Alright, let’s face it: Unless you’re Benjamin Button or have access to a Back to the Future time machine, you’re going to age—not that that’s a bad thing (it sure beats the alternative). But thanks to the advanced formulas crafted from and perfected by the dermatologist and scientist gods, beauty products like retinols and chemical peels can help combat the fine lines, rough texture, and discoloration that comes with, well, being a living, breathing human. And while you’ve probably already flirted with a few retinol creams, oils, and serums by now (because there are currently, like, thousands flooding the market), have you ever considered taking matters into your own hands—or rather, your kitchen? Yes, we’re talking anti-aging DIYs, and yes, they actually work.
Hey, as much as we love the laboratory-made products in our medicine cabinets, we’d also be cool with ditching the monthly expense and making some shockingly effective anti-aging DIYs in the comfort of our homes. And though nothing can truly be as effective as retinol, a lot of the products in your fridge and pantry are actually incredibly effective at softening dry skin, plumping fine lines, and exfoliating blah, dull complexions, as long as you know what to use—and what to avoid.
Which is where Ava Shamban, MD, dermatologist and DIY aficionado, comes in. “DIYs have been used for centuries, most notably by Cleopatra,” Shamban says of the original beauty guru. “She didn’t have a chemist; she had a kitchen.” Of course, it’s 2017, not 50 BC, and Cleopatra didn’t have to contend with pages and pages of dangerous, poorly formulated Pinterest DIYs that are filled with skin-irritating ingredients. So we got Shamban to tell us her four favorite anti-aging DIYs that actually work without harming your skin, and, spoiler alert, all of the ingredients you need are probably already in your pantry. So embrace your inner Cleopatra and give ’em a try—you might just swear off your store-bought products for good. Well, maybe.
This fruit does so much more than just tasting ridiculously good on toast—it’s also “an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and a moisturizer,” says Shamban. And, when combined with fine-line smoothing coconut oil, a dab of Greek yogurt (a core ingredient in almost all of Shamban’s DIYs, thanks to its skin-softening and collagen-boosting alpha-hydroxy acids), and a bit of honey (which is packed with damage-fighting antioxidants), you’ve got an anti-aging all star.
1/2 of an avocado, peeled and pitted
1 tablespoon of unflavored, sugar-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork to evenly mash up and mix in the avocado, then smooth a thick layer of the mask over your clean, dry skin. Leave on for 20 minutes, or as Shamban suggests, “long enough for you to look through your Facebook feed.”
This DIY doesn’t just clean your face—it gently exfoliates to subtly brighten skin over time. “It’s like a smoothie for your skin,” says Shamban. Not only do papaya enzymes act as fruit-acid peel, naturally removing dead skin cells for brighter skin, but the antioxidant-packed grape seeds help protect your face from wrinkle-causing free radicals. And, if your skin is acne-prone or extra oily, Shamban suggests adding a bit of witch hazel to the cleanser for a dose of blackhead-reducing antiseptic.
½ of a papaya, peeled and de-seeded
3 tablespoons of witch hazel (found at most drugstores)
15 dark grapes with seeds
2 tablespoons of unflavored, sugar-free Greek yogurt
After removing all seeds and skin from the papaya, scoop it into a blender and add in the rest of the ingredients, blending until totally smooth. Remove your makeup, then pour a quarter-size drop of the cleanser onto a damp wash cloth. Gently massage the cleanser into your skin for 30 seconds, then rinse with warm water. Follow with your usual moisturizer. PRO TIP: Shamban suggests following with a quick, DIY chamomile and rosewater toner to rehydrate skin and plump up fine lines. Using a full blossom of chamomile—or two chamomile tea bags, if you aren’t near your own personal botanical garden—brew a quarter cup and add in two tablespoons of rosewater. Pour the liquid into a mister and lightly spray over face post-cleansing. Keep refrigerated for one week, max.
OATMEAL AND SUNFLOWER SEED FACE SCRUB
This oatmeal-based face scrub sounds intense, but it’s actually gentle enough to use on face, neck, and even your lips (you still need to avoid the eye area, though). “Sunflower seeds are packed with super-hydrating oils that moisturize the skin while literally scrubbing away all the dead skin that dulls complexions,” says Dr. Shamban. Mix that with zit-fighting honey (which has natural antibiotic properties) and antioxidant-rich honey, and some gentle oats, and your blah, crepey skin will look crazy hydrated and plump.
1 tablespoon of oats
1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons of unflavored, sugar-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon of warm honey
In a blender, grind the oats and the sunflower seeds until finely milled—you don’t want any harsh edges scratching your skin. Dump the mixture into a small bowl, then add in the remaining ingredients, mixing until relatively thick and scrub-like. Gently (promise us you’ll be gentle!) massage the scrub into wet, cleansed skin, moving in concentric circles, then wash off and follow with your favorite moisturizer.
CALENDULA AND GREEN TEA MOISTURIZER
Yes, you’re pretty much making your own moisturizer here, but don’t worry—the recipe calls for a base cream to start you off, so you won’t need to build a lab in your kitchen, first. Shamban recommends using the ultra-gentle, cult-favorite Vanicream as a base, then mixing in redness-reducing green tea, anti-inflammatory calendula oil, the very hydrating olive oil to moisturize skin while also infusing it with wrinkle-fighting polyphenols. For an extra dose of vitamins C and K—which, over time, reduce fine lines and age spots—you can mix blueberries into the moisturizer (though only use blueberries if you’re applying this cream at night, since it’ll leave your skin with a faint blue hue until you wash it off). And keep this sucker in the refrigerator between uses, says Shamban, since it’s basically food.
½ cup of Vanicream, or your favorite gentile moisturizer
2 teaspoons of concentrated, overly-steeped green tea
5 drops of pure calendula oil (found at most grocery stores or health food stores)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
12 blueberries (optional)
Steep a cup of green tea for ten minutes, then, once it cools off, transfer the liquid into a small bowl, adding in the green tea, calendula oil, olive oil, and your base moisturizer and stirring until completely mixed. (If you’re adding blueberries, put the mixture in a blender, instead, and blend in the blueberries until the cream is thoroughly mixed). Pour the cream into a small jar or lidded container, and massage into your skin after removing your makeup and using your face wash.