Pinterest is full of great DIY beauty tips. In fact, there are so many great recipes on there that I’ve completely given up buying body scrubs and started to whip up my own oil and sugar scrubs instead! This is perfect because it’s saving me around £10 a month in Soap and Glory, as I can usually find all of the ingredients I need hiding away in my baking cupboard.

There’s just one problem that I’ve been noticing lately though. I have had skin problems in the past, and because of that, I’ve developed a real interest in skin care science. And some of the recipes I’ve spotted whilst pinning are full of huge red flags. It worries me that people are trying out dodgy recipes without doing any research, so I thought I would try to put together a handy guide to the ingredients which you should always try to avoid in your homemade beauty products.

Baking Soda

That tub of baking soda in your kitchen is not just a pot of scrubby little grains for sloughing off dead skin cells. Put your goggles on folks, it’s about to get scientific! Remember the pH scale from chemistry classes? Quick refresher: 1 is acidic, and 10 is alkali. Your skin likes to be somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards acidic (at around 4.5-5). Baking soda, however, is around a 9. The alkaline nature of baking soda can change your skin’s pH to the point that it could damage your its protective barrier. This, in turn, means that your skin may struggle to fight off bacteria, leaving you open to irritation and acne. Check out this great Reddit post for more info.

Lemon juice

And not just lemon – any neat citrus juice can cause photosensitivity and irritation and in a worst case scenario chemical burns. Like Baking Soda, citrus juice is just the wrong pH for your skin. It’s far too acidic and can cause real damage for some people.


This may be controversial because I know a lot of people swear that their cinnamon masks are the best thing they’ve ever done for their skin. And if that’s you, yay – I’m glad you found something that works for you. But if you have sensitive skin and are thinking of trying a cinnamon-based DIY please bear in mind that this ingredient can be highly irritating for a lot of people. If you’re desperate to try it, test the mixture on your inner arm at least 24 hours before you put it anywhere near your face.

Pure essential oils

Undiluted essential oils can easily cause irritation to your skin, especially if it’s sensitive. Some are fine to use neat, but many will need to be mixed with a carrier oil  (if in doubt, Google it). A few drops of lavender oil in a body scrub will probably be fine, but please don’t rub straight up essential oils onto your face!

PVA Glue

This one is a no-brainer. Glue will not “pull all the gunk out of your pores”. Glue is for craft projects and craft projects only, please don’t put it on your skin!

ANYTHING that says, “This will burn, but that just means it’s working!”

It does not mean it’s working. It means it’s irritating your skin, potentially causing damage to your skin’s moisture barrier which could take weeks to repair. Please, please don’t risk it. In fact, if anything you put on your face, DIY or store-bought causes any discomfort above a slight tingling, it’s best to gently rinse it off with lukewarm water as soon as you can.


Now, of course, I’m sure there are people out there using lemon juice and baking soda face scrubs every day who have never had a single spot in their life. Maybe cinnamon oil brightens your skin more than any expensive night cream ever has. There are plenty of folks out there living on junk food and not gaining weight when they look at a cupcake like I do, too. Just because it works for you, doesn’t mean it’s a great idea for everyone else. Or as they say over on Reddit, Your Mileage May Vary.

It’s important to use your initiative and if you’re unsure about putting an ingredient on your skin, research it first and leave it out if you are still worried. Always patch test your makes because they haven’t been tested for irritants like store-bought products have. And remember that the vast majority of those ‘before and after’ pics are incredibly fake – take them with a huge pinch of salt! Then use the rest of that salt to make a killer body scrub. Just leave out the lime juice, please!

Do you have any DIY triumphs or even horror stories? I would love to hear about them!


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