12/01/2007

DIY Skin Care: Save Money and Actually Improve Your Skin

For years, we've been DIY'ing...our bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Italian plaster and wood flooring from Home Depot, designer fixtures from Tuesday Morning, luxury cabinets from Lowe's, Talavera tile from a local importer (may be specific to Santa Fe--but I doubt it). We're willing to spend more time to save money.

I ask you: why don't we practice this same frugal practicality when it comes to our skin care? We've just handed over our precious beauty to so-called experts. Seriously, do we really trust those famous, celebrity-endorsed "dermatologists" to formulate our most beloved skin care products? Apparently, we do--or least we have for the last decade or so. Not only do we trust them to treat our skin--gasp, our dear faces--but we pay them plenty to do it. I mean, what is up with $500 serum and $1000 skin cream? And the best part? It seem there's always one more to buy: the next generation, the newest active ingredient...it's like we're addicts, and we are hooked, Folks.

What's more, those crazy expensive face concoctions don't do anything terribly special for your skin...and they sure as hell don't contain any magic ingredients.

Really. Is this the best we can do? I don't think so. Did you know that you can purchase the same stuff the experts do...and mix it up yourself? Usually for less than $50?

The trick with DIY skin care: 1. start slowly using small amounts of the 'active' ingredients, 2. don't fall into the trap of thinking "a little is good, so a whole lot more is better." (you wouldn't add more latex to your wall paint, would you? okay, maybe not the best example, but you get the point) 3. follow the instructions. Period.

There are plenty of sites that offer simple bases and actives that you can mix into them. But the best DIY skin care sellers offer good instructions and lots of resources--and many of them have terrific forums or message boards where 'recipes' are posted and clients share what works (for their skin type or condition) and what doesn't.

From lovely base creams and gels to nutrient-rich, anti-oxidant, anti-aging, acne-fighting active ingredients--the exact same ones found in minute quantities in those $1000 creams--DIY skin care providers offer it all.

I've been mixing my own skin care for a little over one year. When I started, I made the mistake that all newbie DIY'ers make (I'm a little hard-headed--and, oh yes, I know EVERYTHING. Don't you?), and mixed EVERY active I could--mass quantities, no less--into one 'fix-all' recipe. I got away with this...for a little while. Then, I ended up with a nasty case of contact dermatitis. Ooops. Well, I learned my lesson (and fixed my problem with many of the same ingredients I'd overdosed on).

Henceforth, I mix my 'magic' concoctions with restrained diligence. My wallet (and my hubbie) are thankful for DIY skin care. And my skin has never looked better nor younger. Plus, I can adjust the mix to suit whatever my skin needs (this comes as you become more advanced as a DIY'er--please do not attempt to self-diagnose your skin problems).

Here are a few of my favorite DIY skin care proffers...
  • Skin Actives Scientific (www.skinactives.com) - Affordable selection of the best ingredients, knowledgeable team, top-notch service, quick and cheap shipping
  • Somerset Cosmetics (www.makingcosmetics.com) - easy-to-navigate, great recipes, skin care and makeup. The Resources section is a must read for any DIY'er.
  • Platinum Skincare (www.platinumskincare.com) - Exceptional glycolics, sun screens and skin-healing concoctions. Plus, they offer children-specific skin care products. Platinum is a little less about 'do it yourself' and more focused on treating skin conditions.
  • The Personal Formulator (thepersonalformulator.com) - Nice selection, complete downloadable catalog, backed by a reputable cosmetics lab.
Tips for skin care DIY'ers:
  1. Don't be afraid to experiment
  2. Take great care in writing your mixtures and recipes
  3. Read all instructions (yes, I'm repeating this for those readers who, like me, may feel they know what's best--trust me, you don't when it comes to mixing stuff with active ingredients--at least not for awhile)
  4. And for goodness sakes, have fun!
P.S. These little homemade gems make really great gifts...and you can completely customize them for the recipient. Think about it: Mom gets the special 'anti-aging' cream, Sis gets the anti-oxidant serum, and Dad gets the 'all-in-one' cleanser/toner/moisturizer/protectant

P.P.S. Look for Elle magazine's upcoming feature on DIY skin care.