The saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” may be true for many things – but not dermatology.
DIY skincare recipes and homemade skin treatments are tempting to try. After all, they (appear to) cost less, and you avoid a trip to the doctor. But in reality, you can do much more harm than good.
What’s done in a professional dermatologist’s office cannot be as easily recreated at home as you may think. Here are the most common DIY skincare treatment fails and why they don’t work.
Dermabrasion is the process of resurfacing the skin by removing the superficial layers of skin. Dermatologists and surgeons do this with a revolving tool that essentially sands down the problem areas of skin.
Never try this at home! We’ve seen several instances where people have simple taken sandpaper to their skin in an effort to smooth out their outer layers. Consequently, they’ve ended up with abrasions all over their face that get infected. That isn’t how professional dermabrasion works.
2. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels improve skin quality and pigmentation. The type of chemical peel depends on the issue you’re addressing — oil control, acne, dark spots, or signs of aging. Overall, it’s a great way to improve the appearance of the skin… if it’s done by a professional.
When people try a DIY chemical peel, the most detrimental mistake is using one that’s too strong. Maybe they order a professional quality product, but underestimate the skill needed to choose the right strength of product and apply it properly. Consequently, they end up burning themselves, sometimes severely, and causing significant, long-lasting damage to their skin.
Other times, people order an at-home kit or use a homemade skin treatment with cucumber, gelatin, or cinnamon. Those peels don’t really do much and only provide minimal results. Why? Liability. A strong, effective product requires a professional, and the manufacturer doesn’t want to risk their consumers getting permanent scars or burned skin from a DIY solution.
3. Popping Zits and Acne
If you don’t mix your own chemical peel or rush to the store to buy sandpaper, maybe you think you’re in the clear from the dangers of DIY skincare treatments. But have you ever popped a pimple? That’s one of the most common DIY fails in skin care — and we’ve all done it. When you squeeze a pimple, very little of the gunk comes out. Most gets pushed deeper into the skin, which makes the problem much worse.
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Sometimes, people get their own extractor to try to remove a plugged-up pore. Again, don’t underestimate the value of a professional plug extraction. When we do extractions in the office, we prepare the skin by using tretinoin (a retinoid product) that opens the skin so the plug is easier to remove.
Now, we know you can’t rush to the doctor every time you have a pimple. So the next best thing to do is… nothing. Leave it alone. It will take care of itself. If you need to do something to that whitehead, just take a small, sterilized pin and prick it. Then don’t touch it. The pus and bacteria will find their way out.
Sure, homemade skincare remedies can seem risk-free and like a good way to save some money, but don’t chance it. If there’s an issue you’re looking to treat, just give us a call, and we’ll schedule a consultation to see what product and treatment will work best for you.
Dr. R. Todd Plott is a board-certified dermatologist in Coppell, Keller, and Saginaw, TX. His specialization and professional interests include treating patients suffering with acne, identifying and solving complex skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and identifying and treating all types of skin cancers. In his spare time, Dr. Plott enjoys cycling, traveling with his wife, and spending time with his children and new grandson.
Learn more about Dr. Plott.