When you’re inundated by skincare brands and products that claim to be your best option, it is fair to wish for simple solutions that promise to solve your issues in the most natural way possible—using ingredients from your kitchen. DIY skincare seems safe. After all, your grandmother has been relying on her aloe vera & cucumber juice face mask recipe for years. While it might be an attractive prospect, and may even feel like the cleaner way, it leaves too much to chance. If you’re mixing things up in your kitchen in lieu of well-formulated skincare products, you could be playing too fast and loose. Here’s why.

It can mess with your skin’s pH and moisture barrier

A coconut oil and sugar scrub sounds like the perfect idea, but may take a no-prisoners-approach to your skin instead. Sugar particles are all different sizes and shapes, and the sharp edges may cause micro-tears in your skin. This may actually cause you to over-exfoliate without realising. Coconut oil is highly comedogenic. So while you might be using it to brighten skin, it can clog pores and cause breakouts in the long run.

Lemon—another DIY favourite—could damage your skincare barrier instead of fortify it. The skin has an acid mantle, which helps seal in moisture and keep skin firm. When it deviates too much from its median, the skin can get irritated. This can lead to acne, irritation and pigmentation. Lemon juice is super acidic (with a pH of 2) and can alter the skin’s pH, which is usually between 4-5, which–when messed with—can take a lot of TLC to nurse back to health.

You can’t trust the source of your ingredients

It is nothing like pharmaceutical-grade Vitamin C, which is formulated at a pH that won’t damage the skin. The neutralised ingredient is measured out and stabilized (and tested and then re-tested in a lab). This ensures that it won’t burn, sting or irritate the skin. It is also tested to make sure it works efficiently in that concentration or housed in that packaging. This is unlike a lemon from the grocery store, that could be non-organic or lying on the shelf for days. Even if the skincare product is using filtered lemon juice extracts, it’s in a well-researched high concentration to ensure efficacy.

Fruits and vegetables aren’t shelf-stable

Preservatives and parabens may sometimes get a bad rap. But they actually play a super important role in making topical skincare products safe, stable and actually effective. If you’re using eggs to mattify your skin or yoghurt to moisturise, you could inadvertently be introducing bacteria to your skin instead. They’re more perishable than you might assume.

Natural doesn’t have to mean better, safer or more effective

Consumers can sometimes fear the unknown, like ingredients they can’t read or pronounce (like niacinamide, glycosphingolipids and polyhydroxy acids). But these are high quality ingredients that do exactly what they promise to do, thanks to research and lab-testing. Plus, it is important to note that even in “natural” skincare products, ingredients have to be processed to make them safe enough to be bottled. Synthetic ingredients, on the other hand, are made in the lab to mimic these natural ingredients. These have any possible allergens or additions filtered out. Poison ivy is natural, but you don’t want it anywhere near your face, ever.

It is important to note that skincare is not a one-size-fits-all, and the aloe vera + apple cider vinegar + mashed banana + peach mask that works to brighten your friends skin? It might totally backfire on you (or it might just not work at all!). Instead, do your homework. Read ingredient lists, research labels and hold skincare brands that have done the research, work and due diligence accountable. This is how you can get what you really signed up for. If you need help creating a skincare routine from scratch, read our guide

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