DIY Face Masks Can Be Super Effective or Super Scary

Portrait of a woman in facial alginate mask lying in the retro bath in the bathroom

Clogged pores are far from a modern problem. There’s proof that clogged pores caused acne, rosacea and inflammation throughout history.

People have feared acne as far back as ancient Egypt. In the third century, it was widely believed that lying caused the dreaded skin condition. Cleopatra, arguably the most powerful and beautiful woman in Egyptian history, indulged in frequent sour milk baths. It was the lactic acid derived from the soured milk that kept her skin looking flawless. Even the (adolescent) pharaoh King Tut was buried with his acne remedies.

Treatment of acne has continued to progress and evolve into the 21st century. In the 1920s, a man working for Revlon Inc. invented benzoyl peroxide for the specific purpose of treating acne; it is still in use for this purpose today.

The 1960s saw the invention of Retin-A, a topical treatment that reduces acne and clears pores. It is a very effective treatment that is still prescribed. Not all treatments have been a success, however. One unfortunate invention, isotretinoin (Accutane), was astoundingly effective but a huge mistake. Soon after its release, it was taken off the market for causing seizures, strokes, heart attacks, and hair loss.

Skincare has come a long way regarding almost every type of skin concern, and the myths and superstitions of the past centuries have, too. Even in 2022, there are still some perplexing concepts about the use of Neosporin or other topical antiseptics and baking soda to clear pores and heal acne. You’ll learn all about these as you read this article. Plus, you can try some excellent DIY pore-clearing masks and recipes to discover what works for you on your journey to youthful, radiant skin.

Using Neosporin or Other Antiseptics To Clear Pores on the Face?

Neosporin is a combination antibiotic ointment used to help prevent skin infections. It may seem like the intuitive idea to spot-treat acne on the face with antibiotic ointment. And while Neosporin can reduce some of the redness, itching, and inflammation associated with acne-related breakouts, using it for acne is counterintuitive and counterproductive.

Please be sure to read the entire box before slathering triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin all over your face.

A woman with a face mask applied to her face, smiles

Read the Entire Box: Fair Warning, More Zits, & Smothered Skin

The boxes of triple antibacterial ointments clearly caution against using the product on your face. They warn more specifically against applying the product to the nose, eye, and mouth areas. Plus, if you attempt to treat acne with Neosporin or similar gels, the risks outweigh the expected benefits. Although for some people the hack may seem like it’s working at first, the experiment can cause brand new acne papules and pustules that are perhaps angrier than the acne by-products you’re attempting to treat in the first place.

The antiseptic healing ointments are very thick and nonporous; because of this, your skin will cease to breathe, and your pores will be instantly clogged!

Additionally, these sterile balms are made with three antibiotics: Bacitracin Zinc, Neomycin, and Polymyxin B Sulfate. It’s designed to treat an open cut, burn, or minor wound. The ointment is most certainly not created to prevent or treat any form of acne-related breakouts.

Allergic Reaction Warning: Contact Dermatitis

Neomycin has been exposed! Neomycin can cause an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis. The indicators of the reaction worsen with continued use. Most people discover the symptoms of contact dermatitis include mild to severe degrees of red, irritated, itchy, scaly, cracked, and inflamed skin.

Another antibiotic in the antiseptic’s formula, Bacitracin Zinc, can cause the same adverse reaction but to a lesser extent than Neomycin.

Neosporin Studies Yield Surprising Results

There have been many studies of triple antibiotic ointment regarding its efficiency in actually preventing and treating infections within a cut or scrape. The consistent results not only exhibit lackluster results that the ointment doesn’t do anything to prevent infection but said results also indicate that Neosporin may slow healing time. The studies also confirm that the salve predisposes the wound to more prevalent scarring than an injury that’s not been treated at all.  

Bactine Healing Spray for Acne-Prone Skin

Bactine is being hailed as some modern-day hero of a spray by some people on online acne forums. Bactine has a different active ingredient than Neosporin and Polysporin yet they essentially do the same job. However, some people believe that Bactine promises to erase acne overnight. There have been enough people who have disproven the theory for you so you can forgo any dangerous trials.

Some people say that the idea is to spray the antiseptic, lidocaine-infused concoction directly over the pustules and papules on the face. Supposedly you’d finish off the job with a small, round Band-Aid™ to work some kind of “magic” overnight.

