Do you know how safe DIY beauty products really are? The ever-popular trend among beauty addicts to make their own skincare concoctions shows no sign of slowing down. Social media and the internet are brimming with recipes for all kinds of remedies mostly made with ingredients found in the kitchen. Afterall, a homemade product is going to be way better, healthier and cheaper than anything you can buy, right? Wrong! The fact is this misconception among DIY beauty product fans not only could damage their skin but also leave it vulnerable to a whole host of nasties. Read on to find out why…
The tradition of creating homemade skincare has long been part of many cultures around the world and I’m sure that almost all of us have taken to the kitchen at some point in our lives to whip up some sort of remedy (be it out of desperation, because we enjoy the experience or in order to lead a healthier and more eco-friendly life). However, ‘homemade’ is not always synonymous with ‘safe’ and there are many every day foods that can cause allergies and problems once applied to your skin.
Commonly used as a whitener but its pH so acidic that it can damage the skin’s protective barrier. Moreover, skin treated with lemon that is then exposed to the sun can suffer an allergic reaction.
Known and used for its tensing effect on the skin, however don’t forget that salmonella bacteria can hide in this part of the egg. If contaminated egg white comes into contact with mucous membranes or is accidentally ingested, the consequences can be dire.
Many people use cinnamon as a natural scrub due to its vasodilator properties, but please avoid the skin around your eyes as it can cause severe irritation to this delicate area.
A zit busting classic but did you know that it also alters the pH of the skin and causes dryness and itching?
Normally added to homemade masks as an exfoliant. Despite its widespread use, baking soda is extremely alkaline, which can in turn cause certain types of bacteria to proliferate leading to skin infections.
All sugar containing mixtures cause microscopic scratches on the skin, damaging its protective barrier.
A very common addition to beauty recipes, however beware, it’s the sweetest scene for bacteria to proliferate rapidly.
Avoid it at all costs if you have mixed, oily or acne prone skin because it can be too heavy on your skin. That said, there are other oils that are beneficial for this skin type, such as argan or sunflower. Both these oils work very well if you want to curb that dreaded shiny look or if you have a tendency to break out.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly used fragrancies in homemade concoctions, but did you know that it can also cause hyperpigmentation due to its high coumarin content? Not good!
In recent years, online stores selling small quantities of cosmetic ingredients have become more common, making it easier for us to experiment from the comfort of our own homes. However, caution is needed when using these preparations as most of the plant alcohol sold, although it’s natural in origin, always dries out the skin.
The ultimate microbe breeding ground! The more water our recipe contains, the more likely it is that it’s contaminated.
LAB IS BEST
It’s impossible to compare the hygienic conditions in a laboratory with those of our kitchen. All instruments must be completely and correctly disinfected to reduce the risk of contamination and although you can use gloves and clean everything with alcohol beforehand, it’s often not enough. But no matter how careful you are, you must always use a preservative or an antioxidant to keep your recipe stable for any length of time, especially if it contains water or is an oil-based formula, and here is where the problem lies. Calculating the correct preservative or antioxidant dose is extremely complicated. Falling short or using too much causes the opposite effect, ruining your lovingly prepared beauty product just the same.
MY TIPS FOR HOMEMADE REMEDIES
On a more positive note, DIY beauty cosmetics can be enjoyed if you take the necessary precautions, just remember to only prepare enough to use in the moment and use it as quickly possible. A poorly prepared or preserved home remedy is not only ineffective, it can also be harmful. The absence of preservatives can cause adverse reactions ranging from a mild irritation to a full-blown skin infection, or even more free radical action (Ugh! More skin aging!). Also, DIY products using vegetable oils or butter can go rancid in a short space of time, giving rise to compounds called peroxide radicals, which pose a danger to skin health.
A MASK THAT COMBINES THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
A valid, safe and effective alternative to homemade face masks is undoubtedly our London Mask, since I choose to hand mix it myself here in the lab (something quite unheard of in the beauty industry). This allows me to place the ingredients that provide the greatest benefits on the surface of the emulsion, making sure they are in direct contact with the skin when the mask is applied. A lengthy yet essential process as it allows me to ensure that the skin gets the full benefits of the natural clays used, yet without any of the not so nice side effects (such as dryness, dehydration, stretching and cracking). I absolutely love this mask because it is a fantastic example of how you can work with natural ingredients to produce something totally extraordinary, full of natural magic.