DIY Skin Treatment Reviews

DIY skincare is on the uptrend everywhere you look. Are they cheaper, better, safer, than store bought skincare products, and if so, which ones are effective and useful?

The DIY philosophy is opening up new paths even in skincare, thought by many to be one of the most commercial sectors that are dominated by large multi-national corporations. There is a plethora of easy to create skincare products and routines that come from common kitchen ingredients, and through the Internet, many of these have become extremely popular. While it's impossible to cover every regimen, we don't believe that all DIY treatments are all the same. We cover some of the most popular treatments, and evaluate them based on their costs, convenience, efficacy, and possible concerns.

Ice Cube Mask:

How and what: Wrap ice cubes in a paper towel or a cloth, and apply it to your face.

Claims: Shrinks pores, calms pimples, and reduces redness temporarily. Also soothing and calming on a hot summer day.

Verdict: A-
The effectiveness as a pimple solution is questionable, and very short-term if effective at all. That said, this is a very soothing way to calm down the skin during this heat wave.

Warning: Be careful not to freeze burn your skin by applying it directly on your skin. If you sleep, you may still get a burn through towels.

Vicks VapoRub for Fungal Nail Infection:

How and what: Apply Vicks VapoRub to the nail that has a fungal infection with a cotton swab.

Claims: Reduces the visible part of the nail fungus in some people.

Verdict: C
Some people have claimed that they have seen visible improvements, and the cost is low, which is positive. The main problems have to do with efficacy (these cannot reach deep under the nail where the fungi reside). Nail fungus is not a life-threatening condition, but nonetheless a serious infection that should be diagnosed by a doctor.

Warning: Nail fungus and how it affects people is variable. There are also many other conditions that resemble nail fungus, but are not.

Lemon Treatments for Acne Scarring:

How and what: Apply cold lemon slices on the scarred skin and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. Remember to rinse with cold water afterwards.

Claims: Antioxidants in lemon help renew skin and reduce acne scarring.

Verdict: C-
Citruses like lemons do contain abundant vitamin C, but it is very irritating to the skin, and also increases photosensitizing, amplifying the effects of UV light. The efficacy is questionable at best; lemon is probably best left for cooking.

Warning: Lemon can be irritating for the skin, and is not recommended for people with sensitive skin. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s not an irritant.

Brown Sugar Scrub:

How and what: Sugar + Moisturizer in shower. Equal mixture of brown sugar and olive oil (or coconut oil if you have it available).

Claims: Silky smooth skin. Exfoliation of the skin, mixed with moisturizers to smooth out superficial problems at the surface of the skin.

Verdict: B-
Low cost is definitely a plus. This is a good exfoliate for the body, but the skin on the face is thin and delicate, and this strong physical exfoliate may irritate it. Not recommended for people with dry or sensitive skin, but for those with normal skin, it can be a good body scrub.

Warning: Physical exfoliates like sugar scrubs can be irritating to the skin. Ensure that there is enough oil in the mixture, and use it once a week to start, and test the product and what your skin can tolerate.

Baking Soda Exfoliator:

How and what: Mix baking soda with cleanser and rub in your hands. Alternatively mix with water on a washcloth. Wash carefully after to ensure that all the baking soda is off the skin. Moisturize the skin after.

Claims: Inexpensive and effective exfoliate.

Verdict: C
Baking soda is strongly alkaline, and it can disrupt the skin’s acid mantle and skin barrier. It can cause the skin’s pH level to become more alkaline, creating an environment for acne and other bacteria to proliferate.

Warning: Baking soda is strongly alkaline at a pH level of 8.5. The pH level of healthy skin is generally at the level of 4.5 to 5.5--acidic. The acidity is necessary to inhibit bacterial growth.

As a general principle it’s important to distinguish between skincare and skin treatments. Treatments for skin conditions (or any other medical conditions) should be assessed by a medical professional. Efficacy and safety of untested products are a serious concern when treating medical conditions. Similarly important, medical conditions can often be misdiagnosed by patients.

Generally, we should stick to store bought products that have been tested more extensively. It’s also important to note that “natural” ingredients can be just as unfriendly to the skin as synthetic or “processed” ingredients can be. However, DIY skincare has its benefits. Sometimes the pantry can offer a quick and effective skincare solution without dishing out the dollars.