Disclaimer: I don’t do DIY face masks. If I’m whipping something up in the kitchen, the only reason it’ll end up on my face is if I happen to miss my mouth when I’m eating. But Pinterest proves I’m in the minority. A quick search for “homemade face masks” on the site pulls up an endless scroll of recipes, photos, and ingredient spotlights.
Clearly, there’s traction behind this movement. Part of its popularity: The rise of natural ingredients within beauty. Customers are getting savvy about what they put on their skin, and more often than not, they want that to be as close to nature as possible. “My patients find them appealing since they usually contain fresh, natural ingredients,” says Karyn Grossman, a dermatologist based in Los Angeles.
If you’d rather put avocado on your face instead of on your toast (a decision I will try my best not to question even though it makes zero sense), you have the support of derms, who generally agree that DIY face masks are fair game. “They’re easy, inexpensive, and can be as effective, if not more, than traditional masks,” says New York City-based dermatologist Francesca Fusco. Besides, they’re customizable. Instead of following a recipe to the letter, you can mix and match based on what your skin needs. Of course, you’re just not going to get some of the high-tech ingredients that you’d find in a suped-up sheet mask. So if you’re looking for lifting and tightening, says Grossman, you’re out of luck. But tighter pores, brighter skin, and a smoother texture are all entirely possible with at-home mask.
More DIY skin-care hacks to keep in your cabinet:
- This Is Exactly How to Make Jessica Alba’s Vanilla Sugar Body Scrub
- Whip Up This Soothing DIY Chest Rub From The Ayesha Curry Cookbook
- Could This DIY Contouring Mask Change Your Beauty Routine?
The biggest downside is that the FDA hasn’t tested the safety of any of these recipes—so slather on a kitchen concoction at your own risk. Still, “there isn’t that much damage you can do if you pay attention to your ingredients,” says Grossman. The only problems she’s seen in her practice are stained skin from turmeric (which temporary turns it yellow), over-exfoliation, and a reaction in one patient who decided to add her own acid to a recipe. (This is never a good idea.) If your skin feels uncomfortable at any point, you can just rinse it off and apply a soothing ingredient, like aloe vera or coconut oil, to minimize any redness or irritation. No harm, no foul.
The best DIY face masks contain a combination of ingredients, and these have been deemed safe. First, choose the base for depending on your skin type. Then, you can toss in extras depending on what you have and what you’re trying to treat.
For your base: According to Grossman, normal skin types should go for dairy ingredients, like yogurt, milk, sour cream, and egg whites. Dry complexions benefit from oils like coconut, avocado, and olive oils, while those with oily skin should try lemon juice, apple cider, or either bentonite or kaolin clay. If you’re on the lookout for a good eye mask (pun so intended), you can’t go wrong with green or chamomile tea bags.
Once you have your main mix, you can add in whatever of the following you happen to have in your pantry. Grossman recommends cocoa powder or coffee grounds to exfoliate skin, corn starch to tighten saggy pores, and either coarse sugar, brown sugar, or rolled oats for scrubbing action. And anything citrusy that you’d turn to when you had a cold? Well those vitamin C blasts (grapefruit, lemon, tangerine) are all excellent for brightening dull skin, too.
If this list makes you feel hungry more than anything else, you’re probably better off turning it into dessert. But if you’re itching to get mixing? Go ahead. The derms give the green light.
Now, find out how to make your own DIY scrub: