DIY Skincare Joys and Mistakes

Today we take a light-hearted look at DIY mistakes, but also bring home some important things to remember if you are on the DIY path. The  seeds of Ayr Skin Care began almost 20 years ago, and much of it was begun in DIY projects, and basic curiosity, but then blossomed into formalized education. If you are on the DIY path for solutions for your skin care needs, I have been there too, and hope some of my experiences may help you. Read on to hear some of the adventures of pre-Ayr Skin Care days.

The year was 2001, and after years with skin care itches, acne and other skin ailments, I was frustrated beyond belief and ready to take action. I am sure many of you have been there. You go to the store to buy something like a face cream, and are overwhelmed by the seemingly endless lists of chemical ingredients of which you know nothing. Which are safe? Which are potentially either dangerous or just too aggressive for your sensitive skin? That was where I was. The only thing I figured that I could do is dial my skin care way back to the basics. I needed to cleanse, moisturize and protect at a minimum. How much trouble could it be to look online for solutions that I could make myself?

The Good and Bad of the Internet

So, the good news is that almost anything you can imagine, someone already has, and it is on the internet. The bad news is that if you don’t understand what you are looking at, you can get into serious problems, especially when dealing with cosmetics and skin care. Not everyone who posts skin care recipes online knows the science behind them. This is the most dangerous part of the journey….trying to weed out the truth from the people who sound like they know what they are doing.

Here are some potential issues in dabbling in DIY skincare:

Preservatives and Bacterial Growth

Everything containing water, hydrosols or plant liquids, fresh plant materials (which contain naturally occurring water) like aloe, rose petals etc., has to be preserved. This includes honey. Now, I thought I had figured this one out…honey, after all, was preserved in Egyptian tombs…it is self-preserving. The problem is that once it is mixed with anything containing water, this no longer is true.

When I first began dipping my toes into the DIY realm, I wanted more than anything to create things like facial toners and masks that included wonderful ingredients like honey, rose water, glycerin, cucumber hydrosol and other water based ingredients. I wanted to make masks with pureed pumpkin and lemon and strawberries. All of these things are beneficial for the skin, and all are possible to make yourself, in fact I encourage you to do so…..just make them for a single use, and throw the rest away, do not attempt to keep them (even in the refrigerator) for another use.

It is tempting when creating a facial mask to think that you can save half to use tomorrow, but bacteria and mold start growing within a very short time after fresh ingredients are mixed together. Microscopic “bugs” love fresh fruits, fruit juices, and plant matter…it is like laying out a buffet for them. Just don’t be tempted to keep any extra face mask or toner, and you can rest assured that you can create wonderful homemade recipes and just use them once, and toss the rest... If, however, you wish to actually keep some of what you have made, or give it out as gifts, you will have to learn to create an actual formula, and use a preservative mix that will cover gram negative and positive bacteria, mold and yeast.

IMPORTANT REMINDER : Vitamin E and rosemary extract are antioxidants, not preservatives. They are oil based, and oil does not mix with water, nor do these antioxidants protect your formulas from bacteria and mold. Water based preservatives are necessary for water based products, and vitamin E and rosemary extract may be used only to extend the life of 100% pure oil mixtures!

DIY Sunscreen

Yes, you can try to make your own sunscreen with zinc oxide and other ingredients to form a protective barrier for your skin. I strongly recommend NOT doing so!! Before I furthered my education in the science of formulation, I played with DIY sunscreen recipes, until I read further into how professional labs create sunscreen. This is one thing you do not want to mess with. For sunscreen to cover all of the skin effectively, the ingredients have to be thoroughly mixed with the right emulsification equipment and this is just not possible in the DIY environment. Without the proper formula and equipment, holes are formed in the SPF coverage, which allow the UV rays to come through to the skin. Look under a microscope, and homemade sunscreen leaves holes. It is very dangerous to think this will sufficiently cover you or your children, and is best left to professional labs. This was one of the number one things that I wanted to replace naturally in my routine, but with research, I found some more natural sunscreen companies, and I buy my own sunscreen now.

Long story short, you need to buy your own sunscreen. Try to get it as natural as possible, and wear a hat, glasses, and if you wish, look for those long-sleeved outdoor pieces that help cover the body with UV blocking fabric. Limiting the time that you are in the sun is your best bet for keeping the sunscreen issue at bay. Do not make it yourself.

DIY Body Scrub

So, What Can You Make Safely at Home?

As stated above, you can easily  make face masks with fresh produce, honey or homemade rose water, etc., just as long as you only make a single serving, use it and throw away the balance. What else can you make at home, however, that you could give out as gifts without fear of bacteria? The easiest thing to give out as gifts are salt scrubs for the bath, homemade soap (If you are eager to learn how to make it, there are many tutorials online), Bath salts for the bathtub, bath melts (oils and butters that have been refrigerated into shapes) or  dry clay masks. All of these can be created without water or preservatives, and used or given as gifts in a cute container. Combining different clays, for example, is a nice way to give gifts to a number of people at the holidays. You buy bulk clays and cute containers and label them, and when your friend receives the clay, they remove a small portion and put it into a separate container, add water, yogurt or coconut milk (for example) and create their own single use mask. By keeping the liquid to a single use in a separate bowl, the dry clay can keep for some time in its own container.

My Biggest Joy in DIY

Like many people, I began DIY projects in skin care back in those days because I was desperate for an answer to my skin care problems. I was unhappy, and I was also creative, so the answer seemed to be to make things myself. Back in my 30s I was able to study essential oils, learn the properties of carrier oils like jojoba, argan oil, and others, and make some wonderful facial oils. I used to give them as gifts, and people loved them. I was careful to research the amount of vitamin E to add to work as an antioxidant and keep the oils from getting rancid. One of the happiest days of my life was when I first created my own facial oil blend. I used it religiously, gave it as gifts, and loved the process of learning the different properties of oils and essential oils. This worked for me for about ten years, until I approached menopause, my skin changed, and oils no longer gave me the moisture that my skin required. It was then that I began researching cosmetic chemistry classes around the world and taking courses to further my education.

Picture of a brown eye with flaking mascara

My Biggest Mistake in DIY

At one point, I was making every single personal care item, including deodorant, facial oils, soaps, bath products and powdered makeup. The problem arose when I started to make mascara. I remember how proud I was running about the house in the mascara. I had purchased tubes, because I was sure I was going to be making a ton of this stuff, and within an hour it had melted and I looked like a raccoon! Afterwards, I also realized that I had not preserved it. The dish that I made it in, was left in my kitchen sink (to be honest, I was so disappointed in my failure, that I didn’t even want to look at the dish!!). The next day I went in to do the dishes and already saw mold growing on the dish. Another failure, yes…a good lesson, absolutely!

You Are Not Alone

If you have “problem skin” or sensitive skin, or hormonal skin, you are not alone. An estimated 75% of women in pre-menopause, or post-menopause deal with skin that is drier, more easily irritated, or completely different from the skin that they had in their 40’s. If your skin has changed, due to menopause or hormones from childbirth, or changes in your skin care routine, you are not alone. When I began this company a few years ago, the one goal that I had was to make effective anti-aging products that addressed the changing skin of women, with as few irritants as possible. There is no “one size fits all” in skin care, as we all have unique skin, but Ayr Skin Care has a goal to try to help people care for their skin as it ages. We do that by selecting the most natural ingredients, safest preservatives and using airless containers to keep the preservatives more natural, and safer for a longer period of time. We choose fair trade, organic and natural ingredients to create products for sensitive and changing skin. Every product that I create in my lab is seeded by the same desire that DIY started in my heart almost 20 years ago: to make products that solved a problem and were good for the skin. Only now, it is enhanced by the years of formulation trial and error and cosmetic chemistry education. We do the research and work for you, so you can rest assured you are using the best possible products to help support healthy, beautiful skin.

Bye for now!

Kirsten, xx



If you have any questions or comments, we would be happy to answer you personally! Please contact us at