentration of beta-carotene. Olive oil is also something that’s generally safe and non-irritating. 

That being said, it’s still best to exercise caution in case you have an unknown allergy. Also be sure the product you’re using is of high quality: many olive oils, for instance, are adulterated with lower quality oils. 

Risky DIY skincare ingredients

There are a few common abrasives used in scrubs that can be very problematic for the sensitive skin of your face. Because it is a natural exfoliant, sugar is a star player in most DIY recipes. Unfortunately, using too much sugar or applying with a heavy hand can lead to micro-tears in your skin, leaving you open to infection. While oats are slightly less abrasive, the same still applies; unlike exfoliants used in most readily available face scrubs, oats will not dissolve and broken edges can wreak havoc on your skin. 

Loved for its brightening power, lemon also pops up in may DIY products. While it certainly can clean and brighten your skin, we urge you to avoid it—the acids in lemon can be incredibly harsh, potentially leading to skin burns. 

Eggs appear in recipes for hair masks and oil-control face masks, but remember that when you’re putting raw egg on your skin you run the risk of ingesting salmonella.

We have only covered a few common DIY skincare ingredients here; there are hundreds of ideas out there which could wreak havoc on your skin so it’s safest to view any recipe with suspicion.

Skip the trial & error and opt for proven skincare 

We get it. These days, we’re constantly inundated by skincare brands and products claiming to be your best option—and it’s normal to wish for simple solutions. While opting to DIY your own products can be an attractive prospect, it leaves too much to chance.

The best way to find the right products for your skin type is to work with a skincare professional who will evaluate your skin, listen to your concerns, and provide personalized product recommendations that fit your specific needs. These products will also be proven to provide visible results, making them safer and more cost-effective than trial-and-error DIY skincare.

Here at Kalos Medical Spa, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Emily Kirby and our team of skincare pros have years of experience helping people find their perfect cocktail of products—and we would love to welcome you to our family of satisfied patients. Contact us today to schedule a private consult and skin evaluation.