Natural Beauty: DIY Skin Care You Should Avoid

July 31, 2014

Natural Beauty: DIY Skin Care Don'ts

As a natural beauty lover on a budget, Pinterest can be a great resource for creative DIY beauty tips and tricks. But as much as I love a homemade facial mask, there are some recipes floating around out there that are either ineffective, bad for the skin, or just downright dangerous. In this post I’ll list some of the internet-popular ingredients you should never use in your at-home beauty routines.

Beauty Don'ts: DIY Skincare You Should Avoid

Lemon juice: great as a marinade, not on your face

1. Baking Soda: Baking soda is great for making cookies, freshening laundry, or scrubbing your toilet, but it is not advisable to put it on your face. Here’s why: Your skin is protected by a natural barrier called the mantle, which is made up of sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and good bacteria. This barrier is slightly acidic, with a pH level of around 4.5-6.5. If you remember way back to chemistry 101, the pH scale ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral. Anything above 7 is considered alkaline, and anything below is acidic. Baking soda happens to be highly alkaline and when used on the face can dehydrate the skin and make it a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Using baking soda continuously has cumulative effects, so the longer you use it, the more you damage the skin.

2. Lemon/Citrus: Countless DIY recipes involve cutting a lemon in half and rubbing it all over the face to brighten skin and fade spots. This is a bad idea for the same reason as baking soda, but on the other end of the scale. Lemon and citrus juices are extremely acidic and you can’t tell how potent a lemon will be until you use it. Using straight lemon juice on your face puts you at  risk for irritation, sun sensitivity, hyperpigmentation, or even chemical burns. Ouch.

3. White Vinegar: Another favorite of the DIY crowd, white vinegar is a wonder product that can be used on almost everything. Except your face, that is! Many people tout vinegar as an effective over-the-counter facial toner but, like lemon juice, the average white vinegar is acidic with a pH of 2.4-3.4. At best you may suffer skin irritation, and at worse you could burn your skin leaving a scar. On the other hand, many swear by using diluted apple cider vinegar, which is less acidic (pH around 5). While safer to use, its effectiveness on the skin is debatable.

Beauty Don'ts: DIY Skin Care You Should Avoid

Lavender is calming for the mind, but use caution on the skin

4. Essential Oils: Essential oils are a great example of why not everything that is natural is good for you (poison ivy, anyone?). They can also be used safely in one way, but prove toxic in another. Some great examples include bergamot, thyme, clove, cinnamon bark and lavender essential oils. These may be great for aromatherapy, but can cause phototoxicity when used on the skin. If you want to use essential oils on the face, dilute it first with a carrier oil (like jojoba) and always do a patch test before use.

5. Toothpaste: Dabbing toothpaste on a pimple is an old school trick that resurfaces in teen magazines every so often. While it may help dry the blemish out, it can also lead to redness and peeling. Toothpaste is also full of irritants like baking soda, mint and SLS. Keep the toothpaste on your teeth, not your face!


Have you used any of these ingredients in DIY skincare? What’s your experience?

Also by Sarah: What Your Nails Say About Your Health

Heatproof Makeup Tips

How to Make DIY Almond Milk

Top 5 Natural Oils for Skin



Photo: Vook via Flickr; Troy Tolley via Flickr; kennysarmy via Flickr

Sarah is a freelance writer based out of Portland, Oregon. Her top three passions in life include her family, her husband, Geoff, and her pug, Rupert. She also enjoys spending her time volunteering, traveling, and experimenting with new recipes. Follow her on Pinterest.


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