November 28, 2023


Define Beauty Yourself

5 ingredients you should avoid in DIY skincare recipes, according to a dermatologist

The appeal of a good home remedy or DIY skincare is justifiable. An inexpensive spot treatment that can heal your skin without feeding it all those ‘chemicals’ that the beauty industry is trying to sell you—what’s not to love? But when used without caution on the basis of hearsay, certain harsh ingredients can strip your skin dry or aggravate the skin concerns that were supposed to be treated. Here’s what noted dermatologist Dr Jamuna Pai wants you to know before whipping up your next skincare mask at home.

For starters, not all natural ingredients are created equal. “There is a larger misconception that kitchen ingredients work better than over-the-counter products for the skin because they are more ‘natural’. However, it is important to understand your skin type before trying at-home ingredients. A certain family skincare recipe may have worked for other generations, but may not deliver the same results in today’s lifestyle. It is imperative to consult a skincare expert to assess your skin type because evidence of at-home remedies can often be anecdotal,” she cautions. 

If you are looking to treat your skin to some TLC over the weekend but want to avoid eroding your skin barrier further, these are the absolute no-nos that Dr. Pai wants you to stay vigilant about: 


If used without caution, this citric fruit can do more harm than benefit for your skin. With its abundance of vitamin C, it has antioxidative properties that help brighten the skin. However, frequent and excessive use of lemon juice can cause skin irritation, redness and even blistering and dryness as it is highly acidic. It is also important to avoid excessive sun exposure after lemon juice application to avoid sunburn.

Coconut and olive oil 

Oils should never have a place in your DIY skincare regimen, and with good reason. While dry and dehydrated skin can benefit from using oils sparingly to retain moisture, those with acne-prone and oily skin will find that the usage of additional oils will only increase sebum production, leading to severe acne breakouts. 

Baking soda 

The skin has a protective oil layer called the acid mantle. Baking soda, with its high alkaline properties, can disrupt this acid mantle by altering the pH and stripping the skin off its natural oils and moisture. This can further irritate the skin by causing blisters, dryness, redness and inflammation.


Apple cider vinegar is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. However, excessive usage of vinegar can actually alter the skin’s pH levels and over-exfoliate the skin, causing skin irritation and dryness. Those with a history of contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis must avoid vinegar entirely in their skincare routine.


Most evidence that toothpaste can heal acne is purely anecdotal in nature. While it has been peddled over the years as a spot treatment, the triclosan in toothpaste can cause irritation and further aggravate acne, leaving it feeling sore for days afterwards.

Dr. Pai believes that while at-home skincare remedies have a host of benefits to offer, caution must be adopted in its usage. “As a rule of thumb, always conduct a patch test before trying any new ingredient on the skin. A certain ingredient that might be great for skin, can actually be harmful too if used excessively. You will also want to avoid leaving any ingredient overnight—a rough span of 15-20 minutes is sufficient to give benefits. Excessive sun exposure should also be avoided to reduce the risk of sunburns and making the skin more sensitive,” she concludes. 

Also read:

6 DIY beauty ingredients that do more harm than good

 An expert-approved guide to safely using DIY skincare ingredients

Mira Kapoor swears by this DIY ingredient for flawless skin