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How to Make a Homemade Face Mask

You can use a simple scrub or an entire exfoliation mask.
You can use a simple scrub or an entire exfoliation mask.
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Scan the shelves of your local pharmacy or beauty supply store, and you'll see plenty of tubs and tubes filled with ready-to-slather face masks. But what if you could get the same benefits -- clearer skin, a brighter complexion, less visible pores, redness relief -- with a homemade concoction straight from your own kitchen? With a few simple ingredients and a good, old-fashioned mixing bowl, you can whip up your own personalized treatment in minutes.

Not only are DIY face masks less expensive than store-bought varieties, they can also be safer and more effective, according to skin-care expert Julie Gabriel, author of the book Green Beauty Recipes. "Conventional masks are loaded with ingredients that do nothing for our skin," she explains. "For example, an average mask with avocado would contain 3 percent avocado puree, the rest being carriers, preservatives and fragrance. If you simply mash avocado and spread it on your skin or hair, you get a cosmetic product that contains 100 percent avocado -- and for a lot less money."

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Going DIY also gives you the chance to tailor the mask to your face, says natural skin-care expert Susanna Miles. "Most face care products are pretty generic," she says. "When you DIY, it's just a lot more personalized and fitted to your special skin needs."

Joanna Runciman, author of the site Actual Organics and The Radiant Woman's Handbook, notes another benefit to making face masks at home. "It is an inexpensive way to beautify yourself and friends," she says.

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Before you make your shopping list, think about any food allergies or sensitivities you may have, Gabriel cautions. "If you know you are allergic to a certain product, do not use in it your mask," she says. "If you have lactose intolerance, then avoid using yogurt and cream."

Runciman advises DIYers to perform a quick patch test before using any new ingredients in face masks. "Seek the expertise of your health care provider before starting a new regime or if you have any allergies or suspect that you might be allergic to certain fruits or oats," she says.

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Now comes the fun part: formulating a perfect cocktail of fruits, vegetables and other ingredients, custom-designed to address your skin woes. While the list of possibilities is virtually endless, Miles recommends the following basics:

  • Honey for any skin type, including acne-prone and sensitive. Its antibacterial properties help acne while its antioxidants improve normal skin.
  • Oatmeal for dry, acne-prone and sensitive skin. Its nutrients fight dryness, boost your skin's defense and cleanse pores.
  • Bananas for dry and sensitive skin. They contain vitamin C, which can help fight wrinkles.
  • Strawberries for any skin type, especially acne-prone. Containing alpha hydroxy acid, these berries help ease puffy eyes.
  • Avocado for dry skin. This fatty food contains vitamin E, which naturally repairs skin.
  • Papaya for mature skin. It contains an enzyme that helps eliminate dead skin cells.

Additional ingredients to explore include yogurt, egg whites, clay, spirulina (a nutrient-rich algae available in powdered form), green tea and other fruit purees. "Use baby food leftovers on your face!" Gabriel suggests.

Once you've crafted your recipe, it's as simple as mashing up the components with a fork and blending them in a glass or ceramic -- not metal or plastic -- bowl, Gabriel says. To achieve a thicker consistency, add a dash of cornstarch or cornmeal to your mixture, she counsels.

Don't feel like getting creative? Runciman suggests a simple strawberry face mask made from an ounce of strawberries, one tablespoon of local honey and one tablespoon of finely crushed oats. Mix the ingredients into a smooth paste with a blender or fork.

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Gabriel recommends applying a face mask three times a week after thoroughly cleansing your skin. Generally speaking, you should leave the mask on for 10 to 12 minutes or until it has dried out, but feel free to experiment to see what works best for you. If you experience any burning, discomfort or redness, immediately wash off the mask, and be especially careful if using anything citrus, Miles cautions. Citrus fruits contain a chemical that increases sensitivity to light for up to 24 hours.

Making your own DIY face masks is one great way to purge your medicine cabinet of harsh chemicals, artificial ingredients and wasteful packaging. And who knows -- it might even inspire you to go even greener by concocting your own cleansers, toners and spot treatments.

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But what if you just can't resist the fancy label and intoxicating scent of a ready-made mask from the store? It's okay to indulge your shopping habit once in awhile, Gabriel says. "The general rule is to avoid any mask made with detergents, synthetic fragrances, paraben preservatives and propylene glycol," she explains. "Always look at how much natural ingredient the mask contains. If your 'oranges and lemons face mask' lists fruit at the end of the ingredients list or does not list it at all, most likely you are being sold a generic face cream scented with orange fragrance."

For more information on making DIY face masks and natural skincare, check out the links on the next page.

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Sources

  • Gabriel, Julie. Personal correspondence. July 1, 2013.
  • Miles, Susanna. Personal correspondence. July 8, 2013.
  • Runciman, Joanna. Personal correspondence. July 1, 2013.

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