5 Beauty Treatments You Can Do At Home—And 5 You Should Leave to the Pros

When it comes to beauty treatments, there are plenty out there that beg the question, “Should I do it myself?” Sure, there are some that are totally safe to do in the comforts of your own home. And, there are others that you should only leave to an expert for a multitude of reasons. Want to know what to do where? We’ve got all the answers right here.

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DIY: At-Home LED and Light Treatments

DIY tools and devices have been a big category ever since they hit the beauty scene simply because they’re convenient, easy to use and provide results. New York dermatologist Sejal Shah, MD, says that most LED treatments (which typically refer to red and/or blue light) can be used to help improve the appearance of wrinkles and aged skin, inflammation and acne. "They aren't as strong as an in-office light treatment, but they are a great adjunctive treatment to anything you might do at your doctor's office."

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DIY: Superlight At-Home Chemical Peels

We are huge fans of over-the-counter ultra-light chemical peel products, like Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads ($84), simply because they buff away dead skin and leave the skin looking super healthy and with a natural glow. Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, explains that at home you should only use superficial peels and nothing that’s deep and reserved for use by a professional—even if you can buy it online—because they can lead to infections, permanent discoloration and even scarring. “Weekly enzyme peels done to maintain cell turnover and keep the pores clean are fairly safe,” says celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas


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DIY: Products and Treatments With Alphahydroxy Acids

The word acid alone is enough to make some women scared to use products that contain the ingredient. But, truth be told, treating your skin at home with creams that contain alphahydroxyl acids like glycolic acid is totally fine. “As long as what you are using is buffered (meaning it’s in cream form), isn’t stronger than 10 percent and has a pH of 3.0 or higher, you can use it on a daily basis,” says celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy. “Anything unbuffered (liquid and gels) that’s higher than 10 percent and with a low pH should only be used in treatments performed by an aesthetician or dermatologist because they know how to work with these types of products best.”


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DIY: Hair Glosses

When your color needs a quick refresher and you don’t have the time to make it to the salon, an at-home hair gloss can be your saving grace. Amy Errett, founder of Madison Reed hair color, says that glosses are a quick way to boost color-treated hair, even though you may think of them as only being available at the salon. “Recent innovations bring this salon trick to an at-home treatment to quickly and fearlessly enhance the hair’s tone and refresh color,” she says. Products like Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss ($30) take just 20 minutes to amp up color-treated hair. 


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DIY: A Hair Detox

Sometimes, hair needs to be clarified and purified to remove oil, dirt, debris, dead skin and product buildup, all of which can hinder the functionality and managibility of the hair. Celebrity hairstylist Nelson Chan of Nelson J Natural Salon in Beverly Hills, says, “Hair detox treatments that remove mineral and styling product buildup can easily and safely be done at home.” Some to try: Davines Detoxifying Scrub Shampoo ($27), Brocato Peppermint Scrub ($17) and Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt ($52). 


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Leave It to a Pro: Multistep Facials

Even though you can exfoliate your skin at home and treat it with masks, Janel Luu, CEO of LeMieux Cosmetics and PurErb skincare, says that you’re better off leaving this one to an expert. “Extractions should be done by a professional instead of individuals picking at their face with their fingers or using extractor instruments that they may not be well-versed in.” Another reason to trust your facials to an expert: They can professionally analyze your skin in a way that you can’t. New York aesthetician Shellie Goldstein adds that a facialist can make the right product and treatment recommendations. “And, vital facial steps, like deep exfoliation and peels, can burn or scar your skin if you attempt to do it yourself.”

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Leave It to a Pro: Anything That’s Injected

Be it Botox, Dysport or Xeomin, a cortisone injection to take down a pimple, lip fillers or anything else that involves a needle, you always—and should only—seek out an expert. If you choose to take a needle to your face for any reason at all, you’re only putting yourself in danger—and on multiple levels. At-home injections consist of nonFDA-approved materials that can cause major risks, deformities, infections and even death. There’s no reason to even consider plumping your cheeks yourself or trying DIY Botox. “I’ve had patients purchase toxins and fillers from the Internet and have then had a cousin or their hairdresser inject them,” says Dr. Downie. “I have seen disasters from this. Toxins and fillers are for dermatologists and plastic surgeons to inject only and are not for the general public to use as at-home treatments ever.” 


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Leave It to a Pro: Microneedling

Microneedling is one of the most in demand treatments at the moment. While there are plenty of at-home versions out there, Nashville dermatologist Michael Gold, MD, says that there are so many microneedling rollers that are sold on the Internet, which can cause problems. “If you get something from a source that’s not reliable, you risk having unsharp needles, the potential for sterility issues and a host other concners. Microneedling pens shouldn’t be bought on the Internet for the same reason.” Make sure you see a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for these treatments who is well-versed in the procedure and understands how to properly operate the device. 


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Leave It to a Pro: Popping a Pimple

No matter how hard it may be to resist popping a pimple at home, you shouldn’t do it no matter what. Dr. Shah explains that when you do, the pimple can become worse rather than better. “You forcefully push the contents of the acne bump out, which can also be damaging to the skin as it is basically tearing it while increasing inflammation. Your dermatologist can safely and gently perform an extraction to remove the contents. Or, you can get a steroid injection to reduce redness, inflammation and makes the bump smaller.”


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Leave It to a Pro: Major Color Changes

Achieving gorgeous color is tricky, which is why anything that’s complicated, like balayage, ombré and even highlights, should be done by someone who really knows what they are doing. Nicole Tresch, colorist at Rita Hazan salon in New York, says bleach is one thing you shouldn’t do yourself. “You want to have a colorist do your foils. If not, you can have bleed marks and a stripey look, as well as breakage. Also, drastic color changes should only be done at the salon.”


1 Comment
  • Ella B.
    Posted on

    Regarding DIY at-home light treatments, I have an illuMask LED mask at home that I would love to try out to treat my adult acne (and wrinkles and inflammation, too, it seems!) but am hesitant as I’m worried about possible side-effects. Are there any dangers of using light to treat acne, such as scarring or sensitivity?

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