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How to Follow DIY Skincare Safely

DIY skincare recipes have graced the internet for what seems like all of eternity... but did you actually know some aspects of these at-home recipes can do more harm than good?

Today I want to dive into the world of DIY skincare, I'd like to start by saying that doing DIY skincare is precisely how I got myself into the skincare industry to begin with, however that was 10-12 years ago and I have spent an unbelievable amount of time learning my craft, learning how to correctly formulate with ingredients and spent hours and hours learning about different ingredients, how they are made and how they work on the skin. I'm not decrying DIY skincare completely, but I just want to share some of the lesser talked about issues when it comes to making your own skincare at home, and the problems it can cause.

Cutting right to the chase, there is so much wrong with some of the DIY skincare information out there. Some of the most horrifying recipes I've seen are those that include water in a "formula" that is intended to store for a number of days-weeks. One of the biggest concerns with homemade skincare products is that the recipe usually doesn't call for a preservative. There's often a concern around the use of preservatives in skincare, but using a carefully selected preservative when needed is ultimately much, much safer than creating products without one.

In an anhydrous product (a product that doesn't contain water, or come into contact with water), not using a preservative can sometimes be okay, depending on the formula, as the ingredients used tend to have longer shelf life and are more stable. As soon as you add water to a formula, or introduce water to the final product (say using a homemade body scrub in the shower), you have an instant breeding ground for bacteria. This doesn't only apply to water, this also applies to ingredients that contain water such as cucumber and aloe vera (juice). These recipes could be face masks, eye gels, or creams and lotions.

Another issue with homemade skincare is that the ingredients used are often highly-perishable, which means they (and your concoction) could go off quicker than you'd expect. This can also introduce bacteria to your skin, risks irritation and inflammation as well as breakouts.

The safest & simplest way you can follow these recipes is to reduce the ingredients to the amount you would need for one use. Doing this means you're not leaving a batch of fresh ingredients blended together for any length of time, and you're probably reducing waste in the meantime as you're guaranteed to use a one-time batch worth when you make it as you need it.

Not only is there concern for bacterial growth in these recipes, but the ingredients some of them call for can also be incredibly questionable at times, here are 3 popular DIY skincare ingredients that I need you to PROMISE ME you will not touch! :

  • Lemon (or Lime) Juice - Okay, lemon or lime juice directly applied to the skin is just an absolute DO NOT. These fruit juices are extremely acidic, and although they contain plenty Vitamin C, applying them directly to your skin can cause more harm than good. These juices contain photosensitive compounds that can cause the skin to absorb more UV rays, make the skin more sensitive to sun and can also worsen the effects that sun burn can cause. Using these ingredients can also result in uneven patches of lightened skin.

  • Bicarbonate Soda - Common in scrub recipes, balms and pastes for acne, bicarbonate of soda isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. Yes, it's an excellent absorbent (common in natural deodorants) but this can be incredibly irritating to the skin when used in scrubs and face recipes and can also result in breakouts. As it is so absorbent, it can also dry the skin of it's natural oils which can lead to overproduction of sebum as well as dry, flakey patches of skin. Bicarbonate of soda also has a very high pH, and with the skin's natural pH being between 4.5 and 5.5, an ingredient this high an alkaline can actually cause a lot of damage.

  • " X drops" of essential oils - Essential oils are plant extracts made by steaming different parts of a plant (the flower, the bark, the leaves or fruit), this process captures the compounds that create fragrance. Essential oils are much more concentrated than the oils in the plant itself, which can mean they can be risky if used in too high a concentration. A recipe that calls for a certain amount of drops of essential oils should be avoided, for the simple reason that you cannot measure what "a drop" is. This can lead to using too much of an essential oil which could potentially lead to skin irritation, inflammation and in severe cases, burning.

In all honesty, I'd stick to making DIY's that don't require water (or water based ingredients) and create your lotions and potions as & when you need them. It's safer for you, safer for your skin and will generally benefit you more in the long run.

I hope you've enjoyed this dive into another side of homemade skincare, in the past I've shared a few DIY recipes you can (safely) follow, without thinking twice about it! Do let me know if you'd like me to share more and any specific recipes you may like to see!

Until next week's blog,

Rebecca x

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