Natural Beauty Products: The Not-Scary Version

While DIY skincare is generally messy, the formulations are inelegant, and analogs to at-home concoctions can easily (and often inexpensively) be found at your local drug or department store, I am not immune to the siren song of good old-fashioned kitchen chemistry. After my most recent post, I feel inclined to prove that not all DIY skincare ingredients are out to wreak havoc on your face. In that spirit, I’m going to share one kickass anti-inflammatory tip and one slap-yo-mama-it’s-so-good spot treatment you can make in your kitchen. 

THE TIP: WITCH HAZEL

DO NOT GO OUT AND IMMEDIATELY DOUSE YOUR FACE IN WITCH HAZEL. Did you learn nothing from my last post about  being a knowledgeable consumer?? Witch hazel has some skincare benefits, but it also contains three notable irritants:

  1. Witch hazel is notably more acidic than the acid mantle and should thus be thoroughly diluted prior to use.
  2. Most drugstore witch hazels contain alcohol, which can be very drying. Always check the listed ingredients and follow the skincare advice of Patrick Bateman: use skincare products “with little or no alcohol, as alcohol can dry out the skin.”
  3. Brands like Thayer’s produce wonderful, alcohol-free witch hazels targeted for a variety of skin concerns, but they also add fragrance and tocopheryl acetate to their witch hazels. If you are sensitive to fragrance or vitamin E, avoid these brands. Again, check the ingredients and always spot test new products before facial use.

If you can avoid these pitfalls, witch hazel can be a wonderful astringent and anti-inflammatory. I keep a small (3 0z) diluted (2:1 ratio of water and witch hazel) spray bottle and spritz my face in the morning to combat occasional redness. That said, my queen and savior Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice totally disagrees with me on this subject due to the tannin content of witch hazel bark, and I’m just a hobbyist, so I really have no idea what I’m doing.

THE SPOT TREATMENT: MOISTURIZING-EXFOLIATING-BRIGHTENING GOODNESS

There is aspirin in this recipe. Obviously, do not use if you have an aspirin allergy. Also, let it be known that acetylsalicylic acid (the core component of aspirin) and salicylic aspirin (BHA and acne-fighting superstar) are two different things, that you would need to either digest the aspirin or employ very expensive lab to create salicylic acid from acetyl salicylic acid, and–even if you had such a lab at your disposal–it would require an improbably immense supply of aspirin tablets to create an appreciable amount of salicylic acid. However, aspirin is still an A+ ingredient capable of reducing irritation and calming inflammation.

For this treatment, you will need:

  • 3 crushed non-coated aspirin (potent anti-inflammatory containing acetylsalicylic acid)
  • 2 Tbps. of yogurt (contains some lactic acid–a chemical exfoliant of the AHA variety–but not at an appropriate pH to effectively exfoliate in this formula; it mostly just feels nice and thickens the whole shebang to a nice consistency)
  • 2 tsp. honey (has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, as well as being a humectant moisturizer)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (a spice with purported antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties*)

*Very little clinical research has been conducted to support these claims, though turmeric has long been used in China and the Indian subcontinent for medical purposes. However, turmeric does possess clinically tested antifungal and antimicrobial benefits.

To begin, take a large spoon and crush your aspirin.

Action shot!

To your crushed aspirin, combine your yogurt…

All that white powder looks suspicious.

…your honey…

Distracted by my endeavors to take a picture, I likely overdid it on the honey.

and your turmeric.

I’m just eyeballing the measurements here.

Finally, mix your ingredients thoroughly.

It looks a bit like mustard and a bit like thousand island dressing.

Slap it on your skin:

Just you wait. The back of my hand is going to be smooth and glowing!

This spot treatment is great for big, swollen zits and other minor inflammatory ailments, such as bug bites. I made a large batch for this tutorial because I suffered the wrath of a few nasty spider bites. However, as this kitchen concoction contains no preservatives, it won’t keep well. Don’t make more than you think you can use in 24 hours or so.

Once applied, leave on for 5-15 minutes, but be sure to keep an eye on it so as to avoid possible irritation. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. You may require the aid of a washcloth to get it all off. If you have pale skin, be warned that you may turn a bit titian. Turmeric has been used as a fabric and food dye for centuries and is fully capable of turning you a nice shade of oompa loompa.

Additionally, if you’re a fan of DIY skincare, I would recommend purchasing some litmus paper to ensure your products remain within a healthy pH range (skin’s natural pH ranges between 4.5 and 5.5). Strips aren’t the most accurate measure of pH, but they will give you a rough idea of a solution’s pH. If the end result is too alkaline, you can adjust the pH with a bit of apple cider vinegar.

What are your favorite DIY skincare recipes? Post in the comments or via email and I will gladly send feedback!

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