While we certainly have unprecedented access to information, the general public knows very little about skincare.
Just a quick browse through skincare-twitter will reveal plenty of misinformation, fear-mongering, and marketing lies, and forays into “natural skincare” believing that the more natural the ingredient, the safer it is to put on the skin.
Amongst the many other natural skincare trends that drive me crazy as an esthetician, these days are DIY face masks and platforms like Pinterest are flooding us with “recipes”.
This brings me to the natural skincare craze that has swept us right into the kitchen. Now, instead of trusting licensed cosmetic chemists to formulate products for our skin, we have decided that plain foodstuff will just do a better job at it.
That is my TLDR answer, to understand better where I’m coming from, be sure to continue reading…
What Are Homemade Face Masks?
If you go on Pinterest, you will certainly run into hundreds upon hundreds of pins all leading to articles that promote these natural skincare remedies all freshly made in someone’s kitchen.
Homemade face mask mixtures typically include ingredients from your standard kitchen cabinet.
These often include cooking oils like olive oil, coconut oil, chia seed oil, spices, food additives, fruits, vegetables, salad dressings, and other stuff that we typically put on our food and in our stomachs.
Some homemade face masks go a tad bit further and can include a few drops of essential oils, all in good hope to rejuvenate and save our skin from pesky skin concerns we want gone.
Needless to say, all this sounds a little ridiculous, however, more and more people are, concerningly, reaching out for a “healthy” mixture whisked in their kitchen rather than an adequately formulated skincare product in a lab.
Are DIY Face Masks Safe?
But it is actually very easy to see the appeal of these seemingly harmless homemade masks and other skincare “products”.
First off, it is incredibly logical to think “if it’s good enough to be eaten and has many beneficial vitamins and nutrients, then it must be good enough to be applied on the skin”.
See? It makes a lot of sense, right?
Secondly, here comes the price. I mean, it’s only logical not to want to go online and spend $50, $60, $100, on a face mask that will temporarily make your skin glow when you can make yourself a quick and easy face mask at home that will basically cost you $5.
All this makes a lot of sense and I completely get it. I wasn’t immune to these up until some time ago and you would often find me in my kitchen making masks instead of using these same ingredients to cook me a nice and delicious meal nearly every day.
So it is really not that farfetched to think “Hey, this might actually work out much better for me”. However, there is an important element you are overlooking.
Wanna know what that is? Here it comes:
Your face is not your stomach.
Phew! That was really hard to swallow. But, let’s elaborate.
It’s actually really absurd to think that DIY face masks will do any good for your skin simply because the ingredients (the foods) you are using are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients.
Your skin and your stomach and digestive tract work in very different ways. The skin is our largest organ and is meant to keep things out. By this, I mean that our skin protects our internal organs from external aggressors and potential dangers.
Therefore, the skin does an excellent job of keeping things OUT.
Your stomach absorbs necessary nutrients through food and it then delivers them to your skin via the blood. Which only means that your skin gets its needed nutrients and oxygen from your blood.
Because, again, your skin is there to keep things out and it does a damn good job at it.
The skin’s ability to protect itself from foreign or external aggressors is largely affected by its pH level. The pH of the skin refers to how acidic or alkaline it is.
On a scale of 1-14, 1 is the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline, while 7 is considered a neutral reading. While you may think that neutral is the best for healthy skin, just because neutral sounds good, you are wrong.
Your skin has a thin, protective layer on its surface, referred to as the acid mantle. This acid mantle is made up of sebum (oil produced by our sebaceous glands), which mixes with lactic and amino acids from sweat.
Together they create the skin’s pH, which stands somewhere between 4.6 – 6.2 and this means that the pH of healthy skin is slightly acidic.
Many factors can interfere with the delicate balance of the skin’s acid mantle. Everything that comes in contact with our skin such as products, air, water, sun, pollution, smoking can contribute to the disruption of the acid mantle.
What does this mean?
This means that everything, absolutely everything that you put on your skin lower or higher in pH can contribute to the disruption of the acid mantle and therefore cause various skin conditions.
On the other hand, the pH of your stomach is somewhere between 1.5 – 3.5, which clearly explains that ingredients from the kitchen that typically have low pH are intended to be in your stomach, not on your face.
Which Homemade Face Mask Is Best For Acne?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a miracle homemade mask that is good for acne.
But that doesn’t stop naturopaths, Pinterest moms, and other “all-natural” beauty gurus from recommending some pretty dangerous solutions to tackle an inflammatory condition such as acne.
I am sure you’ve heard of apple cider vinegar toner or an apple cider vinegar and clay mask to be the perfect solution for pimples and even full-blown cystic acne.
This ingredient is widely promoted on the Internet as a natural chemical exfoliant that will remove the build-up of dead skin cells, bacteria, pollution, dirt, and *coughs* several skin layers.
Right off the bat, I have to tell you that this is probably the worst thing you can do to your skin especially when your skin is vulnerable and inflamed.
It all goes back to the above-mentioned pH.
The most important thing you should know about apple cider vinegar before even thinking of bringing it anywhere near your face is that it is used as salad seasoning and has a pH of 2.78 while your skin stands between 4.6 – 6.2.
This is incredibly low and extremely dangerous to be anywhere near your skin at any given situation. Still, you should specifically stay away from it if you suffer from inflammation and acne.
Furthermore, there is not enough evidence or any relevant research that proves apple cider vinegar can be safely used on the skin as an exfoliator.
So, until there is a piece of sustainable evidence that confirms it is safe to be used as an acne treatment on the skin, apple cider vinegar should never be considered a treatment of choice.
Or any other DIY mask for inflammatory conditions such as acne.
What Should You Use Instead?
I think we should all finally accept that food simply doesn’t belong on the face and should stop trying to feed our face with something that will give zero results and possibly make things worse.
Instead of that, we should all do our little research regarding which ingredients in skincare products are good for us and our skin loves them, and which ones we should stay away from.
It’s really not that complicated and I have it all nicely explained in my other article about ingredients to avoid in skincare.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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