Self-Care on a Budget: 4 Easy Skincare DIYs I've Used for Years


Saleam Singleton

Meet Byrdie Boy and The Method Male creator Saleam T. Singleton. Each month, he'll be covering beauty topics through the lens of self-care and culture.

Let's face it—with our current situation, we're going to have to find creative ways to approach self-care and beauty. We don't know how long we'll be inside our homes. Even when that's over (and this will pass), it may take some time for finances to stabilize. Some of our favorite brands, services, and retailers are closed for the foreseeable future. Many companies currently have restrictions on shipping and inventory. There's certainly hope for the future, and we all look forward to much better days, but affordability and convenience have taken on a new level of importance. DIY treatments are a great alternative and supplement to your regularly scheduled regime. I started on Instagram doing DIY skincare videos, so I've had the opportunity to experiment and learn new things over the past few years. 

But in the case of DIY skincare, there are dos and don'ts. I spoke with esthetician and Byrdie Advisory Board member JoElle Lee, who has been practicing on multicultural skin for over 20 years and works with numerous celebrities (she also happens to be Michelle Obama's former personal esthetician—no big deal). I was pleasantly surprised to find that she loves DIY beauty as much as I do. "I am a big fan," she tells me. "I believe this was the very foundation and beginning of the skincare industry. Great lines and products that some of us use today started with someone experimenting in their kitchen." She swears by a Greek yogurt mask and ingredients like honey that have proven soothing and antibacterial benefits. Before you go slathering your kitchen pantry on your face, however, make sure you're either diluting certain ingredients or taking into account stability. "I used raw apple cider vinegar on my skin once and didn't mix it with anything," Lee tells me. "It was too acidic and it caused me to have major breakouts. So I wouldn't use 100% raw apple cider vinegar on the skin." Another ingredient she says to avoid are raw eggs, unless you can use them immediately. "I wouldn't recommend leaving it for days in a jar, for risk of exposure to bacteria and foodborne pathogens." she explains. If you're thinking of trying a DIY recipe, don't overdo it—Lee says that adding an exfoliating treatment or mask to your regimen once or twice a week is the perfect amount.

Below, you'll find her advice and personal DIY favorites, along with some of my go-to DIY recipes, too. With all the time in the world, it's the perfect moment to experiment with a homemade beauty routine. All recipes include ingredients found in most grocery stores and most might even be in your kitchen already.

Bentonite Turmeric Mask

This remix of the classic clay mask can be used to treat breakouts, oily skin, and gently exfoliate. Bentonite clay is known for its detoxifying properties, though it can be a bit drying for those with dry or sensitive skin. Turmeric helps to even skin tone, brighten, and further treat breakouts. 


  • Natural calcium bentonite clay powder (1/4 cup)
  • Turmeric powder (1-2 teaspoons) 
  • Pure rosewater or rosewater toner (desired amount)


  1. Combine mixture using a nonmetal bowl and utensils.
  2. Apply in several thin layers with a brush.
  3. Let the mask dry for 15-20 minutes (or longer).
  4. Rinse with warm water.

Yogurt Mask

Yogurt rejuvenates and hydrates your skin because it contains lactic acid, which gets rid of dead skin cells. This mask can be used to renew dry post-winter skin. Honey and oatmeal help to add much needed moisture and gentle exfoliation. 

"I love doing Greek yogurt masks—I've even made a YouTube video about it," says Lee. "I don't know if it's the natural probiotics or lactic acid in it, but my skin feels so exfoliated and smooth afterwards and my complexion is glowing and bright. I also add a little olive oil for a moisturizing effect."


  • Plain Greek yogurt (1/4 cup)
  • Raw honey (2 tablespoons) 
  • Rolled oats (1 tablespoon ground)


  1. Mix ingredients in a blender if possible (I use my trusty Magic Bullet).
  2. Gently apply to the skin with a brush.
  3. Let the mask dry for 20 mins.
  4. Gently rinse with lukewarm water.

Dr. Michele Farber recommends using smaller-sized oats as as larger size pieces may cause sensitivity or micro tears in the skin.

Charcoal Manuka Honey Mask

Activated charcoal naturally draws out impurities and keeps your skin balanced by helping to unclog pores. However, it should be used with caution if you have sensitive skin. "Honey is an excellent antibacterial agent, so it would be great for the treatment of acne, especially if your skin is also dry with breakouts," Lee says. "Honey also has moisturizing and soothing benefits and is filled with antioxidants that could aid in slowing down the aging process, while providing overall hydration." Manuka honey contains higher antibacterial properties than regular honey, which makes it perfect for acne-prone skin. 


  • Activated charcoal powder (2 tablespoons)
  • Manuka Honey (1/8 cup)


  1. Apply generously with a soft brush.
  2. Let the mask sit for no more than 20 minutes.
  3. Rinse gently with warm water (be careful—it gets messy but rinses easily from skin and surfaces).

Iced Green Tea Facial

Ice can reduce inflammation and the appearance of acne. It's also great for face and eye puffiness, and tightening pores. Green tea is a natural antioxidant; it's also anti-inflammatory. 


  • Loose green tea (about 1 teabag or 1 tablespoon)
  • Vitamin E Gel (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Pure rosewater or rosewater toner (desired amount)


  1. Brew tea and let cool.
  2. Combine ingredients into an ice tray and freeze. 
  3. Rub ice cube onto your face in circular motions (don’t forget under your eyes).
  4. Use the whole ice cube, and let your skin air dry. You can also gently tap your face as it dries to bring oxygen to your skin.

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