The Internet is awash in recipes for homemade eye creams and makeup removers. They call for natural ingredients such as apricot oil, shea butter or witch hazel. Sounds great, right? In fact, your DIY concoction may not be as good for your skin as you think.

First of all, they’re not sterile. Second, not all natural ingredients are safe for the face.

“People have this misconception that do-it-yourself or natural means better for you,” says Doris Day, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University and author of “Forget the Facelift: Turn Back the Clock with Dr. Day’s Revolutionary Four-Step Program for Ageless Skin.”

“The products you have at home are not as pure as you think,” she says.

Jill Waibel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, notes that making your own eye creams and eye makeup removers can put you at risk for allergic reaction, bacterial infection or skin irritation.

“Creating your own eye creams and makeup removers can come with a price,” Waibel says.

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The downside of homemade beauty potions

Beauty products you buy at the store were created by chemists, perfected over years and tested for safety, Day says. Their kitchen counterparts, however, may have these problems:

1. Homemade creams aren’t sterile. When you’re making face creams at home, there are many ways to introduce germs, such as using your bare hands to touch ingredients. Wearing gloves while you work and sterilizing your equipment is a good idea, but still won’t eliminate all risk, Waibel says.

2. Bacteria and mold can grow over time. Many recipes make a quantity that will last for many uses. But keeping a DIY cream for days, weeks or months is a big no-no, Day says. Storing the cream in a humid environment like a bathroom is even worse, she says. That cream may grow visible mold after a few weeks. Slather that under your eyes or elsewhere on face and you can get an eye or skin infection, Day says.

3. DIY creams are not shelf stable. When an ingredient or a mixture sits over time, the ingredients can lose potency or break down into other ingredients, some of which may be harmful, Day says. “At best, it becomes less effective.”

4. The ingredients may not be safe. Internet recipes call for a wide range of ingredients. But there’s no guarantee they’re all safe to put on your face, Waibel says. For example, coconut oil can cause an increase in acne, she says. One online recipe that claims to help with dark circles calls for turmeric and lemon juice — but lemon juice can burn or sting your eyes and make your skin more sensitive to the sun, Day says. Apply it before going out in the sun and you could get photodermatitis, a prickly rash.

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DIY skin creams tips

In general, you should probably stay away from many of the online recipes that involve mixing ingredients together and storing the product for a time, Day says. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use ingredients from your fridge or pantry on your skin.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Keep it simple. You can use olive oil as an eye makeup remover, Day says. “That’s fine — it’s cheap and easy,” she says. And pure honey can make a good face mask, she says. Yogurt is also OK to put on your face according to Day.
  • Make it fresh. If you do make your own concoctions, whip up a new small batch right before using it, she says. Storing DIY creams is not recommended but if you do, pay attention to odor. “If it doesn’t smell right, don’t use it,” she says.

Store-bought eye creams and makeup removers might be a better bet for your skin (and your wallet) than potions you make at home, Day says. “The good news is, the ones you can buy in the drug store are safe, effective and not terribly expensive.”

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Allie Johnson is an award-winning freelance consumer writer with a degree in magazine journalism. She lives in Georgia with her husband and two dogs.