DIY skin care recipes are all over the Internet, boasting to miraculously transform your skin. Most dermatologists, though, are skeptical of how those claims hold up. “Lots of things that are in our kitchens are likely to break our skin out, and you can be allergic to ingredients,” says board-certified dermatologist Tracy Evans, MD.
For instance, the lemon in skin brightening recipes can make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight, leaving you with blisters or a rash, says board-certified dermatologist Esta Kronberg, MD. Even if a homemade product doesn’t do damage, it probably won’t do as much good as you’d hoped, Dr. Evans says.
She recommends sticking with products that have been through clinical trials for your big skin problems, but says DIY recipes can be fun and feel good. Before you smear anything on your face, she recommends doing a patch test. Hold a bit of the product to your arm with plastic wrap for a few days. If you don’t get any bad reactions, you’ve got the green light to use these dermatologist-approved recipes on your face.
Oatmeal for a cleanser
If harsh retinoids from anti-aging products have left your skin sensitive, swap your usual cleanser for this gentle oatmeal and honey scrub from board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, founder of SKINxFIVE. Oatmeal and honey have anti-inflammatory properties, and honey has the added bonus of being an antiseptic.
The lactic acid in yogurt, meanwhile, acts like a mild exfoliator. Grinding sunflower seeds packs a one-two punch too—the grounds have scrubbing power, plus you’ll release their moisturizing oils. “You want to add a little oil to it because you’re stripping the skin, so you leave it smooth but moisturized,” says Dr. Shamban.
Grind a tablespoon each of oats and sunflower seeds in a blender. Combine the mixture with two tablespoons of yogurt and one tablespoon of warm honey. Gently scrub it onto your face, neck, or chest, and leave on for three minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
Sugar for glowing skin
An exfoliating sugar scrub is a fun DIY addition to any at-home spa day, and it’s easy to make your own. Just mix one part olive or coconut oil with two parts sugar, adding a few drops of yummy-smelling essential oil if you’d like, says board-certified dermatologist Jessie Cheung, MD.
“You can make a more therapeutic sugar scrub by adding ground oats and honey for additional hydration and calming,” she says.
Green tea for peely, red skin
Dr. Shamban recommends her calming green tea rose water mist for irritated skin. The green tea acts as an antioxidant, and the rose water is anti-inflammatory. “When skin turns red or peely such as from eczema or psoriasis, there’s underlying inflammation,” she says.
“These support our natural system for mitigating the effects of free radical damage to the cells.” To make your own mist, steep two bags of green tea in half a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Take the tea bags out and mix in half a cup of rose water. Pour in a spray bottle to apply, and refrigerate the leftovers in a sealed jar.
Milk for irritated skin
A compress of milk is an old remedy for irritated skin, but it works, says Dr. Kronberg. Soak a gauze or washcloth with milk, then wring it out and lay it on the problem area to calm down your irritation.
Coconut oil for moisturizer
If you haven’t gotten on the coconut oil bandwagon yet, you’re missing out. It’s soothing and anti-inflammatory, making a handy homemade moisturizer, says Dr. Cheung. It looks solid in the jar, but it will rub in smoothly. “It does melt into the skin for a silky finish since it’s liquid at body temperature,” says Dr. Cheung.
Egg white for clean pores
Egg whites and yogurt join forces to clear your pores. The lactic acid in yogurt loosens up the gunk in your pores, and the egg whites suck it up dry it out, says Dr. Shamban. Avocado adds moisture and fights inflammation.
Whip up a homemade clear-skin mask by blending an egg white and a tablespoon of yogurt with half an avocado. Leave the mixture on for ten minutes, then rinse off.
Yogurt for dry skin
Dry skin irritated by a retinoid, sunburn, or wind damage could use a bit of TLC. Enter Dr. Shamban’s milk mask, which takes advantage of the lactic acid in milk and yogurt as a gentle exfoliator and moisturizer.
“The milk protein itself will stick on the skin a little bit, and so you get a little bit of leave-on moisture,” she says. “You have a milk mustache for your whole face.” Add that with anti-inflammatory honey and you’ve got a mask sure to soothe.
Mix together two tablespoons of powdered milk, ¼ cup of yogurt, and ½ teaspoon of honey. Leave the mixture on your face, neck, or chest for 15 minutes, then rinse off with room-temperature water.