Cost Comparison of Retail versus DIY Skincare Products by Deborah Tosline


Deborah Tosline wrote and published “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” in 2015. Her approach to skin care is based on a scientific background, love of research and over 30 years of DIY skincare experience.

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Have you integrated at least one Do-It-Yourself (DIY) facial skin care product into your routine? If you have, good for you! If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

There are many reasons to begin DIYing skin care products including: save (a lot of) money, use high quality ingredients, reduce exposure from synthetic and Petro-chemicals, and reduce waste and recycling to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

This article provides a simple and quick comparison of retail purchases and DIY products to illustrate ways to save with DIY. This is not a comprehensive analysis.

Let’s look at facial cleansers as an example.

I have not purchased a facial cleanser for over 10 years. Instead, I’ve been using the Oil Cleansing Method and a micro-fiber or raw silk wash cloth for all facial cleansing.

Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)

The OCM combines castor oil with another carrier oil of choice. Castor oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties, is healing, and cleansing. The OCM works on the concept that like dissolves like. The OCM dissolves natural skin oils hardened with impurities, unclogs pores, eliminates blackheads, and removes peeling skin that may result from cosmetic dermatology treatments or the use of strong cosmeceuticals. 


As dirt plugs are removed and unclogged pores begin to function properly, they may overproduce the skins natural oils and result in some skin purging. With time, the skin will adjust to the use of OCM and begin to function normally. The skin will also become less red and irritated as dirt and blackheads are removed. 

The OCM may be used daily to cleanse and remove makeup, sunscreen, and the day from your face. Massage the oil blend into the face and neck for about five minutes. You may feel the small hard oil plugs that are removed from your pores as you massage. Rinse thoroughly by vigorously massaging warm water over your face and neck and rub dry with a towel. If desired, you can use a physical exfoliation method, like a microfiber facecloth or face scrubber, to remove residual oil from the skin. After the OCM, follow your normal evening skin care routine. In the morning, simply rinse the face with water before applying daytime skin care products. 

Use the OCM daily or a couple times a week or month, depending on your preference and follow it with a good scrub using a microfiber cloth. Other nights, use only the microfiber cloth to scrub every inch of your face and neck; to perfectly clean your face.

The OCM blend was costed out using the highest quality sustainably sourced ingredients, (thinking of the Earth and workers here). These organic, naturally processed oils are not extracted with solvents, alcohol, or other chemicals. Store these oils in the refrigerator to preserve. You may reduce the DIY costs by using other brands but try to buy the best ingredients for your health = beauty. 

Oil Cleansing Method Ratio of Castor Oil to Other Oil

Oil Cleansing Method Ratio of Castor Oil to Other Oil

To make 4 oz of OCM for oily skin use 1.2 oz castor oil (4 oz * 0.3) and 2.8 oz of grapeseed oil (4 oz * 0.7). 

An 8 oz bottle of grapeseed oil will make a total of 2.8 - 4 oz bottles (8 oz / 2.8 oz) of OCM for oily skin.

A 16 oz bottle of castor oil will make 13 – 4 oz bottles of OCM for oily skin. 

The remaining 10 oz of castor oil may be used in future OCM batches or for its naturopathic healing properties.

Facial Micro-Fiber Cloth 

I’ve used a hand-crafted Raw Silk Noil Wash Cloth for many years to remove makeup and for facial cleansing. Raw Silk Noil Washcloths are hypoallergenic and antimicrobial. They are light, dry fast, and provide a strong yet gentle physical exfoliation. I scrub my facial skin vigorously every night. To me it feels like the proteins in the silk cloth emulsify the skin oil to deeply cleanse. I use a bit of aloe vera gel (I use the leaf and have not tried retail aloe vera) to remove any remaining makeup.


I use my silk wash cloths rigorously and three will usually last a year or more before I facially scrub them to pieces or lose while traveling.

Cost comparison between Retail and DIY facial cleansers (rounded to nearest dollar)

Retail facial cleansers

A quick (not comprehensive) search for facial cleanser costs identified a price range of $7.09 to $90.00 for cleansers. Cleansing devises/tools were not included.

$44 is the average cost of 17 retail facial cleansers.

