GUEST BLOG: The Dangers of DIY Beauty Hacks

We’ve all been there. One minute, you’re browsing Pinterest for dinner recipes, the next minute you’ve found a dozen DIY beauty tricks for clear, glowing skin. The best part is, you know you have all of the ingredients in your pantry!

Stop right there.

Natural homemade facial masks .

I understand wanting to be thrifty, and I understand those horrible beauty emergencies that make you afraid to leave the house, but it’s important to realize that those beauty “quick fixes” are actually causing long-term damage to your skin.

These ladies mean well. They think they’re helping you achieve beautiful skin. The reality, though, is most of these DIY tricks for better skin are, at best, actually rooted in misunderstood science, and at worst, totally out of touch with how skin actually functions. I’m going to cover a few of the worst offenders here to help you understand the science behind why these beauty tips are actually harmful to your skin.

Citrus Juice Brightening

Lemon juice, lime juice and orange juice are popular DIY hacks for lightening spots and brightening your skin. While there are plenty of safe citric acid exfoliants available, the fruit juices from your fridge aren’t on the list.

The Science

Our skin is naturally slightly acidic, usually in the pH range of 4.5 – 6. The acidity comes from a thin film the skin creates called the acid mantle. This acid mantle protects the good bacteria living on your skin and prevents bad bacteria and contaminants from getting cozy. If your skin’s pH ever deviates too far from that healthy range one way or another, it compromises your acid mantle and leaves your skin vulnerable to all kinds of nasty bacteria.

So what happens when your skin’s pH is too low? It gets red and irritated, and even the blandest products sting or burn. If that doesn’t sound awful enough, citrus juices also contain compounds that make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight, which just means more sun damage. Isn’t that what we were trying to fix in the first place? So, with this knowledge in mind, let’s look at the pH of these juices:

Raw orange juice has a pH of 3.3.

Raw lemon juice has a pH of 2.

Raw lime juice has a pH of 1.8 – yikes!

To give you an idea of how harmful straight citrus juices are, battery acid has a pH of 1. Stomach acid has a pH of 1.5-2. See why this is a bad idea?

If you’re looking for healthy ways to brighten skin, look for skincare with niacinamide and arbutin in the top ingredients. They are clinically proven to safely lighten and brighten skin without compromising your acid mantle.

Spice Masks

Turmeric masks, cinnamon masks, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar masks, and ginger “self-warming” masks are popular DIY beauty tricks. These masks are touted as luxurious, pore-opening, clarifying and smoothing. Unfortunately, none of this is rooted in science.

The Science

First and foremost, spices are spices for a reason. They irritate our tastebuds and give our mouths that hurts-so-good tingly feeling when we ingest them. Since they work by irritation, this means putting them on our faces will be just as irritating.

Often, there will be a study that says eating this food or that spice has amazing benefits, and this leads to a mistaken belief that these benefits can be obtained through topical use as well. More times than not, this is not only wrong, but potentially harmful.

Spices like cinnamon and ginger can actually aggravate existing skin conditions or create new ones when used in DIY masks at home. The worst part is that your skin won’t even be able to absorb anything beneficial! Vinegar is even more harmful, because it kills all of the good bacteria I mentioned before. Plus, it smells terrible. No thanks.

If you want a luxurious spa facial at home, try a sheet mask. They’re cheap, pre-packaged and pack a powerful hydration punch that makes your skin look and feel like you had an expensive spa treatment.

Dairy Facials

Doesn’t the prospect of soaking your face in milk and egg whites from your fridge sound delightful? No? Well good, because those home remedy milk facials are an expensive and largely ineffective for women who want glowing skin.

Milk treatments are said to improve the texture of oily skin as well as gently exfoliate and balance pH. Egg whites are supposed to help tighten pores and dry up blemishes. Sounds great right? If only that was how it worked!

The Science

News flash: The milk from your refrigerator is not the same quality of milk product found in cosmetics.

While milk does contain alpha hydroxy acids like lactic acid, the concentration isn’t high enough to get any benefits from smearing it on your face. As far as its cleansing and pH properties are concerned, I certainly wouldn’t trust it to clean my skin. Rancid milk face is not attractive.

Egg white facials purportedly work because of the vitamin A present in eggs. Vitamin A is a popular anti-aging compound commonly referred to as retinol. While vitamin A is a clinically effective anti-oxidant that stimulates collagen production, trying to get cosmetic-quality results from raw egg white is dangerous and potentially irritating to skin. Salmonella, anyone?

There are tons of safe, inexpensive OTC retinol and AHA products on the market. If you’re looking for younger, healthier skin, try a combination of those products instead. They’re specifically formulated with effective levels of the active ingredients as well as buffer ingredients to keep your skin safe.

I’m all about saving time and money, and I love DIY projects. However, I don’t love bad science, and I don’t want to see people making these costly skincare mistakes when there are inexpensive and proven alternatives available. So the next time you’re browsing Pinterest, stick to the recipes you can eat and skip the recipes for your face.

Author Bio: Nicole Hopkins is a health and beauty writer as well as an Asian beauty enthusiast who loves empowering women through the elimination of bad science. You can read more about her work at her website.

Note:  All views expressed in this blog post are the personal opinions of the guest blogger. doesn’t favor any particular skincare brand or take advertising from any of them. Our scientific algorithm is entirely unbiased and based on your skin profile.

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