When I think of DIY skincare, I often find myself sitting on the fence. While a part of me knows the benefits of a good haldi and honey mask, the other part of me also cringes every time someone applies lemon juice to their face. I am torn. Before I step on any grandmother’s toes, let me clarify—natural ingredients do host a plethora of beauty benefits for your hair and skin. They are medicinal. But, somewhere between ‘age-old traditional remedies’ and ‘lockdown desperation’, we found ourselves swimming against a current of concoctions that weren’t just bizarre, but were also quite unsafe.
From using unstable ingredients to layering and pairing the wrong ingredients together—the DIY skincare world became a recipe for disaster. Does this mean you have to swear off natural beauty altogether? No—you just have to find a safer way to do it. Dr Batul Patel, medical director, The Bombay Skin Clinic tells us how!
“Skin being the largest organ of the body absorbs the contents applied on the surface. Always be mindful of selecting safe yet effective ingredients. With the advent of social media and a plethora of influencer videos on skin care DIY tips, it can get overwhelming and at times confusing. Start with understanding your skin type, get verified information from medical experts, and always do a trial of the ingredients on your skin before using it on your face,” Dr Patel advises.
Expert-approved DIY ingredients
#1 – French clay
Aka green clay is a great base for a face mask, especially if you’ve got oily skin. It contains a whole lot of nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, and manganese. It helps deep cleanse your pores, removes impurities, exfoliates dead skin cells, treats blemishes, and even soothes any minor irritations.
#2 – Cocoa powder
According to Dr Patel cocoa powder works as a great mask for dry skin. Rich in antioxidants, the cocoa powder helps fight free radical damage, fights the signs of ageing and even brightens the skin.
#3 – Matcha tea powder
If you’re looking to brighten dull skin, then Dr Patel says that matcha tea powder is a great ingredient to do so. Also rich in antioxidants and methylxanthines, it helps fight free radical damage, boosts microcirculation, and leaves your skin with a glow.
#5 – Hydrosols
The aromatic water produced by steam when distilling plants and flowers are known as hydrosols. They are easy to make at home and according to Dr Patel contain less than 1 per cent of essential oil which makes them safe to use. “Suggested hydrosols include lavender, rose, chamomile, rosemary, and cucumber. They can be used in masks and also as toners, makeup removers, and as cold compression for puffy and tired eyes,” she adds.
#6 – Fruits, herbs, & vegetables
Another dermatologist-approved ingredient to add to your DIY list would have to be fresh fruits, herbs or vegetables. “Mostly fruits with high antioxidant properties like orange, plum, guava, amla, and papaya are safe to use,” says Dr Patel. You can either smash them and apply them, or add them to your face mask. Herbs like fresh thyme, neem, parsley, and rosemary are actually rather soothing and healing for the skin. But, this comes with a disclaimer. Dr Patel suggests, “Fresh herbs should be used within a week—once they develop dark spots or start drying up, it’s best to avoid using it on the face.”
#7 – Carrier oils vs essential oils
Essential oils have proven to be a rather popular DIY ingredient, however, Dr Patel warns that it needs to be applied with caution. “Essential oils should never be applied undiluted to the skin. For sensitive skin, the rations should be much more compared to normal skin. In any case, essential oils need to be used with a lot of caution—or it’s best to be avoided as a DIY at home.”