OCM Ingredients

$10 for 16 ounces (oz) of Organic Castor Oil

$18 for 8 oz of Organic Grapeseed Oil (or use oil of choice)

Cost to make OCM

$38 to make 2.8 – 4 oz bottles of OCM using grapeseed oil and castor oil +$10 shipping.

$38 / 2.8 – 4 oz bottles = $13.57 per bottle.

Cost for Silk Cloths

$24 for three silk wash cloths.

Total cost for one-year of retail facial cleansing 

$264 to purchase 6 retail facial cleansing products in one year (using the $44 average calculated cost).

Total cost for one-year of DIY facial cleansing 

$62 to make 3 bottles of DIY OCM and purchase 3 micro-fiber.

Conclusion – Retail vs DIY Facial Cleanser

Under this scenario the buyer saves about $200 in one year by using the OCM and micro-fiber cloth instead of purchasing a moderate priced retail facial cleanser. Wow! In addition, you know exactly what is in the DIY product. Simple ingredients for premium results.

Buy or DIY an expensive cream

Crème de la Mer

Crème de la Mer was developed by Max Huber, a German-born aerospace physicist, who experimented with sea kelp to heal severe burns that he had experienced in an accident. He invented a product that “healed his wounds and restored his skin to such lustrous health that all evidence of the accident was erased.” Huber began selling his “Crème de la Mer” in 1965. Estée Lauder later purchased the brand for its luxury skin-care company. 

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Due to the high cost of Crème de la Mer, skin care enthusiasts have developed mock versions of the cream. Do an Internet search to find DIY Crème de la Mer recipes. One DIY version adds the la Mer secret ingredient Sea Kelp Bioferment (SKB), lecithin, panthenol, and lime or lemon essential oil to Nivea cream (purchase Nivea made in Germany). Seems kind of easy. I add SKB to DIY serums and hand-crafted locally made creams but SKB may be added to any cream that you currently use.

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Cost comparison between Retail and DIY “Crème de la Mer”, (rounded to nearest dollar)

Retail Crème de la Mer 

$180 for one-ounce of Crème de la Mer 

DIY la Mer ingredients

$10 for 13.5 oz of Nivea (from Germany)

$25 for 17.64  oz of Sea Kelp Bioferment

$27 for 8.82 oz of D-panthenol

$4 for 16 oz lecithin

$7 for ½ oz lemon essential oil

  • Add one oz (or as much as you want) of SKB to 13.5 oz of Nivea.

  • Add 1 - 5 percent (%) d-panthenol, for example if you make a 14.5 oz batch (nivea + SKB) you would add 0.145 oz (1%) or 0.725 oz (5%) d-panthenol. Tough to measure, so convert ounces to milliliter’s using this ratio 1 oz = 29.6 mL. 0.145 oz * 29.6 mL = 4.3 mL (1%) or 0.725 oz * 29.6 mL = 21.5 mL (5%) d-panthenol - use a medicine dropper to measure.

  • Add a few drops of everything else to the blend

We are not aiming for perfection, instead we are finding a way to use quality ingredients to convert an average cream into a premium cream.

Total cost for one-year of Retail Crème de la Mer 

$4,320 to purchase 24 oz of Crème de la Mer in one year because who uses 1 oz of cream per month? Doubled for average usage.

Total cost for one-year of DIY Crème de la Mer 

$77 to DIY 24 oz of mock la Mer cream in one year. 

In addition, the remaining ingredients may be used to continue making mock la Mer into the near future.

Conclusion - Retail vs DIY Crème de la Mer

Under this scenario the buyer saves about $4,243 in one year by making a DIY mock la Mer instead of purchasing the exorbitantly priced retail Crème de la Mer. Wow!

My favorite DIY skin care products are serums! I will have to cover those another time!

I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article, although I do purchase products from them.

If you need more information, go to the library, search the Internet, read my past Blog articles, or get my book “Skin Remodeling DIY: An Introduction to the Underground World of Do-It-Yourself Skincare” 

Take good care of yourself. xo


This article is intended to be used as general information only and is in no way intended to replace medical advice, be used as a medical treatment program, diagnosis, or cure of any disease or medical condition. There are no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding the effectiveness of the practices described in this article. Products or substances discussed herein are for educational purposes only and are not intended as recommendations of the author.