DIY: How to Make At-Home Skin Care Remedies

Plastic surgeon Dr. Paul G. Ruff shares his favorite do-it-yourself skin treatments.

For tired, dull skin, Dr. Paul G. Ruff of Ruff Plastic Surgery & RPS MedSpa says to combine salt, sugar, olive oil, and some cinnamon to create a cheap, at-home exfoliating scrub. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

In our current economy, it can be hard to make room in your budget for pricey facial treatments at the spa. So why not reach into your cupboard or garden and whip up your own beauty boosting facial remedies? We asked Dr. Paul G. Ruff of Ruff Plastic Surgery & RPS MedSpa to share a few of his favorite DIY skin treatments. 

Problem: tired, dull skin
Solution: exfoliation scrubs

If the summer sun is making your skin feel tired, try making a scrub to slough off the rough layers and reveal more youthful skin beneath. The basic ingredients that go into any at-home scrub, says Ruff, are sugar and sea salt. “The more granular the texture of the salt and/or sugar, the more aggressive the exfoliation,” he cautions, so be careful not to create a scrub that’s too rough if you have sensitive skin.

How to make it: Start with two tablespoons of salt and one tablespoon of sugar. Combine with a few drops of olive or coconut oil or honey to create a paste. You can also add essential oils to create a certain aroma or therapeutic benefit. To make your scrub extra hydrating, try adding plain yogurt or whole (not instant) oatmeal. For a sweet and spicy antioxidant boost, add one-eighth to one-quarter teaspoon of dark cocoa and/or cinnamon. Apply the scrub in a gentle, circular motion for five to ten minutes, depending on the sensitivity of your skin and the coarseness of the scrub. Ruff recommends rinsing with warm water and following with a few drops of rosemary oil for “a truly luxurious experience.”


Problem: dry, irritated, itchy skin
Solution: rosemary oil

Dry, itchy skin in the summertime seems counterintuitive, but this is the time of year when sun exposure and bugs cause a lot of skin irritation, Ruff says. His favorite natural method for dealing with Sahara-like skin is rosemary oil. Rosemary, Ruff says, is astringent and antibacterial and “will help clear up larger pores, control oil, and reduce blackheads.” It also stimulates circulation in the skin, which “improves nutrition to your cells and restores elasticity,” giving you a youthful look.

How to make it: Find two large sprigs of rosemary (about eight inches long), separate the leaves, and discard the stems. In a double boiler, place the leaves plus half a cup of extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil and heat over medium heat for 20 minutes. Use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain out the leaves as you pour the oil into a glass jar with a screw-top lid. You should use the oil as an overnight treatment for tired skin, but do not use on a sunburn, cautions Ruff.


Problem: redness and large pores
Solution: peppermint mask

To reduce pore size, hydrate skin, and soothe patches of redness, grab some peppermint leaves, which grow wild in many areas, notes Ruff.

How to make it: Take one cup of peppermint leaves (packed), and use a mortar and pestle or a similar tool to grind the leave into a chunky paste. You can use this paste on its own or combine it with other ingredients, including wheat germ or coconut oil, for a smoother consistency. Apply the paste to your face and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and enjoy the refreshing, minty glow.


Problem: uneven, dry skin
Solution: clay mask

Clay masks, which are popular at elite spas, can be made at home using something as unglamorous as kitty litter (unused, of course), which is often made from pure clay. Make sure the only ingredient listed for the litter is 100 percent natural clay (sodium bentonite).

How to make it: Take two to three tablespoons of the litter and mix with a small amount of water until it creates a semi-liquid mixture. Add oils (like your homemade rosemary oil or mashed peppermint paste) for even more skin benefits. For more hydration, try adding olive or coconut oil or honey. Apply the mask to the face, hands, feet, or almost any other area and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Finish by rinsing with warm water and notice the improved texture, tone, and hydration of your skin.