9 DIY Skin Care Treatments That Do More Harm Than Good

Even though DIY lotions and potions seem like a healthy, natural way to go, experts say that not all of them work...

If you’re getting DIY beauty tips from Google, you might want to proceed with caution — all natural doesn’t equal “all good” when it comes to skin care. Remember: Just because you see it growing on a tree or on your dinner plate does not mean that it’s okay to put on your face.


1. Using witch hazel as an astringent.

Witch hazel, which comes from the bark and leaves of a tree, is a natural anti-inflammatory, and is commonly used as the main ingredient in DIY astringents. But what most people don’t know is that witch hazel is usually distilled by alcohol or immersed in it as a preservative and this can literally tear apart the skin’s hydrating layer, leaving it dry and flaky. Not to mention the fact that the natural fragrance in witch hazel is eugenol, a potent irritant.

2. Using lemon to lighten your skin.

No. More. Lemons. I repeat: No more lemons! For some reason, this citrus fruit is the darling of DIY beauty gurus, but the nightmare of most dermatologists. Touted as Mother Nature’s lightener, lemons have a pH of about 2, which can really mess up the skin’s natural pH of 4 – 5. Plus, they’re way too acidic and literally eat away at our protective barrier. Even worse: They make the skin more sensitive to the sun, which can lead to blistering or really bad discoloration that could last for months. Stick to using lemon in your tea, not on your face.

3. Applying mayonnaise as a face mask.

Mayo may be good for ham sandwiches, but it’s not so great for your skin. “A mayo mask is made mainly of oil and fat and can bring on a full face of acne, plugging pores, and encouraging skin bacteria to grow,” warns Dr. Rebecca Tung, dermatologist at Loyola University. On the other hand, it does hydrate hair, and is a legit remedy for dry ends, but on the face it is grease-o-rama, and the perfect primer for pimples.

4. Using eggs to tighten your skin.

It’s true that the proteins in egg whites do a good job of improving skin tone and elasticity. Spas around the world offer facial treatments with egg whites because not only are they gentle but in addition to tightening, they can increase your glow and minimize fine lines — but be careful when trying it on your own. Egg whites can contain salmonella, a bacteria that causes severe food poisoning. If you accidentally ingest it while applying it to your face, it can spell trouble for your stomach.

5. Covering up body odor with apple cider vinegar.

Many people are hesitant to use OTC deodorants because of the potential link between aluminum chloride and breast cancer. Although there is no definitive data linking the two, DIY deodorants have become increasingly more popular. And apple cider vinegar is commonly used as a base because it kills yeast and bacteria that lead to B.O. and it is great at absorbing/neutralizing stinky scents.

Although it is not so bad for the skin, the concern here is more practical. Vinegar is not that fragrant, and it isn’t easy to mask. Even adding your favorite essential oil may not be that helpful. Seriously, who wants a lavender salad smell as their signature scent? Yikes. And according to Dr. Tung, it’s also not so great at stopping sweat.

6. Scrubbing your face with cinnamon.

It may taste sweet on your buns, but it can wreak havoc on your face. We’re talking irritation, blisters, and in some cases, even burns. You might as well just use pepper — you’d get the same results.

7. Trying to heal your skin with hydrogen peroxide.

This is everybody’s go-to product to clean scrapes and cuts. And while it does a great job of cleaning things out initially, you should only use just the once. It’s actually toxic to skin, so if you keep applying it, your wound and the surrounding skin won’t heal.

8. Exfoliating with baking soda.

There are plenty a lot of household products that can double as an expensive, department store exfoliator. (For example, sugar mixed with a little water can get you glowing skin.) But despite the sheer number of DIY recipes suggesting it online, baking soda is not one of them. It has a basic pH much higher than where healthy skin should live. To avoid reactive, rashy skin, keep this orange box in the fridge and away from your face.

9. Applying toothpaste to shrink pimples.

Toothpaste is a cult classic when it comes to DIY zit treatments. But its main ingredients — peroxide and baking soda (see numbers 7 and 8!) — aren’t so great for your skin. And even though it brings down inflammation temporarily, it will eventually create irritation. Even worse, you run the risk of being left with marks and discoloration after the acne has faded

The Bottom Line:

You should never try a DIY treatment without doing your homework. Even if the ingredients seem harmless and natural, the wrong combination could scar you for life. It’s okay to try and fix, lift, fade, or tackle whatever your skin woe may be at home — as long as you get your recipes from a credible source, such as a dermatologist.


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