Now, if the adhesive on the Band-Aid™ doesn’t irritate your skin, the Bactine spray certainly will!

Some victims of this approach saw their skin fall off in flakes and patches and swore that the Bactine/Band-Aid™ combo killed their skin. Other victims felt the reaction rather than saw it unfold.

The bottom line is to slow down, take a deep breath, and then diligently research the “home remedy” before you take any crazy plunges. Don’t be like them — save your skin.

Avocado, honey, oats, lemon, and other at-home mask ingredients on a counter

Baking Soda: Is It Worth the Risk for Clear Pores on Your Face?

Next on the potentially “life-changing” list of viral skincare hacks is baking soda. There’s no denying that there are tons upon tons of DIY baking soda face washes, facemasks, toners, and more. At face value, this idea seems to be an invaluable tip for the millions of people who struggle with clogged or enlarged pores and inflammatory or cystic acne.

It seems like baking soda is the number one mainstay to clean and revitalize everything, everywhere in the house– and skin, too! But did you realize that the same stuff qualified to restore an old stovetop to its former glory also unclogs shower drains AND your pores?

Moreover, if you’re already allergic to any things or have mildly sensitive skin please, for the love of Pete, don’t even think about trying to use baking soda on your skin! Chemical burns and other adverse skin reactions to baking soda can carry very real life-altering risks.

Of course, it’s ultimately your choice to try it out, but here at Age Defying, it’s a resounding NO!

There are so many more effective and proven skin-loving tricks of the trade. If you start with the less risky skincare hacks, you’ll never need to try any of the baking soda ideas.

Clarifying DIY Face Masks: Tried & True Natural Ingredients

Naturally, you want to use the most effective organic or organically derived ingredients for your face. The skin care of yesterday is made of tried and true remedies like raw honey, castor, olive, moringa oils, goat milk, probiotic-packed yogurts, and antioxidant-rich berries. Ingredients like aloe Barbadensis leaf juice (not extract) and aloe vera gel are invaluable for dry and damaged skin with their natural alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and humectant properties.

Raw honey, depending on the source, can also be an excellent pore-clearing face mask ingredient. Including some vitamin A and C-rich ingredients can also help to clarify and brighten your skin. Some other common sources of A and C vitamins include ripe and mashed tomatoes or papaya. You can buy and incorporate things like bilberry and blueberry for the amazing, unsurmountable natural ferulic acid and antioxidant power these berries contain. A few examples are listed below to get your pores cleared and tightened today.

A woman applies an at-home face mask in the bathroom

The Brightest Pore Eraser: Raw Honey, Blueberries, Plain Greek Yogurt, Rolled Oats & Lemon Juice

Once you try a few options out and learn the best ingredients for each skin concern, you can be a DIY facemask guru. But for now, you’ve got this list and the experts here at Age Defying to lean on.

This first mixture on the list is a guaranteed skin protectant with all the brightening, lightening, and clearing genius of a DIY facemask. This recipe is a concoction of natural skincare all-stars when it comes to marrying all the anti-aging, unclogging, and protection from free radicals. Raw honey can be an all-star all on its own. It contains antibacterial, naturally exfoliating, oil-reducing, and acne-fighting properties and it promotes cell turnover.

The blueberry is a powerhouse of nutrients and antioxidants. Antioxidants like anthocyanins fight free radicals while also scavenging the skin for more. Anthocyanins do further work to create pathways to cell regeneration, collagen production, and plump wrinkle-free skin. Plus, the blueberry gives you smaller-looking pores and relieves dark spots or undereye discoloration, therefore, brightening a dull complexion. The antioxidant anthocyanin is what gives the berries their rich blue color which can also give you the same tint when overused.

With the calcium in Greek yogurt, you’re reinforcing and repairing your skin’s barrier and moisturizing your face from deep within. Yogurt’s probiotics add healing and antibacterial power which aids in the fight against acne, inflammation, wrinkles, and sun damage. The complex in the yogurt can brighten, protect, and renew your skin.

Rolled oats, or any oats you have on hand, are great natural exfoliators. Oats can loosen and remove all the debris from the skin and soak it up. They’re exceptional moisturizers with added benefits to your skin microbiome and relief from irritation.

Lemons may become your new main squeeze in a DIY facemask with all of the wonders found in the zesty, and refreshing slices. The major shot of vitamin C to your face can lighten, heal, and deep clean your skin. Vitamin C can zap oil and acne on the spot! Lemon also has anti-fungal properties.

