Skin Care as Self Care: Safe DIY Ways to Pamper Yourself

Skin care is a great tool to provide structure, routine, calm, confidence and pride in yourself in tumultuous times. Finding products is fun, doing the routine relaxing, and the results really offer tangible self improvement and a confidence boost.

But unfortunately, a lot of the DIY at-home spa day guides out there on the internet (ahem – Pinterest) are full of recipes and advice that might end up hurting your skin. They suggest irritating ingredients or pointless products and I think that we can do better.

Let’s look at the commonly suggested recipes and tips to find out what’s bogus and what’s not, and discuss some better alternatives.

Dont: Steam your face

Here’s something that might shock you – pores don’t open and close! So it’s unnecessary (and boring) to learn over a hot steaming bowl of water for 5+ minutes. On top of this, extreme heat can break capillaries leaving you with sometimes permanent visible red marks. Not very relaxing!

Rather: Oil massage

A better way to prep your skin for a face mask is to gently massage with a carrier oil (my favourite is Jojoba). This will work to dissolve and dislodge sebaceous filaments that make your pores seem larger and darker. A gentle massage is super relaxing and will get your blood flowing, which is a way better use of that 5 minutes!

Don’t: Scrub with salt, baking soda, or sugar

Salt is very rough on a microscopic level and can have sharp, jagged edges. It’s also very drying! Baking soda causes pH imbalance which leads to skin conditions like acne and dehydration. If you really love the feeling of a physical exfoliant, sugar is ok for the body occasionally as it’s smoother and partially dissolves in water, but will likely also irritate the face. I recommend a Konjac sponge for a gentle and reusable alternative.

Rather: Usa an AHA serum, lotion or mask

AHAs like glycolic, lactic and mandelic acid not only loosen old skin cells, but they also deeply hydrate and increase collagen production. They can reverse freckles and hyperpigmentation too. My current favourite for beginners is Derma E Overnight Peel. For the body, something like AmLactin will do the trick.

Don’t: Put essential oil into face masks

I don’t think homemade masks are super effective at the best of times. I’d rather spend a few bucks on Freedman Avocado Oatmeal clay mask and guarantee a great experience. But ones with essential oil are especially problematic. You’ll risk allergic reactions and skin burns! Plus there are so many other ingredients which will actually have tangible, positive effects on your skin.

Rather: Try ground oats + honey

If you still want to DIY the face mask, a mixture of ground oats (or oat flour) and honey is the way to go. Honey is a natural humectant and has antimicrobial properties. Colloidal oatmeal – a fancy way of saying ‘ground up’ oatmeal – is anti-inflammatory and soothing. These two ingredients should be fine on all skin types, plus it still smells delicious (and tastes good if it gets in your mouth)!

Don’t: Place cucumbers on your eyes

Woah, can cucumbers hurt you too? Relax, they’re harmless (and delicious!). But while cool cucumber slices laid over your closed eyes might be soothing and anti-inflammatory, they don’t offer any unique benefits when it comes to really reducing eye bags and puffiness. Think of it as a glorified (and wasteful) ice cube.

Rather: Cool some tea bags

Refrigerated (used) green tea or coffee bags are just as soothing as cucumbers, but also carry a powerful antioxidant punch and so help to prevent sun damage! If puffiness is your problem, the caffeine in tea or coffee will also immediately take the swelling down thanks to its natural circulatory stimulating effects.

Don’t: Use coconut oil on your body

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but coconut oil is comedogenic or acne-causing for a lot of people and is also the food of choice for skin-loving fungus malassezia. So if you suffer from body acne, it’s not the best choice.

Rather: Slather yourself in baby oil

Baby oil is pretty much entirely made up of mineral oil, which not only is one of the least likely ingredients to cause a reaction, it’s super occlusive so it traps water in your skin, leaving you softer for longer!

I hope this post gave you some ideas for better ways to take care of your skin while pampering yourself during a night in. Of course, there are no unbreakable rules. Skin care can just be for fun and to each their own, but I think why not do some good while you relax!

Essie