When I first got into DIYing I quickly got very excited about all the things I could make—lip balms, lotions, body butters, oh my! I went through my house with new eyes, looking for things I could possibly replace with new, homemade versions. It was positively intoxicating! Anywho, I thought we could take a moment to talk about the sorts of things you shouldn’t DIY—because while it can be fun to try and DIY everything, it’s not always a good idea. Let’s stay safe and smart when we DIY 😊
I’ve written an entire post on this. You should definitely read it, but the general gist of it is “don’t”. LabMuffin also has a wonderful video on this topic, including addressing the myth that some homemade sunscreen is better than no sunscreen.
Anything that’s supposed to bleach anything on your body
Yes, I do get recipe requests for skin bleaching things—this is not a thing you should ever DIY. The potential to give yourself a chemical burn is far too high. (Brightening/helping fade hyper pigmentation/evening out the complexion is different from bleaching—I’m talking bleaching!)
Super strong versions of store bought things
If a 1% store bought retinol product is highly effective, wouldn’t a 10% DIY’ed version be even better? Please do your research with this sort of thing—active ingredients have recommended doses to balance efficacy and the potential for irritation. Stronger versions are often prescription only so you’re under professional care if you use them.
Things that need to be sterile
Where sterility is important, DIY is not a great option. Things like contact lens solutions, sterile saline solutions, etc.
High strength chemical peels
The potential for high concentration AHA/BHA peels to be extremely irritating or damaging is quite high; I’d leave this to the professionals. Salicylic acid (BHA) poisoning is also a possibility with higher concentrations over large parts of the body (source, source).
Please don’t make anything for your genitals—feminine washes, vaginal douches, anal bleaching creams. Those are very sensitive bits of your body. Your vagina doesn’t need douching, and your chocolate starfish is lovely as it is.
If you find a recipe out there purporting to be a miracle remedy or cure, give it a miss. If it was truly miraculous it wouldn’t be out on the internet for free. I’ve found recipes surrounded with this level of hyperbole are almost always Pinterest-style concoctions starring home ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, turmeric, honey, mouth wash, shaving gel, and perhaps copious quantities of garlic with next to nothing in the way of actual evidence to suggest it could ever work. Save your Listerene and don’t bother.
If you have (or suspect you may have) a medical condition that requires the attention of a physician, please seek the attention of a physician. I have had people ask me for DIY solutions for everything from melanoma to serious looking infections (with attached photographs)—I am not a doctor, y’all!
Stuff that’s technically possible, apparently, because LUSH says they did it
LUSH ingredient lists often look like a recipe for fruit salad or a smoothie, claiming the inclusion of fresh fruit and veg and all kinds of other ingredients that are known to be total preservation nightmares. I have no idea how they’re doing it, but if you purée some strawberries and stir them into your lotion that’s not going to end well (unless you wanted to create a mould colony, in which case—success!). Boo, I know. It sounds so dang lovely.
Essential oil heavy stuff for babies
Tisserand’s essential oil dosing suggestions for babies are very low. 0.1% for up to 3 months, 0.25% for 3–24 months, and 1% for 2–6 years. Those are still very general recommendations, though—the specifics of the essential oils you want to use must also be accounted for. So, in general, I’d recommend not using products containing essential oils on babies unless you really know what you’re doing.
And some soft ones…
Sudsy stuff for machines
I won’t be DIYing anything sudsy that goes in my dishwasher or washing machine—I’m concerned about a massive bubbly explosion. Plus, I don’t think I know anything close to enough about surfactants and laundry and cleansing to create something that cleans and rinses out really well, preventing build up and generally gunky clothes over time. I’d feel unbelievably wretched if I released a recipe that resulted in somebody inadvertently ruining an entire load of laundry or needing to replace a $1k washing machine. (Also, I rent and as such do not own the appliances and do not want to destroy the floor by accident.)
OK! There’s my list—did I forget anything?