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.