A dermatologist shares some of her favorite recipes for natural skincare "products" made from pantry staples.

By Stacey Leasca
Updated September 10, 2019
Credit: Getty Images/Anna-Ok

Self-care and a consistent skincare routine are must-haves for glowing, healthy skin. To cleanse away the day and prep for the one ahead, many of us head to the bathroom to primp with an endless array of beauty products. But there may be an even better skincare option hiding right in your kitchen.

That’s right, getting a spa-grade facial doesn't require any chemical-laden products. Instead, Gretchen Frieling, MD, a board-certified dermatopathologist and CEO of GFaceMD, says it’s absolutely possible to whip up a quick skincare recipe from a few basics in your refrigerator or pantry. Here’s everything you need to treat your skin to natural ingredients you already know and love.

Dr. Frieling says it’s entirely possible to exfoliate, cleanse, and nourish your skin with items from the kitchen. To be prepared, always have a few key ingredients handy. This includes an exfoliating agent, a few soothing ingredients, as well as a creamy rehydrating item (that may surprise you).

“These elements are at the base of any effective and relaxing facial,” she says. “It is essential, however, that you observe your skin condition to determine what products you will be using.”

The Best Natural Ingredients to Use on Your Skin

Brown Sugar

For an exfoliant, Dr. Frieling says a great at-home ingredient is brown sugar. “It’s granulated, but not harsh on the skin, and works for nearly every skin type,” she says. “Although people with extremely sensitive skin who may be prone to redness and irritation might want to opt for an ingredient with a more powdered consistency.”

Coconut Oil

Dr. Frieling says to create your exfoliating mixture with brown sugar and coconut oil as a base. “Coconut oil is also a fan favorite,” she says. “If you’re not prone to acne, you can experiment with lavender oil or castor oil as well. But virgin coconut oil is the best option for soothing irritated, dry skin.” To make your mixture even more luxurious, she suggests adding essential oils, tea herbs from a tea bag, or even all-natural honey.

All-Natural Honey (and Oats)

Natural honey, Dr. Frieling explains, is good for just about every beauty routine because it’s extremely hydrating, soothing, and antibacterial. Honey is also surprisingly ideal for oily skin.

But, if you’re worried about clogging your pores, Dr. Frieling suggests concocting a honey and oat mask to absorb excess oil and grime. And, as a bonus, those oats will gently exfoliate the skin.

The Best Natural Ingredients for Hair and Scalp

Because you can’t forgo a skincare routine on your head, Dr. Frieling suggests gently massaging a bit of tea tree oil, castor oil, coconut oil, or pure aloe vera gel into the scalp.

“Aloe vera gel is incredibly soothing and anti-inflammatory,” she says. “It helps hydrate the scalp and follicles.”

What Not to Use on Your Skin

Though you may like a spicy kick to your meals, Dr. Frieling says you “should avoid experimenting with spices like cumin or cayenne powder, as those may irritate the skin.”

The Most Essential Natural Beauty and Skincare Tricks

Dr. Frieling also stresses how important it is to remember that our bodies replenish from the inside out.

“What we eat and how we hydrate has a lot to do with our skin, and all the operations it undergoes daily like synthesizing collagen, healing scars and wounds, replenishing dead skin cells, and forming melanin can be affected if we are not adequately hydrated,” she says. “Vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition can also affect the rate and severity with which we age.”

As she adds, people tend to overcomplicate nutrition. Instead of going on a fad diet, Dr. Frieling says it’s vital to just stick to a healthy routine. That includes staying hydrated, eating mostly fruits and vegetables, and adding some protein into your nutrition plan.

The best thing for beauty, according to Dr. Frieling? This one has nothing to do with what you put on your face: Get enough sleep.