DIY Skincare Ingredients You Should Not Use on Your Face

Using lemon juice on your face for DIY skincare can result in a severe chemical burn, photo noah-buscher-eCJiD00AJqs-unsplash
Using lemon juice on your face can result in a severe chemical burn, photo noah-buscher-eCJiD00AJqs-unsplash

It’s a brand new year and many of us have created resolutions to take better care of our bodies and health. One of these resolutions may include following a new skincare regime. DIY skincare regimes are popular since many natural skincare products are pretty pricey. There are several foods you can put on your face that are great for your skin such as yogourt, avocado, honey. But, according to Dr. Gretchen Frieling, a board-certified Boston-area dermatopathologist, some natural products can cause adverse side effects. Dr. Frieling warns us about some popular DIY skincare ingredients and why you should never put them on your face.

Using lemon juice on your face for DIY skincare can result in a severe chemical burn, photo noah-buscher-eCJiD00AJqs-unsplash
Using lemon juice on your face can result in a severe chemical burn, photo noah-buscher-eCJiD00AJqs-unsplash

Do not use toothpaste to treat acne

Many people swear by treating pimples with toothpaste since toothpaste contains drying ingredients such as baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. While toothpaste may be effective in drying your zits, Dr. Frieling explains, “it can also cause irritation, redness, and even peeling.”  “This is no better than any over-the-counter products,” she adds.

Do not use lemons and limes as toners

You may have seen DIY exfoliators or toners that include lemon juice, but Dr. Frieling advises against putting lemon juice on your face: “Because of its high acidity, lemon juice can disrupt the natural pH levels of your skin leading to irritation and hyperpigmentation.” Another reason to avoid using DIY skincare products with lemon juice, especially outdoors, is citric acid in lemons and limes can cause a “severe chemical burn when exposed to UV rays,” she adds.

Do not use rubbing alcohol to dry acne

Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol cleans wounds and disinfects the skin. It’s also great mixed with water and dish soap for melting the ice on your windshields! If rubbing alcohol is this powerful, it’s not surprising that “repeated exposure to isopropyl alcohol on the face strips the skin of its natural protective barrier, oils, and irritates the skin,” says Dr. Frieling. Although rubbing alcohol removes bacteria, causes of acne breakouts are often deeper than surface bacteria. Instead, use acne products that “target the inner layers of the skin and protect its natural pH levels in ways rubbing alcohol can’t,” says Dr. Frieling.

Do not use baking soda as an exfoliator

Baking soda, which is an alkaline, attempts to neutralize acidity. Dr. Frieling says healthy skin should have a pH level of around 5.5, which is slightly acidic. “Baking soda (a pH of 9) can cause [the outer layer] to break down,” she adds, “leaving the skin vulnerable to bacteria and worsening the condition.” Baking soda is often used as an exfoliator; however, Dr. Frieling does not recommend using baking soda on the face as over-exfoliation causes irritation.

Do not put raw eggs on your face

You have probably seen DIY skincare experts advocating that you use raw eggs on your face. Raw eggs can contain salmonella, which can penetrate the skin via a scratch or unhealed blemish. While egg whites are definitely cheaper than most serums, Dr. Frieling says, “Putting raw egg whites on your face can cause infection, not to mention possible allergic reactions.”

Do not use coconut oil as a moisturizer or cleanser

Coconut oil is a popular food that can give you lustrous hair and it’s also popular to be used in coconut swishing to remove bacteria from gums. Dr. Frieling warns that  “Coconut oil is extremely comedogenic…and…can’t be absorbed into the skin, clogging your pores, and causing more breakouts.” Don’t even use it as a cleanser since “coconut oil leaves a thin layer of film left behind which can suffocate your pores.” adds Dr. Frieling. You should opt for plant-based oils such as Argan oil, which is anti-comedogenic.

Dr. Gretchen Frieling, MD is a Harvard-trained, board-certified Dermatopathologist, with over 10 years of experience in Medicine and Dermatopathology.

You might be interested in reading, “7 Uses for Lemons You Probably Haven’t Heard About“.


  1. The rubbing alcohol..
    Working as a beauty advisor back in the day.this lady used it everyday to wash her face., Her face was omg I can’t even. My friends brother used to bath in it as a wash,when it bubbled he would scrub that part extra. Both a bit of extreme & both weren’t in there right mind.
    My dad did the egg mask, it tightened his skin, he no issues. I
    I don’t use any of the above that you mentioned.
    I am a big k beauty & j beauty fan.

    • Interesting that that lady’s face looked so good after using rubbing alcohol. I know that rubbing alcohol is effective as a disinfectant for skin, but I feel it would be too harsh as a cleanser. I guess eggs are okay as long as they don’t contain salmonella. What k beauty products do you like? Lori

  2. Oh no… She looked horrible & wouldn’t let me show her products that were meant for her face.
    Heck no, would never use it for anything other than a cut. never know if it contains salomella, the chances are slim.
    Body builders drink raw eggs all the time. .
    Oh too many to mentioned.

  3. I use coconut oil on my face, but I don’t have any issues with it. I guess maybe because I don’t use it every single day? It makes sense that it could clog your pores, but like anything else, use it in moderation.

  4. I used to wipe my face daily with alcohol. It definitely does dry your skin and it in all honesty it doesn’t do much for helping with acne anyways.

  5. I do diy’s all the time so this was very informative. I like to use coconut oil on my body and hair but never on my face because it always left it greasy.

  6. Thank you for the heads up. I am totally guilty of putting toothpaste on my pimples when I was younger but later on, found out that it’s totally wrong.

  7. Very good information. I use coconut oil on my hair only. Thankfully, I have not fallen into the trap of using it as a facial moisturizer! I did not know toothpaste could do more harm than good. I have to let my niece know about this because that’s what she uses when she spots a tiny zit on her face.

Comments are closed.