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DIY beauty routines you should probably stay away from

From face scrubs to foundation, the Internet is full of DIY skincare recipes that promise to be both simple and affordable, but there are many popular ingredients and practices that just aren’t good for our skin.

Beauty expert Seanna Cohen shares some DIY routines you should stay clear of and what you should do instead.

Don’t use lemon juice on the skin
There are so many online recipes using lemon juice as an ingredient in toners and masks for lightening the skin and for treating acne scars, sunspots, and freckles. The theory is that lemon juice is high in Vitamin C (which can brighten) and citric acid (an alpha hydroxyl acid which exfoliates and lightens).

The problem is that lemon juice can be very irritating to the skin and can also cause severe photosensitivity, causing blisters, burns, and hyper-pigmentation when in the sun.

Instead, use yogurt as a gentle alpha hydroxy acid mask to exfoliate and brighten the skin. Simply combine 1 tbsp of full fat yogurt with 1 tsp of honey and leave it on for 15 – 20 minutes.

Don’t use sugar or salt as a face scrub
Homemade fact scrubs often call for sugar or salt to exfoliate the skin. Sugar and salt are both great for body scrub, but they are far too harsh for your face. The angular shaped granules can scratch and cause micro tears to the skin, making it more susceptible to bacteria, irritation, and inflammation.

Instead, use ingredients like ground oatmeal, flax seed, or chia to gently exfoliate the skin.

Don’t use tap water in homemade beauty products
Many DIY creams or lotions call for water as an ingredient but, if you remember in science class, anything that contains water can potentially spoil, mould, or grow bacteria.  Tap water contains microbes and metals that, when mixed with oils and other ingredients, speed the chance of a product spoiling. Just like food, you can usually tell when a product is going “off”, but not always. Spoiled products can cause skin and eye infections, and other unwanted reactions. Gross.

Instead, use distilled water or distilled liquids like witch hazel, rose water, or orange blossom water. Natural preservatives like Vitamin E and essential oils like rosemary can also be used to help extend the shelf life of homemade beauty products, but it’s not guaranteed. Anything made with water that doesn’t contain a commercial grade preservative should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place (like your fridge).

Don’t use potentially irritating ingredients without a patch test
Cinnamon has been deemed a great acne-busting spice, but for many it can be extremely irritating and can cause the skin to sting and burn. Spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger can be too stimulating for the face; the same goes for some essential oils. These ingredients can cause redness, irritation, and dry patches. Some people can tolerate the spices, but use sparingly and with caution.

Use a patch test before applying any products to your skin. Apply a small amount of the producer on the inside of your arm, or behind your ear. Let it sit on the skin for the length of time you would a facemask, or other products.