Don't Buy This: Make Your Own Face Mask for $3 or Less

You can make a face mask or scrub with as few as two ingredients for a fraction of the price of store-bought products. Here are six recipes you can whip up at home on the cheap.

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Nov 29 2018, 8:54pm

Illustration by Kelsey Niziolek

When your face feels dry, rough or just needs a deeper cleanse than you can get from regular soap and water, you might be tempted to buy a $15 face scrub or mask to help solve the problem. But before heading out to the drugstore or splurging on a fancy department store product—like the $250 La Mer brightening mask—check your kitchen cabinet to see if you already have all the ingredients you need to make one at home.

Making your own masks and scrubs lets you know exactly what ingredients you’re putting on your skin. What’s more, they cost a fraction of the price of their store-bought equivalents. For example, the clay and apple cider vinegar mask below costs just 14 cents per mask versus Charlotte Tilbury’s clay mask that’s closer to two dollars per mask (assuming you can get 30 applications out of the $55 tube). Even if you have never tried to make your own mask or scrub, these recipes are simple and will take less than five minutes to mix up.

The six recipes below all cost $3 or less per application and use cheap items from the grocery store like rolled oats, lemon, and even used coffee grinds. Because some of the mixtures can get messy—especially when ingredients like honey and avocado are involved—it helps to have a towel handy when you apply them to wipe up any drips. If you make too much to use at once, store leftovers in an empty jam jar or other reusable container.

Here are some of our favorite DIY recipes using as little as two ingredients:

Oats & honey scrub: Less than $1

For a gentle, moisturizing scrub, this recipe by Homemade for Elle uses three ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen and gives you a big savings compared to Naturopathica’s Oat Cleansing Facial Polish, which costs $56 for a five-ounce tube.

Oat s and honey face scrub
Mix some rolled oats, honey, and olive oil together for a fantastic face scrub. Photos by Stocksy

To make it, mix a quarter cup of uncooked oats, an eighth cup of honey, and an eighth cup of olive oil, then gently massage your scrub into your face for 60 seconds. For a slight variation, substitute warm water for the olive oil or add some lemon juice to the mix.

How we priced it: $0.32 for an eighth of a cup of olive oil, $0.28 for an eighth of a cup of honey, and $0.20 for a quarter of a cup of oats.

Yogurt & lemon face mask: Less than $1

Sure, you could drop $60 on a fancy store-bought mask like Volition’s Detoxifying Silt Gelée Mask, but why bother when you can make your own from items you probably already have at home? Make this two-ingredient face mask from Livestrong by mixing two tablespoons of full-fat, plain yogurt and a drop or two of fresh lemon juice.

Michal Shamli shows off her yogurt lemon face scrub.
Michal Shamli shows off her yogurt lemon scrub. Photo courtesy of Michal Shamli

Michal Shamli, a nurse in New Jersey who recently whipped this one up, says of the results, “I feel great. They say the cultures and acid in it are hydrating, detoxifying, antibacterial, and lightening—it’s no microdermabrasion but for zero dollars and 20 minutes it’s awesome.” For a little variety, this recipe by Alluring Soul adds a few slices of banana, while Hello Glow uses Greek yogurt, swaps honey for lemon, and adds a few blueberries.

How we priced it: Two tablespoons of yogurt for $0.13 plus a drop of lemon juice from a $1 lemon.

Coffee & coconut oil scrub: Less than $3

Let your coffee grounds work double time as an exfoliating face scrub. Shea Moisture’s Ground Coffee Scrub costs $15, but you can reuse your morning coffee grounds at no extra cost. This vanilla latte coffee scrub from A Beautiful Mess combines half a cup of coconut oil, one and a quarter cups of sugar, three-quarters of a cup of (fresh or used) coffee grounds, and two teaspoons of vanilla extract. You can leave out the vanilla extract if you don’t have it handy.

A variation from StyleCaster calls for brown sugar and olive oil, or you could just add honey to the mix. Have some left over? “I use it gently on my face or more rigorously on my heels,” says Elizabeth Sorrell, who works at the National Audubon Society in New York City and frequently makes her own coffee scrubs.

How we priced it: $2 for half a cup of coconut oil, $0.20 for the sugar, and the optional vanilla extract is $0.58 per teaspoon. If you reuse coffee grounds, there is no additional cost for those.

Aloe vera mask: $0.50

If you like adding a botanical component to your DIY concoctions, this three-ingredient aloe vera recipe by Hello Glow makes a refreshing mask. Mix an egg white, a tablespoon of finely shredded carrots, and a teaspoon of aloe vera gel in a bowl until frothy, then wear for 15 to 30 minutes. An alternate version from HeyRayLee uses water and honey instead of the egg white and carrots.

Price: At $4 per bottle of aloe vera gel, around $0.42 for an egg, and pennies for a tablespoon on shredded carrots, this mask comes out to about $0.50 per application. If you have your own aloe plant, it’s even cheaper!

Avocado honey face mask: $1.20

Do you have an avocado kicking around? Avocados aren’t just for eating—they make smooth, thick face masks, too! And for less than $2 per mask versus store-bought versions like Glossier’s Mega Greens Galaxy Pack at $22 for a tiny, three-ounce container, you can’t go wrong.

The Healthy Maven‘s avocado mask combines half an avocado, one-to-two teaspoons of raw honey, and two tablespoons of rolled oats. Keep it on for 20 minutes before wiping off with a cloth or paper towel to avoid getting chunks of food stuck in your bathroom sink drain. If you don’t have honey on hand or want to skip buying a new jar, substitute an egg white to help with oily skin or opt for simply avocado and honey.

Price: Half an avocado should set you back around $1.00, and honey costs about $0.10 for 2 teaspoons. Add $0.10 if you add oats to your mask.

Apple cider vinegar & clay mask: 14 cents

Clay masks can leave your skin feeling fresh and rejuvenated, and there are hundreds of options available ranging from Ahava’s Purifying Mud Mask for $35 to Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess Clay Mask for $55. But with two ingredients—clay and apple cider vinegar—this recipe from Hello Militello is a slam dunk alternative to store-bought clay masks at around 14 cents per mask.

Mix three-fourths of a teaspoon of each and wear for 10 to 30 mins, depending on the sensitivity of your skin. For an alternative, you can add a couple drops of tea tree essential oil for a soothing fragrance or add rose water to help with dry skin.

How we priced it: You can make over 70 masks from a single $8 container of powdered clay—that’s $0.11 for clay per mask. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is $6 per 32-ounce bottle, which comes out to just over $0.03 per mask.

To learn how to make your own delicious body scrub, read Free's DIY guide here.

Follow Kelley MacDonald on Twitter.