Betty Muindi @BettyMuindi
Levina Akoth, 20, a university student in Nairobi sits at the waiting bay for her turn to see a dermatologist. She has her face covered only exposing her eyes. This is because her face is covered with rashes — a side effect of a lemon and bicarbonate soda concoction she had tried on her face.
Akoth says all she wanted was to brighten her skin and after perusing through social media, she met a celebrity who swore by the two home remedies.
However, within 24 hours of trying the remedy, her skin reacted and all of a sudden there were ugly rashes all over her smooth face. “I freaked out! Days and then weeks later, my face was getting worse and painful. I decided to see a doctor,” she narrates.
You must have tried out a home skin remedy or some unorthodox treatment at some point in your life to brighten your skin, smoothen your face or get rid of annoying pimples or acne.
All over social platforms, vloggers, influencers, celebrities as well as self-professed beauty experts give tips of how home remedies can be used for skin care.
But are these remedies, albeit natural really good for your skin? “They have worked for me. My mother has been using turmeric, lemon, and yoghurt in facemasks for years, which is why I decided to use homemade remedies,” says Beverlyne Nekesa.
While homemade skincare products can do wonders for acne and a myriad of other skin problems, experts warn that one must first consult a dermatologist because some products, however, natural may be harmful to certain people’s skin.
“Some products are dangerous, especially if you have sensitive skin or any kind of skin condition,” says Sarah Ngugi, a beauty consultant at Salyn Beauty.
She says safer products to use on the skin at home are almond flour and ginger. Other safe products recommended by skincare experts are aloe vera, green tea and tea tree oil. It is, however, always safer to consult.
When getting tips online, Ngugi says one should look for credible skin care consultants. She reveals that most of her clients who come with extremely damaged skin learn about the home remedies such as the use of lemons from a family member, friend or social media.
“For some reason, lemon is the darling of many when they want to lighten their skin or get rid of black spots. Although citrus fruit has been touted as Mother Nature’s lightener, lemons have a pH of about two, which can mess up the skin’s natural pH of four to five.
Plus, they’re way too acidic and literally eat away at our protective barrier. Even worse, they make the skin more sensitive to the sun, which can lead to blistering or bad discolouration that could last for months,” she cautions.
Ngugi notes influencers and celebrities are not qualified dermatologists; their suggestions should be taken as just that, suggestions.
Dr Pranav Pancholi of Avané Dermatology Clinic, a skin dermatologist practicing as a cosmetic dermato-surgeon in Nairobi agrees.
He says some home remedies work, but only if used in recommended quantities. “The combination of honey and lemon is excellent for glowing and healthy skin, for example. However, they must be used in moderation,” he offers.
He says exfoliating with baking or bicarbonate soda can remove the skin’s protective oil barrier, alter its pH and disrupt the natural bacteria on the surface that help to prevent infection and acne. Over-exfoliating can cause redness, breakouts, burning, and dry skin.
Pancholi notes that the best way to test if a product is good for your face is trying it on a small portion of your skin to see if it would react.
Other skin unfriendly home remedies that people use on their face is applying mayonnaise as a facemask. Mayonnaise is made mainly of oil and fat and it can bring on a full face of acne, plugging pores, and encouraging skin bacteria to grow.
Also, while the protein in egg whites do a good job in improving skin tone and elasticity and are gentle. But doctors warn using them as face masks can spell trouble when accidentally ingested as they can contain salmonella, a bacteria that causes severe food poisoning.