8 Zero-Waste Face Masks You Can Make at Home

Health + Wellness
face masks
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A relaxing night in isn’t complete without a luxurious face mask – but, pampering yourself doesn’t have to mean a trip to the store for expensive skincare products. Treat yourself without the extra chemicals and waste with an organic, waste-free face mask. Homemade masks help deliver nutrients and address skin problems while using ingredients you might already have in your cabinet; and, instead of sending bananas, lemons, and avocados to the compost bin, use them for a zero-waste, DIY skin treatment.  

Wash face with a gentle cleanser before applying a mask to allow it to penetrate the skin better. Generally, the mask should be left on for 10-30 minutes for best results and to avoid irritation. Some skincare enthusiasts advocate for using a reusable silicone face mask – like this one from Honest Beauty – to hold the product closer to the skin and allow for better absorption. Once the time is up, wash your face with water and apply moisturizer. 

When preparing at home-masks, be sure to use only organic ingredients that have been thoroughly washed, and test a small amount of the mixture on your skin before applying to ensure that you won’t experience an allergic reaction. 

Aloe Vera and Cucumber Mask

Aloe vera has soothing qualities that help with itching from conditions like sunburn, eczema, psoriasis, and inflammatory acne. It also hydrates and fades dark spots on the skin, and is even shown to aid the healing of wounds

Aloe is also a great houseplant that’s easy to care for, and will yield fresh aloe for your skincare routine, saving you a trip to the grocery store. Break off a piece (don’t worry – the plant will be fine), slice it open, and scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the gooey substance inside. Blend this with a fresh cucumber, and apply directly to the face. Leave on for up to 30 minutes. 

Matcha Green Tea and Aloe Mask 

Matcha – a Japanese tea dating back to the 12th century – is revered for its numerous health benefits, including for the skin. The tea helps prevent wrinkles and treat sun damage with its stores of chlorophyll – the compound behind the tea’s bright green color – and its high vitamin K content helps reduce inflammation and unwanted puffiness in the face. Matcha’s anti-bacterial properties come from epigallocatechin-3-gallate (or EGCG) compounds, which are beneficial for acne-prone skin. 

Combine 3 parts matcha green tea powder, 1 part honey, and 6 parts aloe vera gel (teaspoon measurements will work for a single mask), and mix well. Spread the mixture across the skin and allow it to dry before rinsing off with warm water. Alternatively, add equal parts matcha powder and hydrating coconut oil to treat dry skin.

Turmeric Honey Mask

Try this turmeric and honey face mask to fight acne and inflammation. 

The use of turmeric dates back 4,000 years, and while originally used in India, it is now revered for its health benefits across the globe. The spice’s antibacterial properties help prevent acne, and its antioxidants bring out your skin’s natural glow. Some people might experience skin-staining from turmeric, so be sure to use it in small quantities. 

If you’re a skincare fanatic, you might have heard of Manuka honey as an anti-acne treatment; honey helps speed up the healing process of skin while hydrating and gently exfoliating. Raw or unpasteurized honey – in which all nutritional properties are still present – is best for skin treatment. Both honey and turmeric also help with hyperpigmentation from acne scars, sun damage, or age. 

For the mask, combine equal parts turmeric and honey (and coconut oil, if desired), and leave on for up to 20 min.

Banana Mask

If you have extra bananas on hand, mash them up for a hydrating, restorative mask. Vitamins A and C in bananas help with hyperpigmentation and acne scars, while vitamin B-6 and potassium might help with dry skin. The silica in bananas also increases the production of collagen – proteins that promote hydration and smoothness – which tightens skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. 

Leave the mashed banana on your face for 15-20 minutes; add honey for extra hydration. 

Honey Lemon Mask

Lemon contains natural exfoliants – both AHAs and BHAs, which are types of hydroxy acid – that help remove dead skin cells from the face to improve acne and blackheads, and its high pH can decrease oil in the skin. The vitamin C in lemons also acts as an antioxidant, which helps reduce skin damage, and its acids help lighten dark spots. 

Juice one lemon and add about 2 tablespoons of honey to form a loose liquid, apply to the skin for 15 minutes, and rinse. 

Avocado Mask

Many store-bought skincare products espouse their use of avocado, but you can reap the fruit’s benefits at home without the extra additives and plastic. Avocado is rich in antioxidants and vitamins C and E, and contains biotin – a B vitamin – which helps prevent dry skin. The fruit’s compounds might also protect the skin from sun damage

Mash an avocado and apply directly to skin, adding honey for additional moisture and glow, if desired. Rinse after 15 minutes with warm water. 

Apple Cider Vinegar Mask and Cleanser 

A long-time remedy for skin and ailments, apple cider vinegar works as a natural toner and acne treatment. The fermentation process of the vinegar creates acetic acid, which has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. 

Apply vinegar directly to the face with a reusable cotton round or washcloth, or spray onto the skin with a spray bottle. Alternatively, mix half a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per one cup of water and use it to cleanse the face. ACV is also a great spot treatment for acne; when a pimple begins to form, apply vinegar to the spot with a cotton swab, and its antibacterial properties might help the blemish from progressing.

Oatmeal Mask

Oatmeal isn’t just a breakfast staple, but one of the best at-home remedies for skin irritation. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration approved colloidal oatmeal – which is essentially oatmeal ground into a fine flour that can be used to create a paste – to treat eczema, poison ivy, poison oak, insect bites, and other skin irritations. By strengthening the skin barrier, oatmeal moisturizes dry, scaly skin while reducing redness and inflammation. Oats are also a good exfoliant when left whole, and can be used in place of the harmful plastic microbeads in many drugstore face scrubs. But, you needn’t purchase a costly colloidal oatmeal skincare product when you have oats in your cabinet. 

Cook oatmeal per package instructions, allow to cool, then leave on the face for 15-20 minutes. Alternatively, use the oats as a base for other beneficial ingredients, like a few tablespoons of honey to lock in moisture. For acne-prone skin, add 1 part baking soda to 6 parts uncooked oatmeal and blend. Add water until the mixture forms a paste, then apply to skin to exfoliate and clear away dead skin cells. Try pureed apple (an antioxidant), apple cider vinegar, and/or lemon juice as well.  

Linnea graduated from Skidmore College in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Environmental Studies, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, Linnea worked at Hunger Free America, and has interned with WHYY in Philadelphia, Saratoga Living Magazine, and the Sierra Club in Washington, DC.

Linnea enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors, reading, practicing her German, and volunteering on farms and gardens and for environmental justice efforts in her community. Along with journalism, she is also an essayist and writer of creative nonfiction.

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