DIY Skincare

Or: Something to read that isn't terrifying or depressing


A reminder that even if you’re indoors all day, you need SPF. Remember the truck driver.


Things I shoulda said in my previous missives:

  1. Don’t use hot water to wash your hands. Tepid is best, just like for your face - not even warm, okay, just room temp - if you’re experiencing unrelenting dryness despite constantly moisturizing, it could very well be because you’re scalding the lipid barrier right off your skin.

  2. If you do a foot peel, the flaking dead skin chunks will clog up your shower drain and it is so disgusting. I should’ve warned you about that, but somehow I forget how bad it is from year to year. So gross.


I am fine. I hope you are fine. I also hope that, if you are not required to be out and about, you are staying home and baking bread and binge-watching TV and trying to limit your news and social media intake in these dark times. I thought I should try to provide you with some content that doesn’t make you entirely despair and that will maybe give you a few minutes of fun at-home pampering of some sort (or at least the consideration thereof.) So here I am, trying. GO TEAM.

Right, the thing is that I’ve been seeing a bunch of dipwads on Instagram giving extremely bad Make It At Home beauty treatment recipes. Which, granted, is nothing new - and is not dangerous for all humanity like the bad DIY hand sanitizer recipes out there - but there’s quite the increase these days and perhaps you are more inclined to try it out of sheer boredom and/or in an attempt to throw some variety into your routine.

I am not here to discourage you from this! There are many things in your kitchen that are actually good for your skin and that I often recommend, especially if you need something fast and/or don’t want to spend a lot. (Although maybe you don’t want to waste significant amounts of your food stores on skincare until people stop panic-buying groceries. Not that dried beans are involved in any of the following. My only any off-label usage suggestion for dried beans is as pie weights, but anyway.) Unfortunately, there are also a lot of things that are BAD for your skin that the Nature=Good crowd has put out there as brilliant solutions to skincare problems. I can’t have you falling prey to such such villainy, and as I am the sworn protector of your skin it is incumbent upon me to tell you How Not To Be A Dumbfuck.

We’ll keep this as simple as I know how. Two categories: Yes Okay and No Not That. I’m just going to list out the ones I know about and the deal is that you can mix and match the good ingredients however you like while avoiding the bad shit entirely. It’s like being an experimental home cook, but without the danger of ruining dinner, what’s not to love? Here we go.

Breakfast? Or spa day? You decide!

Things Not To Put On Your Face

Essential oils:
Just no. I don’t CARE what the local glowing-faced herb-garden aficionado who alleges to have cured your neighbor’s leaky bowel through the healing power of myrrh tells you, okay? These oils are basically for aromatherapy, not for a healthy dermis. There are potentially a couple of non-harmful exceptions but they are rare, and “not harmful” does not mean “beneficial” so why take the chance? I beg of you, in skincare as in all things: steer clear of quackery. If you want a face oil, I talked about what’s good here.

Lemon (or any citrus) juice/peel: This is one of the top ingredients touted in DIY skincare and I cannot caution you enough to stay the hell away from it. It is too acidic, which can lead to irritation, rashes, and chemical burns. AND it can cause uneven patches of depigmentation as well as something called phytophotodermatitis which you should only google if you have a strong stomach. You wanna fade your freckles, get your Vitamin C the safe way.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Also super popular, also super acidic - so again with the potential for irritation and chemical burns. Here, I’ll let these people give you the spiel about all the ways it ranges from actively bad to just not-great. Plus it stinks. Literally.

Tea Tree Oil: I’m talking about pure undiluted tea tree oil, here. In most skincare products, it’s fine - as long as your skin doesn’t hate it, anyway (and a lot of skin hates it.) But it needs to be extremely diluted or it can cause horrible irritation and sensitization. Don’t go dabbing it straight from the bottle onto your zits, okay.

Baking Soda: The pH is too high. It gets recommended to use as a scrub or an acne-fighting treatment, but it’s only going to piss off your skin and fuck up your moisture barrier.

The Good Stuff

: I WILL HEAR NO SLANDER AGAINST THE HUMBLE OAT. Call it fuddy-duddy, I don’t give a shit, it’s reliable and cheap and soothing and hydrating AND EDIBLE, my god what more could you want from a grain? Makes a wonderful mask, especially if your skin is feeling irritated, and can function as a face scrub that does zero harm while sloughing. You can also grind it to the finest dust you can, dissolve it in water (as much as possible) and soak some cotton pads in that oat water - put cotton pads on face, soak in the hydration, voila home-made sheetmask-ish.

Green Tea
: It’s very soothing and with regular use can help make your skin very resilient and healthy. It’s anti-inflamatory, antimicrobial, and full of the antioxidants that skincare companies inject into the best products anyway. Use it as a toner, keep some in the fridge (or as ice cubes) to put over tired, puffy eyes in the morning.

Honey: Also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, as well as being extremely hydrating and reducing oiliness. It’s one of the rare ingredients that’s good for oily skin AND dry skin, but dry skin especially loves it.

Yogurt: It has lactic acid! Granted, in very small amounts, so it’s not doing much exfoliation - but you can still notice some brightening after a yogurt mask. It also boosts hydration and is soothing.

Turmeric: Forget all the hoo-hah about skin health benefits, none of that is proven as far as I can tell, BUT this is wonderfully brightening! Don’t leave it on too long, because it’ll stain you skin - the more fair-skinned you are, the less you should use, and the darker your skin tone the more golden-glowiness you’re likely to get. It’s especially prized as an under-eye treatment for dark circles, make a paste of it (but not with lemon juice! go for green tea or yogurt) and leave it on for like 10 mins, see what happens.

Egg White: Girl, this trick is old. Like Ancient Rome old, okay. (It was especially popular in Elizabethan times, if I recall correctly.) The albumen tightens the skin and can make your pores look smaller. It’s a terrific skin prep before doing a full face of makeup: just brush it all over your face and wait for it to dry, then rinse.

Pumpkin: It’s full of gently exfoliating enzymes and it’s super hydrating, as well as having a little of that glow-giving effect that comes from the beta carotene in it.

Sugar/Salt: These are good scrubs because they dissolve before they can do too much damage, as long as you don’t use them dry. Keep the salt to body use, but sugar on your face is fine - it’s actually hydrating. Put a pinch of sugar in your face wash once a week or so, if you feel the need. My fave is to mix some salt with olive oil to scrub your bod in the shower, especially your legs, and you’ll be all smooth and soft like a frolicking seal.

Okay so those are the ones I can think of. I mean, aside from things like “cut your hair according to the phases of the moon” (I doubt it works but I will never say it doesn’t) or “can you really cure plantar warts with a potato?” (I don’t know, but let’s compare crazy folklore shit we learned along the way.) There are probably a million other things you’ve heard you should use as skincare that are not mentioned above, so the comments to this post are open to all. Feel free to ask about the whack-ass pantry items your mom’s neighbor’s great-aunt swears will preserve your youth, and I will happily tell you what I know and/or investigate it.

You can also ask about anything else! I Am Here For You in your skincare hour of needs. Or honestly, just feel free to vent, this is a fucked-up time and I personally am having regular stress dreams, one of which of course was just about me breaking out in Nestle Crunch style zits all over my face. When I woke up, though, I realized this is actually the best time ever for that to happen as we’re all hiding inside anyway, so after that I just stress-dreamed about people crowding too close to me at the grocery store. Next time, I will attempt to lucid dream some scary rash onto my face to repel the close-shoppers. I keep myself entertained, yes I do.

Isolatingly Yours,