7 DIY Face Masks And Scrubs That Actually Work

Forget shelling out lots of cash for skincare products—these natural cleansers, masks and scrubs for your face are just as good.

March 31, 2017
Oats scattered on a bench

We've got the secret to a spa-worthy, organic, herbal facial experience that will open your pores (And you don't need to shell out big bucks at a salon, or even leave your kitchen!)

Natural face masks, scrubs, and cleansers you make yourself are a gentle and wonderful way to cleanse, exfoliate, and enhance blood circulation to your skin. It's also wise to make your own natural face masks and face scrubs at home because you know exactly what organic ingredients you're using, plus it saves you money since many of these items are already in your refrigerator, and regardless won't cost as much as the ready-made products.

Making your own face masks also helps protect you from thousands of harmful chemicals lurking in personal care products—many are labeled "natural," but are not organic, or even truly natural. (For more on this, check out the 6 Most Harmful Ingredients Found in Body Lotion. Yikes!)

(No room? No problem! See how you can grow tomatoes in the driveway, dill on the deck, and peppers on the porch with Rodale's Edible Spots & Pots—get your copy now!)

Using safe and effective herbs and other skin care ingredients is important because your skin is your body's largest organ—3,000-square inches that acts like a living sponge. Whether the makeup, shampoo, and lotions ingredients you use are safe or toxic, your skin quickly absorbs them and feeds them into your bloodstream where they're immediately circulated throughout your body.  

Because your homemade herbal beauty products and natural facial cleansers do not contain chemical preservatives, they'll have a shorter shelf life than their commercial counterparts. Be mindful of this and make herbal beauty products in small batches. You can store them in your refrigerator to keep them fresh for as long as possible. 

Related: The Most Toxic Stuff In Your Drugstore Makeup—And 8 Organic Brands To Try Instead

To reduce the risk of spoilage, make sure that all the equipment you use to make your natural face masks is clean. Avoid dipping your fingers directly into the mixtures when you apply them to your face; instead, use a small spatula or other clean utensil. Also, to be safe and to avoid an allergic reaction, test any new herbal product on the inside of your arm before applying it to your face, and avoid getting any cosmetic product in your eyes. 

Below are our recipes for natural face masks you can make right now. It's time to get serious about DIY skin care!

This article was adapted from Rodale's 21st Century Herbal.

bowl of yogurt
Olena Raminetska/ Shutterstock
Natural face masks

Depending on your skin type, a botanical mask can be designed to be a hydrating, emollient, deep-moisturizing treatment, or an astringent, skin-tightening treatment. You'll find most of the ingredients you'll need in your refrigerator or kitchen pantry. Many fruits and milk products are rich in skin-softening alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which make them an excellent addition to facial masks. Other good ingredients for facial masks are aloe vera gel, eggs, pumpkin pulp, and unsweetened cocoa powder.

Face Mask For Dry Skin

If your skin is dry: choose ingredients with moisturizing benefits, such as avocado, coconut oil, cream, egg yolks, honey, oats, olive oil, powdered milk, or plain yogurt.

Our recipe:

2 tablespoons plain thick yogurt
1 egg yolk or 1 tablespoon liquid honey
A few drops of coconut or olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg yolk or honey, and oil. Use a cotton ball to apply the mask to your face, avoiding the eye area. Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes. Cleanse thoroughly with warm water, then splash your face with cool water.

Face Mask For Oily Skin

If your skin is oily: choose ingredients with astringent or toning effects, such as apple cider vinegar, banana, citrus or cranberry juice, egg whites, green clay (also called bentonite, available in natural food stores), strawberries, or witch hazel. Once mixed, the mask ingredients won't keep well, so discard any leftovers.

Our recipe:

1 ripe banana
1 egg white
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or citrus juice

In a blender, combine the banana, egg white, and vinegar or juice. Blend to form a smooth paste. Use a cotton ball to apply the mask to your face, avoiding the eye area. Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes. Cleanse thoroughly with warm water, then splash your face with cool water.

Related: 23 Organic Beauty Buys Under $15

sugar scrub
Fresno Bee/Getty
Natural facial scrubs

Use a scrub less often—about once a week—to slough off dead skin cells and stimulate circulation. The mild exfoliating action of an herbal scrub will leave your face looking radiant and feeling baby soft. Be careful, though: Scrubbing too vigorously can leave unsightly blotches, although these will fade with time. If you have sensitive skin, be extra gentle.

