While sheltering-at-home, many of us suddenly have had the time (and need) to finally start exploring DIY skin care. For example: Can toothpaste, in a pinch, actually help tamp down an acne flare-up, as so many beauty sites claim? More on that in a moment.
First, whether you’re trying to avoid going to the store or be a little more conservative with your spending, know that adapting stuff around the house for skin care is generally a good idea. But there is some risk involved. The wrong ingredient can exacerbate an issue or inflame the skin.
Here are some common DIY skin-care ingredients that can cause more harm to your skin than good.
There are plenty of lemon advocates on Pinterest who believe it’s the ultimate at-home skin brightener. In reality, the acid in lemons can burn the skin, leaving it raw and discolored. And if it’s used on sun-exposed skin, lemon can even cause a blistering reaction and hyperpigmentation.
Aside from staining, particularly with berries, most other fruits should be relatively safe—unless you happen to have an allergy to one of them. For that reason, patch test your DIY mask before using it all over.
Yes, eggs feature in some mass-produced beauty products, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to apply raw egg directly to your skin. It can give you a bacterial infection called salmonella. And though salmonella skin infections are rare, they can be pretty devastating.
Do-it-yourselfers love vinegar, whether they’re using it to clean their bathrooms or as a toner. Neither is a good idea for the same reason: The high acidity can cause a range of harmful effects. As a toner, vinegar may lead to an irritation, an exaggerated sunburn, a superficial chemical burn (from repetitive application), and depigmentation as a result of the initial application. Not to mention the off-putting smell, which is long-lasting.
Toothpaste and baking soda
Back to our original question. As an acne treatment, toothpaste may actually work, due to its antimicrobial triclosan. But you’re better off avoiding it and baking soda, another common DIY hack for acne, because both can irritate and inflame the skin.
Generally, spices should be handled with caution. Certain spices can be irritating to some, so make a point to patch test first.
Also, don’t treat DIY skin care products the same as you do store-bought ones, even if they prove beneficial. For example, don’t leave them on for extensive periods and don’t save them to use later. Without any of the preservatives or stabilizers found in the store-bought products, they could cause a very different reaction after the initial use.
If your skin ever does become inflamed, or a condition worsens from skin-care ingredients, consult a board-certified dermatologist.