A woman with a towel wrapped on her head and facemask on her face, smiles

Facemask #1: Make It Clear

  • Raw honey: 1 tbsp.

  • Blueberries: ¼ c.

  • Plain Greek yogurt: 2 tbsp.

  • Rolled oats (unflavored): 2 tbsp.

  • Lemon juice: ½ tsp.

In a clean blender or food processor, blend all ingredients except for the lemon juice. Empty the mixed contents into a bowl. Spread it evenly over your face with a mask kit brush/spatula or clean fingers.

Apply the lemon juice to specific skin concerns. Avoid the eye area. Leave the mask on your face for 15-20 minutes or 5-10 minutes for sensitive skin; rinse thoroughly with warm (not hot!) water.

The Strongest Pore Cleanser: Tea Tree Oil, Cosmetic Grade Kaolin Clay, Activated Charcoal & Purified Water

This is the most potent pore sucker and it’s surprisingly gentle and moisturizing. You can even use this facemask on dry and sensitive skin. Tea tree oil is an excellent acne rescuer. The activated charcoal and the kaolin clay powder will clear the pores out completely, plus it’ll give your face a little bit of moisture; just add water. Just a smidge of each of the ingredients below will do the job.

An older woman with a dark grey health facemask on her face poses in front of tan wall

Facemask #2: Make It Potent

  • Activated charcoal: ½ tsp.

  • Kaolin clay (cosmetic grade): 1 tsp.

  • Tea tree oil: 1-2 drops

  • Purified water: ½ – ¾ tsp

Measure the activated charcoal, kaolin clay, and purified water and combine them into a dish to make a paste. Add the tea tree oil just before you apply it to your skin. You can use it just for your problem areas like the T zone, or you can apply it to the whole face. Be careful to avoid contact with the eyes.

Leave on for about 10 minutes, and rinse with warm water and a clean washcloth. Follow it up with a separate moisturizer.

The Refining Pore Shrinker: Coffee Grounds, Cacao, & Plain Greek Yogurt

The ingredients that are likely to be already stuffed in a cupboard at your house just so happen to be the best antioxidant and phenol-rich ingredients you need to put on your face!

Coffee’s famous energy-boosting power has the opposite effect when applied to the skin; it leaves it soothed and calm.

Fresh coffee grounds along with cacao (not cocoa, although you can use cocoa in a DIY mask, too) will fight and stave off free radicals within your skin and naturally exfoliate while shrinking your pores.

Although exfoliating with coffee grounds, cacao is already like a hydrating skin revival treatment all by itself, Greek yogurt will bind them to make a paste for your face.

Greek yogurt comes prepared with a whole other host of benefits previously mentioned.

All three of these powerful, natural ingredients will add moisture from within the skin and effectively clear and shrink pores. They’ll do all of this while also plumping your skin to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

A woman holds her hands to her face and looks in the mirror

Facemask #3: Make It All Disappear

  • Fresh coffee grounds: 2 tbsp.

  • Cacao: 2 tbsp.

  • Plain Greek yogurt: 2-4 tbsp.

Combine the fresh coffee grounds and cacao in a bowl and add the plain Greek yogurt one tablespoon at a time. Use your discernment while mixing the ingredients into a loose paste. It’s got to have close to the right consistency for exceptional results. Leave the facemask on for 20-30 minutes then rinse it off with lukewarm or cool water.

Pro tip: By using a pestle and mortar, you could add things like mashed turmeric or ginger root. Plus, you can try some aloe vera from your local grocery store’s produce department– it’s super-cheap and uber-hydrating. You can even incorporate all three for clear, protected, and glowing skin. Besides, ginger root is super versatile and can be used in a homemade face wash, toner, mask, or scrub.

When in Doubt, Just Look It Up

When you are looking for some relief from oily or acne-prone skin and clogged, enlarged pores on the face you can do things that you truly know aren’t rational or logical. The fact of the matter is that a quick fix to acne or bigger pores hardly exists. Try to use all-natural, organic ingredients for the DIY projects or buy professional-grade targeted skincare products.

If those solutions don’t work, contact a board-certified dermatologist to help you to step up your skincare game.

In any case, steer clear of the know-it-alls online who can potentially ruin your skin, hold off on all experiments (such as those including Neosporin or baking soda), and be wary of anything promising a quick fix!

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