If you’re stuck at home and an appointment with your favorite dermatologist or aesthetician seems like a very far-off possibility, then it makes sense you may be considering an at-home beauty treatment. Whether that means trying your hand at the things you usually leave to the pros (things like extractions or dermaplaning) or whipping up a combination of some ingredients in your pantry for a treatment, there are a lot of things to consider before doing so.
The first thing to keep in mind with any new beauty treatment or product is that if you have a reaction, it may be less comfortable, safe, or accessible to go to your usual doctor or dermatologist for a quick fix. The second is that there is a reason people pay beauty professionals, and part of that reason is because they're trained in proper sterilization and technique. Odds are, you aren’t trained in either of those things.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some at-home beauty treatments that are worth it. As Ann Mari Ann Marie Cilmi, VP of education and innovation for Facehaus points out, “There are a plethora of safe DIY treatments that can be made using a wide range of pantry ingredients but you must be careful, sometimes the wrong combination can cause more harm than good.”
Curious about which treatments you should flat-out avoid, though? Here’s what the experts say.
New York City-based Dr. Debra Jaliman is a board-certified dermatologist who says that she never recommends anyone try an at-home chemical peel, explaining that a peel actually removes the outer layer of skin during the procedure. While a 10-30% of acid is normal in a peel, Dr. Jaliman says you should always start on the lower side—if not, the results could be bad.
“I don’t recommend people do at-home peels. Some are safe and have low concentration of acids, however, some people go online and purchase peels that are way too strong,” Dr. Jaliman says. “Some people go online and buy the actual acids and think they can watch a YouTube video and apply the peel. I warn anyone against doing that… you run the risk of burning your skin. An at-home DIY peel should be a superficial peel. One that only sloughs off the top layer of your skin without damaging it."
Blackhead Or Cyst Extractions
Have a stubborn blackhead or cyst that is driving you nuts? You might want to wait a second or two before you try to extract it yourself—no matter how many episodes of Dr. Pimple Popper you’ve seen.
“Extracting milia and cysts have been popularized by television shows and YouTube,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Zain Husain says. “You need to be careful when performing these procedures as you can lead to more inflammation and even infection if performed incorrectly or in unhygienic settings. Sometimes serious scarring can result.”
As Climi says, “You are not Dr. Sandra Lee!”
Microneedling is one of the trendier skincare treatments of the past few years. Because of its popularity, there are more at-home microneedling tools than ever. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use them right away, Dr. Husain explains.
“Home micro-needling devices can cause scarring or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” Dr. Husain says, explaining that the experience of using one is entirely “use-dependent,” meaning that things can easily go wrong. “I would highly recommend having the treatment done in the office by a medical professional. The motorized microneedling devices are more precise, standardized and when performed by an experienced physician or healthcare worker, provide better results and are safer.”
Sure, it might mean you have to wait a while for the treatment, but that is a much better outcome than dealing with hyperpigmentation or scarring.
Any Type Of Dermal Filler
It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating: Do not try to give yourself fillers at home. Ever.
“There have been reports of people buying dermal fillers online and injecting themselves for aesthetic purposes. This is a very bad idea as you are not even certain what product you are receiving, especially since many are coming from overseas,” Dr. Husain says, noting that there can be serious consequences to this, like infection, nerve damage, skin necrosis, and even blindness. “You should only go to trained medical professionals such as board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons for these types of procedures.”
Skin Tag Removals
Have a pesky skin tag that you’re considering taking off? The idea might sound cringe-worthy to most people, but Dr. Husain explains that it’s more common than you might think—and also a really, really bad idea.
“There are skin tag removal kits online that people have used to remove skin tags by strangulating their bases,” Dr. Husain explains, saying that it’s never safe to do this in an unhygienic setting. “Furthermore, it is important that the lesions be evaluated to determine whether there are skin tags in the first place. As a Mohs surgeon, I have seen cases in which a lesion that looked very similar to a skin tag ended up being skin cancer that needed to be removed surgically.”
Another popular beauty trend (in both the skin are and makeup realms) is dermaplaning, which is the practice of using a fine razor blade to slough dead skin and peach fuzz off the face. While doing this at home is, of course, less risky than injecting yourself with fillers or applying a strong chemical peel, it is still something best left to the professionals, says Dr. Husain.
“It requires skill and experience to avoid superficial cuts and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Go to a trained medical professional for this treatment for optimal results and lower risk of superficial abrasions,” Dr. Husain says.
That said, there are devices that are easier and safer to maneuver than a straight razor, like Dermaflash's Anti-Aging Dermaplaning Exfoliation Device. It's designed to be safe, unlike the options you can get in packs of five online. Just make sure you're fully dialed into the directions and precautions before use.
Anything That Involves Glue (Peels, Extractions, Etc.)
You’ve probably seen the videos of people using glue (or mixtures that include glue) to remove or “pull out” blackheads. Do not do this. It’s not worth it.
“Even though certain brands of glue are non-toxic, it should not be used on the skin to get rid of blackheads. The glue was not made to be applied to the skin, so there can be many side effects due to improper usage,” Dr. Husain says. “Glue can adhere too strongly onto your face leaving it irritated and inflamed and more likely for pores to be clogged since they are opened from the peel.”
If you’re wondering what the heck you can do to your skin at home, there are a few expert-approved DIY treatments that might actually make a difference. Dr. Jaliman suggests an at-home face scrub to possibly fade any dark spots.