DIY recipes gone wrong: how to fail gloriously at homemade skincare

Morning! Normally, it’s all about pretty pictures of purple clay, fragrant essential oils, and creamy body butters. That’s where we all get inspiration from, isn’t it? By looking at a gorgeous photo of a lip gloss which is so easy to make, you surely want to make one just like it yourself!

Well, how about the bad side of homemade skincare that almost no one talks about? All the failed projects and the combinations gone wrong? There’s plenty of that too, only in the background, hidden from your eyes. Honestly, who wants to look at the miserable mold facial scrubs, stinky body washes, and unappealing gray photos of failed experiments?

I figured that you might! That’s why I decided that it’s about time to share my top 6 homemade recipes gone wrong!

failed homemade skincare recipes

6.   DIY natural lip balm

The sad thing about this lip balm was that it wasn’t my first one to make ever.

I enjoy a good lip balm, I used to be nuts for them and had at least 5 in my bag at all times. After all, I was not fond of lip gloss (the term gloss is just too…glossy!) and many lipsticks dried my lips to a ridiculous amount.

So, lip balms were my drug. Different scents, flavors, colors, all for different occasions. I’m not overreacting here, I had a ton! (Do you remember Gilmore Girls? Lorelei had a whole bag of lip balms in her purse in season 1! I was so relieved to find out I wasn’t the only crazy person out there!)

Anyway, I dye my lip balms, I add different fragrances and I keep the one and only recipe I also posted here (my first vegan lip balm). I’ve always followed the same recipe to an extent, but one batch just turned out to completely wrong!

failed DIY recipes

You can’t see it well enough, but it’s supposed to be pink and cream color!

I know now that I miscalculated the quantities of candelilla wax, but I didn’t pay attention when making the balm. In the end, I had a few lip balms (that were meant as gifts!) of pale pink color (and not in a good way). They were clear, like a gel, but looked like something that had gone rotten and died months ago. They smelled of lavender but looked like a corrupt oil that had turned and began to solidify.

Lesson learned: I have overdone the recipe with the wax and didn’t add enough oils and butters. The balms were nourishing and all, but they looked awful and I couldn’t afford to give them away. I still use this same batch to this day (it was a large batch!).

Now, I always double or even triple-check my recipes. and I still get one wrong now and again!

5.   Shea butter hair mask

Yes, you can find a number of shea butter recommendations for your hair. I even wrote a post about it last year.

Shea butter is awesome. I love it in my balms, lotions, butters, you name it. The only place where I failed miserably with shea was my hair. My curly hair is a demanding thing to maintain. It loves coconut oil and a number of other oils, but it detests shea butter. I learned the hard way.

I made a shea butter hair mask (three parts shea, one part argan oil ratio) and I promise you, that was the most stubborn mask I’ve ever tried (and I tried many)! It took me forever to wash it off and my hair looked like well-oiled straw, completely untamable. I had to repeat to wash it every second day to get shea off completely. It took me almost a full week!

Lesson learned: I test it before I tell you about it. That one I failed to test (the post is now updated) and I had an un-washable sculpture of solidified shea and hair combo that smelled amazing!

Shea can only be a small part of the hair mask, not the main one!

4.   Nourishing body butter with cocoa

When you think body butter, you probably think soft and creamy, right? Well, wrong.

I ran out of shea butter (must have used it all for my hair mask!). I had to make some gifts again, and I decided to go with cocoa body butter instead of the classic shea ingredient.

Well, shea brings the creamy to the lotion, but since cocoa is also a butter (with a divine smell) I figured I’d completely substitute it for shea and make a winter lotion with vanilla, sweet orange, and other fragrances. The plan was beautiful, I love cocoa butter.

The result? Not as beautiful. Surely, I whipped the butter twice, packed into containers, made pretty stickers, and put into bags that were to leave my apartment the following day.

For some reason, unknown to me still, I decided to check the butters before they left my hands. I rarely do that.  I think, I just wanted to smell them. When I opened the containers, all the butters were solid. Completely solidified. They did keep the appearance of a fluffy ice-cream (but frozen at the same time).

failed homemade skincare recipes

A piece of whatever was left from my cocoa body butter. It looks soft, but it’s not!

Lesson learned: since it was winter, cocoa butter tends to solidify much faster than shea or coconut oil in my experience. It’s a much harder butter which also takes a lot longer to melt in the summer heat than shea. I whipped the butters from the failed project and instructed the new owners to keep them in a warm place.

From that moment on, I always double check substitutes and don’t pretend to assume how certain ingredients work. I test them out before making a recipe.

