When Buying Skin Care Is Better Than DIYing

sophie uliano embedPhoto: Courtesy of Sophie Uliano.
Sophie Uliano is as close to DIY beauty royalty as one can get. As the author of The New York Times best-selling books that touch on topics like living green and crafting skin-care products at home, she's made a name for herself in a very crowded space. What we like most about Uliano, though, is that she's realistic about the limits of DIYing.
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"I'm not completely an oatmeal-mask-and-nothing-else kind of girl," she confesses. Despite her DIY-star status, Uliano says she'll spend money on anti-aging products, "really beautiful moisturizers," brightening serums, products with retinol, and sunscreen. She notes that she loves brands like Tom's of Maine for the quality of their natural products as well as their business ethics.
If you, too, are DIY-minded but inclined to purchase the occasional hard-to-make product, Uliano recommends getting to know a brand before investing. "Before I buy a product, I'll go to their website and look for full ingredient lists," she says, noting that if she can't find the ingredients, "I smell a rat." Uliano also suggests checking out what the brand is doing for the community and looking for evidence of its eco-consciousness. "I want to see that there is a recyclable package or that they're partnering with a sustainable company."
Interestingly, what Uliano's not looking for in products she purchases is the word natural. She explains, "That's not a regulated word. A lot of companies say they are, but in my opinion, they aren't." She also notes that natural isn't always better, as certain ingredients like vitamin C are more stable when they're made in a lab. "Vitamin C oxidizes the moment it's exposed to light and water, so the synthetic version is more effective and potentially safer," she says.
As for what she does whip up at home? "I like to make things that are going to save money," Uliano says. If you're just starting out in the make-your-own-beauty-product world, she recommends trying a body scrub, as they're inexpensive and easy to make. "Scrubs can be made so many different ways. You can use salt or sugar, and then you can play with essential oils," she says. "Peppermint will liven you up, or lavender will be soothing. Rosehip oil is great for stretch marks, and coconut is good for very dry skin."
The bottom line: If something's going to save you time and money while still being safe to use, Uliano says to just figure out how to DIY it. But, don't feel bad about buying a ready-made product. "As long as the company shares your values, I think it's perfectly okay," she says.
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