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Avoid These 9 Skincare DIY 'Tricks'

There are many interesting do-it-yourself guides to be found on the internet these days. Many online beauty gurus will tell you that the secret to gorgeous skin is as simple as mixing up a few ingredients that you already have in your home.

While some of these are useful hacks to caring for your skin or hair, others are downright terrible. Some simply don’t work, but others can actually make skin conditions worse.

It can be hard to know what to believe when it comes to some tips you come across, so we’ve compiled a list of the top nine tricks to avoid when trying out your next DIY skincare recipe.

Homemade Sunscreen

This may be the most dangerous of all the DIY skincare hacks floating around today. Sunscreen is a vital part of a good skincare routine and is especially necessary when spending time outdoors.

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can result in sunburn, premature aging, and could ultimately lead to skin cancer. In fact, every sunburn you get increases your likelihood of developing deadly skin cancer.

So when it comes to protecting yourself, you want to be sure that the sun protection you’re using works and for how long. This is basically impossible to know if you DIY your sunscreen at home.

The sunscreen you buy at the store has been rigorously tested for its ability to protect against UVA and UVB radiation, and for how sweat and water-resistant it is. Manufacturers of sunscreen also clearly label their products with the SPF, or sun protection factor that you can expect from using the sunscreen.

A homemade recipe for sunscreen has not been reviewed by experts, and all you have is your best guess as to how well it works—that is if it works at all.

Not to mention, a DIY sunscreen concoction may not be shelf-stable, and could potentially degrade faster than a regular bottle of sunblock.

That’s why dermatologists urge you to forgo this risky DIY and instead find a professionally developed SPF of 30 or higher. If you are worried about the ingredients contained in most chemical sunscreens, you could always opt for one of many mineral sunscreens on the market. These will protect your skin with natural ingredients like zinc but have still been proven effective.

Elmer’s Glue Face Masks

With the current popularity of peel-off face masks, you may or may not be surprised that glue is now being used as an ingredient for DIY skincare.

While you may imagine that glue could help grab onto blackheads and clogged pores and pull them out, this idea is just plain dangerous for your skin. Even if it does manage to grip dead skin or other debris, an Elmer’s glue face mask may just tear away a layer of healthy skin with it!

Glue of any variety is simply not designed or meant for use on the skin at all. It can cause irritation and possible breakouts if left on the skin for any amount of time. While you may find it satisfying to peel away a thin layer of glue, the rash or clogged pores it could leave behind are just not worth it.

Using Lemon Juice to Fade Dark Spots

There’s a long-believed skincare myth that lemons can be used to lighten dark spots and freckles.

While it may be possible that lemon juice could lighten skin, it’s certainly not worth the potential trade-off.

Lemons are extremely acidic, and not the good kind of acid that helps your skin glow. With a pH level of around 2, they are not a friendly ingredient for human skin, which naturally should have a pH level of about 4 or 5. Applying this raw acid onto your skin can lead to a couple of different problems.

Squeezing lemon juice

The acid in lemon juice will tear right through your skin’s natural moisture barrier. This means that your skin will not be able to maintain hydration and will not be able to protect itself.

On top of this, lemon juice will make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. This, in turn, makes it counterproductive to use a lightening agent. If you are using lemon juice on your skin and then expose your skin to the sun, you may end up with additional pigmentation and even a blistering burn.

If you want to lighten any dark areas on your skin, it’s better to use a trusted ingredient such as hydroquinone. This ingredient is available in low concentrations over the counter, and although it can cause some irritation, will work to reduce hyperpigmentation when used correctly.

Cinnamon Spot Treatments

For those who have acne, you may have been tempted to try a cinnamon based mask or pimple treatment. Cinnamon is thought to help acne because it has antibacterial properties. So it may initially make sense that a natural ingredient that you already have in your kitchen cupboard could help you fight acne-causing bacteria.

But unfortunately, it is not that simple. First of all, the cinnamon in your spice cabinet may not be as potent as would be necessary to have an effect on acne-causing bacteria. And with no way to know if the cinnamon you’re getting contains enough antibacterial power to make a difference, it is probably not worth the effort to whip up your own concoction when a store-bought acne product is sure to be more effective.

And worse than that, you may experience a terrible reaction when applying cinnamon to your skin. Cinnamon contains a chemical compound called cinnamaldehyde. This compound can cause anything from tingling to stinging, to burning and swelling of the skin.

This is because cinnamaldehyde is a known skin irritant, and the more of it is in contact with your skin, the worse the potential results. Even slight tingling is a sign that it is causing inflammation in your skin. It could even lead to the development of contact dermatitis, causing your body to react in negative ways. You could end up making existing acne worse, and healthy skin could become red, itchy, and swollen.

