Mythbusting: Homemade Food Skincare

By September 25, 2017Jennifer Rock
homemade food skincare

Personally, I quite like Pinterest as a platform. I think it’s fabulous that people from all walks of life and all corners of the planet can share their creative ideas at the click of a button, especially in terms of home design… my own abode may have been inspired by things I found on Pinterest. However, one particular segment of Pinterest is worrying to one who cares about skin health on a global scale: DIY skincare.

You will see all types of things under “DIY skincare” on Pinterest, such as body and facial scrubs, masks, cleansers, toners, serums, shower gels – to be honest, they’re only short of making their own dermarollers from sewing needles (disclaimer: NEVER, EVER, EVER even DREAM of doing this). When I was going through this, it reminded me of all of the advice I received from poorly skinformed people over the years and I decided that someone had to set everyone straight once and for all and that it may as well be me.

Homemade Food Skincare #1: Lemon Juice

This is indeed one that everyone has heard at some point. Lemon juice purportedly helps with hyperpigmentation, sun spots, oil control and acne and most recipes on Pinterest and on the other, anti-chemical side of the internet recommend applying undiluted lemon juice directly to age spots, pigmentation, sun spots, blackheads and whiteheads. Why is it said that this will work? Lemon has natural anti-bacterial properties and contains citric acid, which will exfoliate the skin and thus get rid of spots and pigmentation.

homemade food skincare

Bust That Myth

Undiluted, fresh lemon juice has a pH balance of approximately 2. Most skincare products will have a pH balance similar to the skin’s natural pH balance of 5.5 (between 4 to 6). However, when it comes to treatments like peels, the pH balance of the acids being used will be more like 2. The reason that a pH balance of 2 is acceptable in skincare treatments is because it is being applied by skincare professionals and is buffered with fats and oils. Applying lemon juice directly to the skin, without blending it with anything, can do serious harm to the skin and can compromise it’s pH balance – especially if the person carrying out this at-home “treatment” treats their skin as they usually do after (with abrasive products, makeup, other products etc.).

The Nerdie Judgement

Undiluted lemon juice on the face is a big no-no. Don’t do it. Even if you DON’T cause your skin harm, it will have minimal effect on the problems you’re looking to sort out. When it comes to acne, use a BHA or an AHA instead (as outlined in this article). For pigmentation of any kind, find serums and products that contain kojic acid or try IPL. When life gives you lemons, make lemon water NOT an at-home “exfoliant”.


Homemade Food Skincare #2: Sugar Scrubs

I’m prone to a lip sugar scrub, as I feel they are such a quick, simple and effective way to slough off the dry skin that builds up on blustery Autumn days. However, when it comes to sugar scrubs for the face, I can nearly feel my skin crawl. These facial scrubs usually have three ingredients: the grit (in this case sugar, sometimes salt), the carrier oil (ie. coconut, jojoba, almond) and something to scent it (ie. lemon, lime, lavender). You apply the scrub to a wet, cleansed face and buff away as if sanding an old wardrobe.

homemade food skincare

Bust That Myth

Yes, manual exfoliation is still exfoliation and will remove dead skin cells. However, exfoliating with gritty substances (sugar, salt, microbeads, you name it) causes micro-tears and trauma to the skin, leaving it red and inflamed. It does more damage than it does good!!

The Nerdie Judgement

Avoid like the plague. It’s always tempting to cut costs when it comes to skincare. Skincare can be extremely pricey and strong exfoliating ingredients like retinol can send the price of a product soaring so in this sense, I don’t blame people for trying to use things they find in the cupboard. However, when it comes to experiments that can actually damage the skin, you’re better off just not doing it. If you’re looking to exfoliate, it’s really best to leave it to the professionals, whether that means having it done in a clinic or salon . Sugar scrubs are great for the lips as long as you choose a hydrating carrier oil like sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil or argan oil.


Homemade Food Skincare #3: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar, according to the lovely, non-professional people of the internet, should be applied undiluted directly to spots or in a solution of three parts water to one part apple cider vinegar as a toner, daily and nightly.

homemade food skincare

Bust That Myth

Topical application of undiluted apple cider vinegar WILL kill bacteria, as the vinegar contains acetic acid, and in this respect, it has been proven to treat some skin infections. However, there is little scientific evidence as to why it is able to treat these skin infections. Admittedly, it does have keratolytic effects AKA it helps the skin to shed dead cells by unbinding them. But, and it’s a big but, undiluted apple cider vinegar can cause actual chemical burns on the skin, especially when left on for long periods of time (ie. if you are not washing it off).

The Nerdie Judgement

Because of the possibility of chemical burns, I would not recommend playing around with it at all, even diluted – maybe you can if you are a dermatological or pharmaceutical chemist who understands the effect of acids on the skin. Disclaimer: I have not tried this out myself. I am a firm believer on the effects of apple cider vinegar for the inside though. Apple cider vinegar, as it contains acetic acid, helps your body to absorb vitamins and nutrients as when the stomach hasn’t produced enough acid itself, all the good stuff cannot be taken in as well as usual. As you know, ensuring vitamins are making their way in is a third of the battle for full skin health!! If you’re looking to give it a try, the way to go is to add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it immediately before eating a full meal.

The Nerdie Summary

Quite simply put, do not put things on your face if you are not certain that a) they are meant to be on the skin, b) they are beneficial to the skin and c) they are not harmful to your skin health or your general health. The acids found in lemon juice and vinegar are not adjusted or blended to be used on the skin, like they would be in a cosmeceutical lab. Apple cider vinegar is good on the inside but not so great on the outside! Your skin will truly benefit from actual, lab-tested, results-driven skincare… the same benefits cannot be guaranteed by food facials.

Jennifer Rock

About Jennifer Rock


  • Frances Hyland says:

    You have said above not to use a sugar scrub but I watched you on ireland an doing a sugar coconut oil turmeric and a few other ingredients scrub. Confused.


    • Jennifer Rock says:

      Hello, Frances! Apologies on this – I should’ve made it a bit clearer in the text – sugar scrubs (as long as the sugar is finely milled, as in organic sugar) is okay to be used on the body. My scrub on Ireland AM was meant to be body only and the lips too, but scrubs of any kind should be kept awwwwaay from the face x

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