3.   My first homemade deodorant

I was so excited to make my first deodorant and to finally substitute the chemical nasty store-bought products that not only hurt my health, but the animals, and the environment as well.

So, SO excited.

I got all the ingredients. The coconut oil, shea, tapioca, baking soda, and my favorite essential oil at the time: sweet orange.

Can you already see the problem? Well, I did all as I was supposed to. I finished the mixture with 10 drops of sweet orange and waited for it to cool.

The moment of truth was a moment of denial. The truth came a bit later, in a shape of a red left underarm area and a nasty odor.

Sadly, this deodorant turned into a creamy underarm lotion that kept my skin soft, but that was about it. Also, it gave me a minor irritation after a while because I went ridiculously overboard with baking soda (I thought soda was the one that removed the nasty smell. So I added a ton instead of balancing it out with essential oils that help with that problem).

The first deodorant I ever made only came with that essential oil because I was told that’s more than enough. The baking soda was supposed to do the rest. And it did! It gave me an irritated patch of skin I was unable to cover with any other deodorant because it was itchy and burning. My other underarm smelled like an armpit of an old drunken sailor!

Lesson learned: baking soda is great in minimal amounts. Bentonite clay is even better. Sweet orange or not, essential oils are there to help with the whole odor thing and not just to smell pretty. From that time on, my main oils for deodorants are tea tree or eucalyptus. Others are addition to support their benefits.

I’ve been using this homemade deodorant with bentonite clay for the past few months and I love it. But the path that led me to it was smelly and itchy!

2.   Summer hair mist with chamomile hydrosol

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Nourishing, fragrant, and easy to make! I had all the ingredients, I made this one in a matter of minutes. A few teaspoons of argan oil, a few drops of essential oil blend (I used ylang-ylang, wild orange, and lavender), a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin, and I topped it all up with the hydrosol.

The spray was gorgeous. My hair loved it, my nose loved it, I was so happy about it.

It only took this spray a few days before developing a nasty mold that looked at me when I wanted to use it.

Lesson learned: vegetable glycerin is not a preservative. Nor are the oils in a water-based recipe. The mold didn’t look pretty. The hair mist didn’t smell of summer flowers. Far from it, actually. I had to pour it all away. Oh, and keeping the bottle in the fridge didn’t stop the nasties to start growing either!

Use a preservative!

1.   All natural fragrant shampoo

This is probably the biggest fail of them all. Yet I was so excited to make it!

Let’s take this one step at the time.

You’re probably familiar with castile soap, right? Amazon is full of it; DIY aficionados make homemade skincare recipes with it. The world has proclaimed it man’s (and woman’s) best friend when it comes to body washes, shampoos, hand soaps, solid soaps, and much much more!

Well, I got my own bottle of castile soap. I was riding the train of happiness and empowerment. I thought I could win the eternal shampoo battle for all times (after all these years, I still haven’t found the perfect shampoo for my hair)!

All the ingredients were there, I made rosemary hydrosol, prepared an essential oil blend. I ordered a new batch of argan oil and was toying with an idea of a teaspoon of castor oil, to make the shampoo even more nourishing.

I rolled up my sleeves, cleaned a pretty amber glass bottle with a pump I got a few days earlier. I carefully measured all the ingredients and began to add one by one, step by step. The shampoo smelled amazing! Refreshing, floral yet gentle.

And then, the moment of truth: I washed my hands with it first, to test it out quickly. I thought my hands were a bit dry afterward, but my hands often are dry, so I paid no mind to that.

A bit later, I washed my hair. The shampoo lathered, it rinsed off nicely, my hair smelled pleasant. I was able to comb through, more or less. After the whole washing up, I let my hair dry naturally (I always do).

There was less shine and will to live in those brown curls. I didn’t pay any attention to that.  I did have to pay attention to it the following day though.

The next day, my scalp was itchy, ridiculously itchy. My hair was oily when my hair hadn’t been as oily for the last decade at least.

Within 24 hours, my hair went from shiny locks to an oily blob on an itchy scalp. I was disappointed. Majorly disappointed.

Lesson learned: castile soap sucks! Don’t try it at home. If you do, it’s at our own risk of (temporarily) losing shiny hair. I failed to test the shampoo for pH. It wasn’t balanced properly I assume and that’s what threw my scalp and hair out of the regular. Still, don’t use castile soap.

As I’m writing this, I just realized that all my recipes could have gone wrong, but at least they all smelled amazing!

Now, it’s your turn to tell me! What’s your biggest homemade skincare failure that you’re most proud of? What went wrong when it shouldn’t? What did you learn from it?

In the meantime, Stay Wild!

failed DIY recipes gone wrong

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