What You Need to Know About Homemade Skincare
If you find joy in putting mashed avocado on your face, fill your boots, but when it comes to whipping up your own vitamin c serum made from a concoction of items in your fruit bowl, we firmly advise not to. This is a fast-track, do not pass go, do not collect £200 pass to a compromised skin barrier and sensitised skin.
While we would always recommend buying your skincare from a reputable brand, we do understand that skincare isn't one-size-fits-all and there are cultural traditions that have been used for years. So, if you're currently using something that works for you, carry on. However, to mitigate any potential irritation to your skin here’s what you need to know before getting creative in the kitchen:
- Skincare products go through rigorous rounds of testing before they can be sold to, or used on, the public. Formulations will also undergo a safety assessment completed by an external assessor before it can go to market. The three main stages of testing are: challenge, stability, and compatibility. Not only will the formula be tested to ensure if remains stable over its shelf life, but also if it’s compatible with its packaging. This thorough testing cannot be recreated when making products at home, therefore you are going to be at risk of sensitising your skin.
- Never save your homemade skincare for future use as these mixtures don’t contain preservatives, which are used to help the formula stay stable and safe to use. Hello, mould!
- Avoid using citrus fruits especially lemon. While psychologically we may associate them with a clean smell and feeling, lemon is very irritating to the skin and can actually lead to chemical burns when that skin is exposed to the sun. Our skin’s natural pH is between 4.5 -5.5, whereas the pH of lemon juice is between 2 and 3, making it incredibly acidic. It can also cause the skin to become photosensitive, which can lead to phytophotodermatitis* — an inflammatory skin reaction triggered by sun exposure, resulting in blisters, rashes and hyperpigmentation.
- Speaking of dermatitis, contact dermatitis can occur when using too many skincare products. Add untested, homemade products to the mix and your chances of a flare-up increases.
- Be mindful that some foods can stain the skin— particularly when used as a mask or left on for a considerable amount of time. Blueberries, raspberries and turmeric, we’re looking at you.
- Often used as an emergency at-home ointment for breakouts, toothpaste and baking soda can both irritate the skin, worsening the spot and delaying the healing process. Instead, use a spot treatment containing ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, rather than making one yourself.
- Don’t use vinegar as a substitute for toner. Similar to lemon juice, vinegar can be irritating to the skin and has the potential to cause a superficial chemical burn when used regularly. Keep this for your fish and chips instead.
- We recommend you steer clear of anything that claims to bleach your face. End of story.
If you are seeking skincare advice, always speak to a dermatologist or a qualified aesthetician.
* phytophotodermatitis is a form of dermatitis that is caused by a skin reaction that occurs after natural photosensitising chemicals, found within plant sap and fruits, are applied (whether intentional or not) to the skin followed by exposure to sunlight.