In Western culture, we tend to have a very “more is more” attitude towards, well, just about everything. We’ve been conditioned to equate value with quantity without questioning the worth or necessity of what we’re doing. That lettuce is available in a huge bulk box at BJs? Buy it, even if you’re not sure if you can eat it before it goes bad. Been taking medicine but not feeling better? Take a higher dose. That acne spot treatment not working? Add more and apply it more often. You get the picture.
This concept is something I’ve encountered in my career too. Current skincare regimen not cutting it? Add more products. Didn’t lose weight after a detox? Do stronger one. Skin serum not getting results fast enough? Make it stronger. And so on.
Many good things in life are best in small doses, and that’s certainly the case for DIY skincare remedies–especially common kitchen ones like what you might see on DIY Pinterest boards or blogs. In one of my posts for Green Beauty Team, I talked about the dangers of using the combination of crushed up aspirin with raw apple cider vinegar (ACV). On the topic of ACV, I’ve also written about how it’s strong enough to actually burn off skin tags and warts–but that you have to be super careful because it’s so easy to damage the surrounding tissue.
2 examples of DIY skincare remedies where less is more!
I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again–
Just become something is edible, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for use on the skin. (Click HERE to tweet that!)
At least not at full strength, and not often. One example is raw potato. Raw potato applied directly to the skin either as a poultice or just by itself is a remedy that can help calm a nasty breakout before a big event. It’s also a common skin lightening remedy for dark spots. However, potato in its raw state can be toxic or cause allergic and irritant reactions in some people due to its concentration of alkaloids, similar to those contained by some other members of the nightshade family. A single application for a short period of time might be fine for some people, but using it on a regular basis for a chronic skin condition can be downright dangerous not just to the skin, but to the whole body.
Garlic is another example. I’m obsessed with garlic–I love the smell, the taste, and it’s rich with medicinal benefits. It’s known for it’s excellent antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is a common and well researched herbal remedy. However, I’ve seen recommendations from DIY beauty and wellness writers online who recommend applying raw garlic to acne breakouts, with the thought that its antibacterial properties will kill the p.acnes bacteria and thus make the breakout go away. While it would likely kill the bacteria, applying raw garlic to the skin would also likely cause serious inflammation and burning; potentially leading to scarring and hyperpigmentation.
This is a case where the idea of “less is more” has to do with dilution. If you really want to use garlic topically (and don’t mind the smell), you could make an herbal oil out of it using an oil that’s appropriate for your skin type and then use that oil as a carrier oil in a skincare formulation. You could also infuse raw ACV with the garlic and then add a small amount of it to a toner recipe. But you’d never use that combination at full strength, due to the risk of inflammation and burns. And because the smell of garlic–while delightful in food–isn’t ideal in a skincare product, you’d likely want to choose a different herb/extract for a topical product.
We’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg here–but there are many more ingredients that are often touted as “miracle” kitchen DIY skincare remedies that I want you to avoid at full strength. In my latest article on Green Beauty Team, I dig into “7 Natural DIY Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Use and Why.”
Do you want to learn how to use natural ingredients safely and effectively in DIY skincare products?
*Image 1: “Au marché – pommes de terre” by Dinkum – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Au_march%C3%A9_-_pommes_de_terre.JPG#/media/File:Au_march%C3%A9_-_pommes_de_terre.JPG Image 2: “Crushed-Garlic 32885-480×360 (4904476989)” by Emilian Robert Vicol from Com. Balanesti, Romania – Crushed-Garlic_32885-480×360. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crushed-Garlic_32885-480x360_(4904476989).jpg#/media/File:Crushed-Garlic_32885-480x360_(4904476989).jpg.