Baking Soda Exfoliator

Baking soda is something that most of us have lying around the house, so it’s tempting to be lured by homemade skin scrubs or masks that include this as an ingredient.

But this powder is actually one of the worst things you can put on your skin. Just like lemon, it has a pH level that is all wrong for the skin. But unlike lemon, it’s pH level is very high, meaning it is too alkaline for skin.

Using baking soda on your skin will destroy your skin’s normal pH level and cause the skin barrier to be severely compromised. With your protective skin barrier in jeopardy, you are less able to fend off the bacteria that your skin encounters every day.

While you may not see the effects immediately if you use baking soda, over time continuous use of baking soda will produce dry and weakened skin.

Cooking Oil Moisturizer

Skin oils are all the rage right now, and many botanical oils are known to have great benefits for your skin. But should you rely on the same oil you use to grease your frying pan to keep your skin moisturized?

The main problem is that many cooking oils have a tendency to clog pores, especially for oily skin types and those with acne. This includes the ever-popular olive and coconut oils. Using these instead of a light lotion designed for your skin type can lead to breakouts.

Now if you have dry or normal skin, you may not have an issue with clogged pores. However, using one of these oils won’t do your skin any favors in the long run. This is because these oils aren’t really as moisturizing as they may seem.

It turns out that these oils don’t go very deep into your skin, and so may not be nourishing enough. When it comes to protecting your skin barrier and keeping moisture locked in, you need a well-balanced moisturizer that offers skin more than just surface hydration.

Using Petroleum Jelly To Grow Your Lashes

Everyone wants thicker, longer eyelashes naturally. But is coating them in thick petroleum jelly every night the answer?

The short answer: no.

Petroleum jelly will do nothing to actually help lashes grow faster or thicker. At best they will help them keep moisture locked in, preventing them from breaking as easily with repeated curling and mascara use.

But there’s a major downside to putting petroleum jelly so close to your eyes, or really anywhere on your face, and that’s clogged pores.

Petroleum jelly can be very pore-clogging. Your face has a lot of pores, and this includes the area around your eyes. Trapping thick petroleum jelly in the little spaces between your lashes is a recipe for a breakout. And the area around your eyes is especially vulnerable to developing milia.

Milia are small white cysts that appear when keratin gets trapped under the skin’s surface. They also tend to form in little groups. They are harmless but can be unsightly. And while they can be treated, they can take many months to disappear. And they are especially hard to treat when in the delicate eye area.

Sugar Scrubs

You may have heard that sugar scrubs are great for your lips, and luckily this is actually true! But using sugar to exfoliate beyond that isn’t always a great choice.

Small jar of homemade sugar scrub

Sugar can actually be quite rough on the sensitive skin of your face. What you can’t see is that sugar is made up of very tiny, jagged granules. These sharp little crystal pieces are enough to cause little tears on the delicate skin of your face. These tears will cause redness and visible inflammation on your skin.

If you are looking for a physical exfoliant for the skin of your face, you want the smoothest and gentlest option available. Many natural ingredients are unfortunately quite rough, but there are options. One little known option is rice bran powder. You can look for store-bought scrubs formulated with this gentle ingredient, or try chemical exfoliants instead.

Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

A common kitchen ingredient that claims to do way more than serve as a base for salad dressings, apple cider vinegar is the star of many DIY beauty and health elixirs. This vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice, so it contains similar properties to other fruit-derived acids in the alpha hydroxy acid family.

But despite a few similarities to alpha-hydroxy acids, it’s not quite the same thing. You may have heard some beauty gurus rave about how apple cider vinegar helped them get rid of acne and gave them a smooth and clear complexion. And while it can help exfoliate dead skin cells and help to unclog pores, it also is a risky ingredient to try for most skin types.

Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, and if used often can even cause chemical burns. While those with oily skin may be comfortable using it as an occasional treatment, dry and sensitive types should steer clear. Apple cider vinegar will lower the pH level of your skin, and this is too much for many skin types and conditions. Irritation can develop easily if you are prone to redness or problems such as eczema.

Those who do want to try apple cider vinegar need to know that they should not be using it daily or leaving it on the skin. Rinse your skin after applying it and moisturize generously. And don’t use undiluted apple cider vinegar either. Always combine with at least a 1 to 1 ratio of water and vinegar.

With all the work and risk involved in using pure apple cider vinegar on your skin, you might as well opt for a gentle store-bought option. It will be less likely to sting your skin, and you won’t have to worry about smelling like a salad!