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As I’ve discussed many times on FutureDerm, natural skin care isn’t always better. (Read more: Controversy – Why Natural Skin Care Isn’t Always Better on FutureDerm). Yet, as this trend continues to rise, it’s also taken with it the kitschy, fun, granola idea of making your own skin care at home. I sometimes go on Pinterest and am astonished at the number of at-home DIY “skin care treatments” that are ineffective, pore-clogging, or even damaging to the skin. Here are a few:
1. Doesn’t Work for Cellulite = Mix 1/2 cup coffee grounds with 2 tbsp. olive oil, put in microwave for 10 seconds, wrap in plastic wrap and apply to the skin
Coffee contains caffeine, which in turn has theophyllines that have been shown to shrink fat cells. Unfortunately, putting coffee in olive oil will not allow theophyllines to penetrate the skin as well as other delivery systems. I mean, olive oil is an occlusive agent, like Vaseline or mineral oil. So when caffeine is mixed with olive oil, its active components (theophyllines) will not be able to penetrate your skin very well.
If, on the other hand, a chemist placed caffeine in a butylene or propylene glycol solution (the same solution used in transdermal patches), the theophyllines from caffeine can penetrate into the skin quite well (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 1990). The caffeine will temporarily dehydrate fat cells, making them shrink in size and appear less visible (Vanderbilt University, 2006).
Bottom line: Olive oil is simply a lousy delivery system, and this will not occur as readily.
2.) Doesn’t Work for Wrinkles: Soak 5 almonds in milk overnight, grind the almonds into a paste, add 2 tbsp honey to the paste, apply to your face.
Milk contains lactic acid, which is superb for the skin. Unfortunately, milk also contains DHT (androgens), which can stimulate oil production in the skin. In fact, the DHT (androgens) in regular milk have been associated with acne (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2008).
Better: Use hormone-free milk.
Best: Use a concentrated lactic acid product, like Lac-Five or prescription Lac-Hydrin.
As for the almonds, this one gets a big fat what from me. Yes, almonds are rich in calcium and iron and low in fat – but what does that have to do with your skin?! Five of the six most proven topicals in skin care are nowhere to be found in almonds — retinoids, niacinamide, alpha hydroxy acids, peptides, and sunscreen. You may get a touch of antioxidants from almonds, but nowhere near as many as if you use an antioxidant concentrate serum or moisturizer.
Bottom Line: Almonds are best when ingested, not when applied topically. Milk should never be used on the face unless it is hormone-free.
3.) Doesn’t work for undereye circles = Crush up mint leaves
Mint’s scent is soothing and calming. Unfortunately, unlike cucumber, mint has a high irritant potential that does not make it suitable for undereye skin. Mint causes chelitis and contact allergy in many people (Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 2008). Second, while mint contains some antioxidants and vitamin A (Discovery Health), it’s not a highly concentrated dose of either ingredient. While its scent soothes and relaxes, this is best kept away from the eyes and used as a perfume, deodorant, or spray.
Better: Use cucumber slices or tea bags.
Best: Use eye creams designed for undereye circles, like Lumixyl Revitaleyes or our own FutureDerm Vitamin CE Eye Cream 10.0.
For the record, studies show dark circles are aided best with vitamin A and vitamin K in combination if the cause of the dark circles is hyperpigmentation. The best treatments if the cause is blood pooling under the eyes are sleeping on two pillows (watching the neck) and using Haloxyl® , an agent that releases the bilirubin and iron in blood.
Bottom Line: Save the mint for your toothpaste or as a pick-me-up in your tea.
DIY beauty products can be fun because the consumer gets to experiment with a slew of different ingredients. And to believe that the keys to beauty exist in your kitchen sink – what could be better? Unfortunately, scientists have already isolated the active components of most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy oils and concentrated them in your skin care products.
If you seek natural, organic, and largely chemical-free products, those are available with concentrated ingredients as well.
My qualm about the whole thing are that consumers are wasting their time and money on some of these home remedies, and also putting themselves at real risk for irritation and/or allergic reaction. While methods like cucumber slices or tea bags on the eyes can temporarily work, any beauty expert tell you these methods aren’t as effective as the best eye creams on the market.
Similarly, products on the shelf usually undergo rigorous testing by dermatologists and skin scientists before you purchase them- but when you’re at the the kitchen sink, you’re the formulator and the test subject. So unless you want to treat your skin like a lab experiment, I would stay far away from any home remedies. At the very least, do a patch test first on a small bit of skin to test your reaction, and stop taking beauty advice from anyone without a medical or scientific degree, an aesthetician’s license, or years of experience with skin care.
I don’t mean to be harsh – but I feel as though the beauty industry is taking a downturn as we are ignoring the advice of MD dermatologists and PhD-level scientists specializing in cosmetic science to mash up produce and apply it to our faces, without any regard to irritant potential because it’s “natural”. Cost is not an excuse either – there are many sensational products available for a large range of prices out there!
What are your thoughts on home remedies? Let’s discuss!