Are DIY face masks really as good as shop bought ones?

There was a lot of burning

diy face masks face masks homemade face masks kiwi skin

The benefits of using all-natural, chemical free products to boost your skin are constantly being rammed down your throat.

But does swapping The Body Shop for the corner shop really have any perks when it comes to beauty? I tried five homemade face mask recipes to see if it could save me money AND make me look like I was fresh from a spa day.

Sara 1

Pre-face masks

The ‘Refreshing’ Mask

The Claim: This mask reckons it will leave you with a “fresh-faced glow”, as your skin is exfoliated and rejuvenated. Sounds promising.

You will need:

• Two tablespoons of orange juice

• Two tablespoons of baking powder

Orange and Baking Soda

Mmm… frothy

Orange and Baking Soda crumble

You can’t save this for later. Not that you would, because it’s horrific

The recipe’s simple. Mix the two ingredients together, slap it on your face, leave for 20 minutes, then “scrub in a circular motion” to exfoliate before washing it off. Even the most cack-handed beautician could manage that.

The reality, however, is grim. Firstly, you have to put it on your face within about 10 seconds of mixing it, or the frothy orangey paste will turn into a gross crumbly mess. Secondly, and probably more importantly, it burns…a lot.

Sara Baking Powder

This is the face you pull when you’re being eaten alive by froth

The recipe says “the tingling means it’s working”, but put it this way: if I’d left this on my face for 20 minutes, I would’ve inadvertently given myself a chemical peel. If I’d rubbed it into my face, I probably would’ve needed actual reconstructive surgery.

After frantically washing it off after only two minutes, my “fresh-faced glow” was a blotchy, stinging mess. Far from being refreshed, my poor skin simply throbbed at the realisation it had just been assaulted by a household raising agent.

Sara Burned Face

Not cute

Rating: -10/10. Please never do this.

The ‘Moisturising’ Mask

The Claim: The recipe says “if you’re on the dry skin side of the spectrum, this mask is perfection”. The ideal remedy for my baking powder induced sandpaper skin.

You will need:

• Three tablespoons of greek yogurt

• Three tablespoons of honey

Greek yogurt and honey

Looks lush

Again, this one’s super easy with the classic spoon-mix-slather method. Mixing the honey into the yogurt made it pretty runny, so it was messy and sticky to apply, but it sat on my skin quite nicely and didn’t smell nearly as bad as you might expect from a fermented dairy product.

It felt nice and cooling after the baking powder incident, and I left it to work any magic it had to offer for the full 20 minutes. The recipe also made way too much, so I ate the rest of it to pass the time, and wondered if it would be worth taking the two-in-one face mask/snack idea on Dragon’s Den.

Sara Greek yogurt and honey


When I washed it off, my skin felt pretty good, nicely moisturised, and the redness had definitely gone down which was a huge relief. I won’t be replacing my actual moisturiser with greek yogurt any time soon, but overall, this one isn’t bad at all.

Rating: 8/10. Extra points for snacking potential.

The ‘Pore Cleansing’ Mask

The Claim: This is a classic peel-off mask, which promises to get all the gunk out of your pores and leave you with “very smooth and clean” skin. The recipe says once you can make this mask, you’re well on your way to being a beauty expert. We’ll see.

You will need:

• One tablespoon of powdered gelatin

• Two tablespoons of milk

The method is deceptively simple: mix the two ingredients, put it in the microwave for a short 15 second burst, spread it on using an “old popsicle stick” and peel it off when it’s dry.

Gelatin mixed

Looks gross

I was a bit concerned the recipe made a point of saying this mask can be super painful to remove, to the point where it could rip out your eyebrows if it gets on them.

But I needn’t have worried: in the end I never made it that far. Microwaving the mixture turned it into a sticky gloopy splat, which was burning hot and therefore not going anywhere near my face.

After a few attempts at adjusting quantities, temperatures and timings, I admitted defeat. If I want my pores cleansed in the future, I’ll be going straight to Boots.

Rating: 0/10. Don’t even bother.

The ‘Brightening’ Mask

The Claim: Apparently, the kiwi in this mask has “a higher concentration of vitamin C than an orange” and contains alpha hydroxy acids “great for maintaining elasticity in the skin”. Seems legit.

You will need:

• One kiwi

• One and a half tablespoons of greek yoghurt

• Half a tablespoon of orange juice

• Half a tablespoon of olive oil

Kiwi with blender

Looks appetising

This one called for a bit of hand-blending, which was meant to break up the kiwi seeds into micro exfoliators, but it didn’t really. The consistency was actually lumpy, chunky and so runny I had to lie down after applying to stop it running off my face.

It stung quite a bit, which I really should’ve seen coming when the recipe pulled the same “if it’s tingling, it means it’s working” crap as the “refreshing” mask. But even so, I managed to leave it on for about 15 minutes.

sara lying down kiwi

Super messy

When I took it off, my skin did look quite bright, and there was no redness. But the olive oil made it feel really greasy, which didn’t go away even after a lot of washing. In fact, the brightness was probably just the sheen from all the greasiness. 

My face didn’t feel very nourished, and I don’t know what happened to the alpha hydroxy acids, but I wouldn’t say there was any change in my skin’s elasticity. 

Sara bright skin


Overall, the best thing about this mask was probably the minty green colour, and I definitely wouldn’t pick it over the moisturising mask.

Rating: 4/10. Not worth the blending effort.

The Mud Mask

The Claim: This is another moisturising mask, but the main promise made by this recipe is it tastes really, really good.

You will need:

• Two to three tablespoons of greek yoghurt

• One teaspoon of coca powder

• Half a banana, mashed

• One teaspoon of honey

• One teaspoon of lemon juice

After whipping up the mask, a quick taste confirmed while it’s not exactly an ice cream sundae, it does taste pretty good for a face mask. It felt really nice on my skin, was a great consistency and smelled amazing.

Chocolate mask

Now we’re talking

Sara chocolate mask

Definitely looks like mud

I left it on for the usual 10 minutes, but it was quite difficult to remove. It set to a weird sort of semi-gelatinous consistency, so in some patches I had to actually peel it off.

Even though the mask felt great when I was wearing it, my skin underneath had clearly disagreed. There were a few angry red patches, and a few minutes after I took it off my face became really itchy. This improved after a little while, and my skin felt really moisturised and smooth for ages afterwards.

Rating: 6/10. Impressive long-lasting moisturising effect.