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Can you make your own Tend Skin ingrown hair treatment?

Rozy asks…Can you make your own Tend Skin ingrown hair treatment?

The Beauty Brains respond:

The answer is sort of…kind of…maybe…a little bit.

Rascally Rozy’s question was prompted by this video  which shows you how to make your own Tend Skin by crushing aspirin tablets and mixing them into isopropyl alcohol and witch hazel. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as Lacey makes it appear.

What is Tend Skin and how does it work?

Tend Skin, as most ingrown hair products, uses either acetylsalicylic acid (aka aspirin) or salicylic acid to unblock the follicle by removing dead skin cells and to provide an anti-inflammatory effect. Tend Skin is a patented formula which optimizes the effect of the acetylsalicylic acid (let’s just call it ASA, ok?) by combining it with specific ratios of alcohol and polyols such as glycerin and propylene glycol. According to the patent, polyols like these are critical to proper product performance. The patent also notes that the “most effective and soothing” concentration of ASA is about 15 percent. Here, then, are the Tend Skin Ingredients along with the function of each one:

  • Acetylsalicylic Acid – active ingredient that unblocks pores and soothes skin
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – solvent
  • Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Diglycerin – polyols that help deliver the ASA and provide good skin feel.
  • Cyclomethicone – spreading agent
  • Polysorbate 80 – coupling agent

Can you really make your own Tend Skin?

Lacey’s recipe calls for 9 tablets of aspirin mixed into Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) and another 4 tablets mixed into Witch Hazel for a total of 13 tablets. Each tablet contains 325 mg of the active ingredient, Acetylsalicylic Acid, and the rest is starch which is an excipient or carrier. That means 1/2 cup of her recipe contains about 4.5% ASA. As we noted above, the optimal concentration of ASA is about 15%. So Lacey’s recipe is only about 1/3 as powerful as the product she’s trying to copy.

Couldn’t she just triple the number of aspirin tablets? It’s not that easy because there’s a solubility issue. She’s using over the counter IPA which is only 70% alcohol; the rest is water which is not a good solvent ASA. So her mixture is leaving some of the ASA undissolved. Also, all that starch she’s adding won’t dissolve in alcohol so it makes a white sludgy mess. (She even says in the video that you have to shake the product every time because it settles out.)

So there are three basic problem with this DIY Tend Skin:

1. The active ingredient concentration is too low.
2. It lacks polyols which help optimize the deliver of the active.
3. It’s gunked up with starch which makes it impossible to tell if the active ingredient is properly dissolved.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

While you can attempt to make your own solution of acetylsalicylic acid it’s difficult to optimize it to give you the best effect of treating ingrown hairs. You may save some money but you’ll also lose some efficacy. There are other ingrown hair products on the market that use the same basic technology that are much less expensive than Tend Skin. Using one of those is likely to give you better results than trying to make your own.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • rozy April 8, 2014, 11:02 am

    Thanks! It sounded fishy to me!

    • Randy Schueller April 8, 2014, 2:18 pm

      Thanks for the question, Rozy. You have a knack for finding off the wall beauty tidbits that we find intriguing.

  • Stac April 8, 2014, 12:38 pm

    Why would anyone want to put rubbing alcohol on their freshly shaved skin? Or any skin for that matter?

  • itworks November 16, 2014, 8:31 pm

    Tend Skin rocks but toner will work as well, i.e. clinique, probably anything with witch hazel as well…….

    I have had ingrowns that have been curled underneath the skin and tend skin rubbed over them pops them out right away………so one is not picking…..pls note can be drying if used to much though, but I also found tend skin to be fairly calm on sensitive skin……..

    so cool to see that it is asa, amazing the stuff you chemists come up with

    love my tend skin

  • Fyl February 3, 2015, 6:03 am

    Uh, its still makeable, though…the REAL thing. Pull up the patent, freely viewable for all. ZERO PROBLEM INGREDIENTS, ALL PENNY STUFF!

    Glycerin and Propylene Glycol are crazy common ingredients, such as carrier or for diluting ecig vape liquid (added bonus – food grade vegetable glycerin!). Even 25% VG / 75% PG mixes as called for in patent are pretty common fare. Just dont use it with nicotine mixed in.

    91% alcohol should be sufficient for any need. Patent does NOT call for anhydrous mixes and iп fact lists water as something to use to dial down the isopropanol to ~50% as likely best. And allows ethanol solutions. 100 proof vodka, anyone? (50% ethanol 50% water, food grade – probably sufficient and even milder to use on skin, consumer products favour at least part isopropyl mixes not for solubility but to avoid selling a product that might be seen as “sneaking booze in under the radar”, especially with other safe-seeming edibles as ingredients, when they are present in hazardously irritant quantities)

    Corn starch can even be tackled, should you find it to be such a bother (baby powder? unless allergic, who cares lol, it’s the one and only easy harmless filler, and 99¢ aspirin lists it as the only inactive – no microcristalline silica, no titanium dioxide, etc., and thus nasties-free!)

    ~~~~~

    As to the internet’s recipe, that takes liberties.

    This version is actually more of a variation on Soviet “universal” derm OTC ‘Salycilic Spirits’ (though Soviet medicine advises extreme caution with solutions over 2%, and offered 1% or 2% solutions to the general OTC consumer – according to folk interpretation, mostly there as an abuse deterrent, with the product itself largely interchangeable with isopropanol or ethanol first aid antiseptics). Except with added astringent witch hazel. Kinda different.

  • Morgan April 28, 2015, 4:37 pm

    What exactly is the difference from a cosmetics perspective between acetylsalicylic acid and plain salicylic acid? According to the Tend Skin patent, the acetylsalicylic acid is mixed into a solvent of 70% isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, and glycerine. The remainder is water. Wouldn’t that mean that the acetylsalicylic acid is hydrolyzed into salicylic acid in the bottle? Would any product with 15% salicylic acid work about the same or is there something about the mixture of isopropyl alcohol and and ASA that makes Tend Skin special?

    • Randy Schueller April 29, 2015, 6:55 am

      Acetylasal acid has to be chemically converted to sal acid which typically happens when you digest it. It’s not just hydrolysis and my understanding is that the reaction doesn’t covert well on skin.

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