Home beauty treatments went from one option to the option during the pandemic. The transition was painful for some (reluctant self-waxers), but it also popularized the DIY face mask—one of the most satisfying (and practical) skin-care options around.
Whether you have access to a spa or salon or not, a homemade face mask using simple ingredients puts the self in self-care. Not only are you taking the time to anoint your face with glow-inducing goop, but you also know where each ingredient came from—your fridge or pantry, selected by the person who knows your skin best: you.
FYI before you DIY:
It’s important to note, however, that just because a mask is simple or has a “natural” label—or the internet told you to do it—doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe for your skin or that your face is going to love it.
“You probably wouldn’t take random pills before vetting how they could affect your body, so you should use that rule of thumb for your skin as well,” Mona Gohara, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF. “The wrong ingredients can make your at-home beauty treatment go sideways fast.”
Dr. Gohara says you should check with a dermatologist if you’re unsure about a specific ingredient, but in general, she advises DIY maskers to avoid: lemon juice and apple cider vinegar (their high acidity can lead to irritation and burning), spices with heavy yellow coloring like turmeric (which can cause discoloration), and cinnamon (a well-known skin irritant).
As for the best DIY-mask ingredients, there’s limited research on using fridge and pantry staples as skincare, but the simple skin helpers below are generally well-tolerated, Ife Rodney, M.D., lead dermatologist at Eternal Dermatology in Columbia, Maryland, tells SELF:
Oatmeal: Colloidal oatmeal (ground-up oats—you can buy it or just blend rolled oats until they turn into flour) can help improve dryness and lock in moisture.1 It also has anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to soothe itchy and/or irritated skin.2
Avocado: It contains high concentrations of fats that can increase skin moisture, as well as vitamin E, an antioxidant that may protect against free-radical damage.3
Honey: A natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory ingredient, honey may reduce redness and irritation.4 It’s also been shown to help with exfoliation and keep skin moisturized.5 Dr. Rodney notes that raw honey is preferred, since it may contain more beneficial properties, including extra antioxidants.6
Green tea: It contains a high concentration of polyphenols, antioxidants that can have an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effect.7
Aloe: Known for its soothing, anti-inflammatory, moisturizing properties.10
No matter the components of your homemade facial mask, though, you should always do a patch test first, since we all have unique skin that may react differently to certain ingredients, says Dr. Rodney. Here’s how: Apply a small amount of your mask of choice behind your ear, rinse off after 15 minutes, then wait 24 hours to see if you experience any redness or irritation.
Oh, and one last thing: Don’t make a big batch of your DIY mask to save for later. “Once you create a homemade mask, you need to use it immediately,” says Dr. Rodney. “Not only might it quickly begin to lose its effectiveness when exposed to air and light, but, depending on the ingredients, it could also develop bacteria the longer it sits, which could end up clogging your pores and causing acne.” Nope, that’s not what we’re going for here.
Easy DIY face mask recipes you can make at home
Inspired to get creative in the cosmetic kitchen, as it were? We rounded up nine dermatologist-approved DIY mask recipes you can try at home—some from beauty brands and blogs; some straight from the doctors’ mouths. And if you’re still in the why-make-it-when-I-can-buy-it camp, don’t worry. We’ve got options—selected by Dr. Gohara and Dr. Rodney—for you, too.