Homemade skin care without the woo?
December 1, 2014 7:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in getting into making some skin care products (lotions, lip balms, maybe soaps) at home but I'm frustrated with the lack of scientific basis/cited sources for many of the recipes that I find online. Is there an Alton Brown/Harold McGee/Shirley Corriher of DIY skin care products?

Before I dive in and buy a whole bunch of ingredients that may not work for me, I'd like to be able to do some research. What I'm finding on the internet is pretty frustrating. Lots of pinterest-pretty pictures of whipped body butters, some of which make vague health claims before veering into nonsense about aromatherapy and "toxins".

Without becoming a dermatologist myself, I'd like to know things like: Is shea butter actually good for skin and why? Is there an actual benefit to the skin of adding Vitamin E oil to a lotion recipe? When does it make sense to DIY, and when should I just buy commercial (sunscreen comes to mind)? If the claims aren't based on experimentation done by the author herself, I'd like links to source material backing up the claims. I understand that everyone's skin is different, but I prefer statements like: "Coconut oil is comedogenic so is likely to clog pores of most skin types," or "I found that adding tea tree oil to this moisturizer dried out my skin too much" to: "Cocoa butter is so nourishing! Why poison your skin with chemicals?"

I know about Paula Begoun's Beautypedia, but that really only covers commercial products and I'm not sure I always agree with her methodology.

What books, blogs, forums or other resources are there that actually examine what really works and why? Actual recipes would be a bonus as well.
posted by sparklemotion to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It doesn't include recipes but The Beauty Bible and Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun include a lot of information on the science behind skin care including details about which ingredients are good and which are bad. Those books might give you the information you need to evaluate the recipes you're finding online.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:34 AM on December 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oops, missed the "more inside" -- I see you already know about Paula Begoun. Well, I still recommend her books, since they go into a lot more detail about good and bad ingredients. IIRC she includes references, or at least she did in the older editions I read years ago.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:35 AM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Paulas Choice a brand by the above mentioned Paula Begoun does regular YouTube videos and while much of there talk is about products from various companies they do talk a lot about making your own skin care products & some of the videos have had good long discussions about honey in skincare, making your own vitamin C serums, even egg whites etc. They talk about both the good & the bad & explain why certain things matter or don't. Unfortunately they don't always do just one video & the info tends to pop up among other subjects they are discussing.
posted by wwax at 8:01 AM on December 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to be clear, I'm ok with subjective and qualitative statements because understanding what works for some people can help me sort out what can work for me. Especially if it's a blog where I can, over time, get a sense for how the author's skin differs from mine.

I just don't want to have to wade through a bunch of "chemicals are evil" nonsense to get there.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:06 AM on December 1, 2014

He might not tell you what's bad, but James Wong is very good at explaining the science behind natural ingredients and why they're good. This book is awesome, I've made several of the things in it.
posted by greenish at 8:30 AM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out the Essential Day Spa forums. Those people are nuts about their skin care but they're quite knowledgeable (some of them) and make their own stuff and do research. I check out their opinions on ingredients all the time.
posted by fshgrl at 8:48 AM on December 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The Lab Muffin blog is pretty good for some of the science (she being a chemist) - here's a link to her DIY stuff.
posted by hydrobatidae at 10:45 AM on December 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

The skincareaddiction subreddit is great. Check the sidebar for a ton of useful info.
posted by zap at 6:41 PM on December 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think you'd find Point of Interest useful.
posted by moira at 8:38 PM on December 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Holy smokes, Point of Interest is amazing and completely overwhelming. That and Lab Muffin are exactly the kind of things that I was looking for -- thank you!
posted by sparklemotion at 3:18 PM on December 2, 2014

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