DIY beauty is fun and cheap, so I get it’s appeal but it’s important to be cautious. We often think that because something is natural it’s better, when natural can mean more concentrated and potent or just not good or effective.
Your skin should maintain a pH of around 4 to 5 in order to keep your acid mantle working effectively. The acid mantle is the protective barrier that keeps bacteria from making a home out of your face. If this balance gets messed with your skin will end up irritated or acne prone. If a product or ingredient is too acidic it can leave your skin vulnerable to irritation and chemical burns, if it’s too basic, bacteria will want to chill out on your skin and give you those dreaded zits. These 3 popular DIY ingredients are common in face masks and while they may leave the skin glowing at first, they will ultimately do more damage than good.
The first time I put lemon on my face I got a chemical burn and a lovely scab on my face. Lemon is supposed to be good for exfoliating dead skin but it is far too harsh. Even when diluted it will ultimately disrupt the skin’s pH balance. Lemons typically have a pH of 2 which is highly acidic. Lemons are so acidic (slightly less than batteries) they will leave your face vulnerable to sun damage. Not only does this mean you can get a chemical burn when the sunlight hits your face, it can make sun spots or acne marks worse. If you plan on doing any chemical peel at all, be sure to wear sunblock afterwards as most peels will leave your skin sensitive to sunlight.
The grainy texture of baking soda is too rough for the face as it is but because it has a high pH of around 8.3 to 9 (9 being the highest) it is far too basic. The tight squeaky clean feeling is not because your skin is clean, it’s because it’s trying not to deplete its natural barrier. Baking soda will upset the natural balance of your skin making it susceptible to the worst kind of irritation: acne-causing bacteria.
Sugar is even more harsh than baking soda. There’s a reason why all those microbeads are being banned—they’re not good for the skin (or the environment). The polymorphous sugar crystals can actually scratch and leave micro-tears on the surface of the skin. This can even leave scarring and broken capillaries. What it will certainly do is leave the skin irritated, weakened and most likely inflamed.