Our recipe:

1 cup rolled oats
⅓ cup cornmeal
⅓ cup dried herbs (such as calendula, lavender, peppermint, rose petals, or a mixture of herbs)
Almonds, clay, or sugar (optional; use alone or in combination to total 1 tablespoon)

1. In a clean coffee grinder, combine the oatmeal, cornmeal, herbs, and almonds, clay, or sugar, if using. Grind the mixture to a fine powder. (You could also use a mortar and pestle.)
2. To use, place some of the mixture in the palm of your hand. Add enough water to make a paste. Apply the mixture evenly over your face, avoiding your eyes. Massage the scrub gently into your skin, using circular motions. Rinse thoroughly.
3. Store the scrub in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry location for up to 3 months.

Related: How To Keep Calm At Work Using Essential Oils

Bunches of fresh and dried herbs
Herbal facial skin cleanser

Routinely removing accumulated oil, pollutants, and bacteria from your face is essential for obtaining clear skin that glows with good health, so you can gently cleanse your face once or twice daily with this natural facial cleanser.

Our recipe: 

1 cup of water
1 teaspoon dried herb or a handful of fresh herbs (you can use peppermint or rosemary for oily skin; fennel for dry skin; rose for normal, dry, and sensitive skin)
1 tablespoon powdered milk

1. Make an infusion with the herbs and 1 cup of water. To create the infusion, pour boiling water over dried or fresh leaves or flowers, and cover the container tightly to prevent the escape of volatile oils. Steep 10 to 15 minutes, then strain.
2. Allow it to cool to a comfortable temperature, then mix infused water into the powdered milk. Apply the liquid to your face with a cotton ball or cloth, then rinse with cool water.
3. Immediately refrigerate any unused portion; discard after 48 hours.

Related: 8 Healthy Uses For Activated Charcoal (And 3 You Can Skip)

rose petals in a bowl
Natural facial steam

An herbal steam opens pores and stimulates blood circulation. But for people who have extremely sensitive, damaged, or dry skin, or those who are prone to developing tiny broken veins or capillaries, herbal steams can be irritating and should be avoided unless suggested by a doctor or other health-care provider.

Here's what you need for a simple, natural herbal facial steam:

½ cup dried herbs (such as calendula, German or Roman chamomile, lavender flowers, orange or other citrus peel, peppermint, rosemary, or rose petals)
3-quart pot of water
1 towel

1. Bring a 3-quart pot of water to a boil, then remove it from the heat.
2. Add the herbs to the pot of steaming water. Wait a few minutes to allow the water to cool slightly.
3. Place your face about 12 inches above the pot and drape a towel over your head. Allow the steam to bathe the skin of your face for a moment or two. Remove the towel, raise your head, and take a few breaths of fresh air. Repeat the process for a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes. As the herbs steep, the rising steam will open your pores and carry the aromatic volatile oil components of the herbs to your facial skin.
4. To finish, use a cleanser, scrub, or mask if desired, and then splash your face with cool—not cold—water or toner to close your pores.

Lisa Hubbard
Natural facial toners

Applying a toner after cleansing your skin once or twice a day helps restore its acid pH and tighten pores. Hydrosols (flower waters created during the manufacture of essential oils) also make soothing, aromatic toners. Witch hazel is an excellent toner for oily skin. Here are two quick recipes for natural facial toners you can make yourself. 

Basic Herbal Skin Toner

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 cup water
In a small jar, combine the vinegar or lemon juice and water. Splash or spray your face with the toner, avoiding your eyes. There's no need to rinse; the toner will evaporate quickly. Vinegar toners will keep indefinitely at room temperature. Keep lemon juice toner in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Queen Of Hungary's Water

Handed down through the generations, Queen of Hungary's water is a classic vinegar-based skin toner that tightens pores, balances pH, and improves skin tone. Herb-infused vinegars, such as this one, provide myriad cosmetic benefits and are remarkably easy to make. Although some modern women may shy away from using vinegar as a skin-care ingredient, herb-infused vinegars have been treasured cosmetics for centuries. In fact, few ingredients are as effective at balancing your skin's pH. The aroma of the vinegar dissipates quickly and does not linger on your skin.

Here's what you'll need: 

1 mason jar
Rose water
Apple cider vinegar
An herbal mix, traditionally made up of dried calendula, dried chamomile, dried comfrey, dried elder flower, dried lemon balm, dried lemon peel, dried rose petals, dried rosemary, dried sage

The ingredients and proportions used in Queen of Hungary's water can vary according to what you have on hand. Place all of the herbs that you have on hand in a mason jar, cover them completely with apple cider vinegar, and let them soak in the vinegar for at least 2 weeks. Strain. To each cup of herb-infused vinegar, add a half-cup of rose water, available from health food stores, natural grocers, and online herb suppliers. Store Queen of Hungary's Water in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.