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4 Times When It’s Best NOT to DIY

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Bar of soap with honey stirrer and flowers on a blue background.

DIY projects have become increasingly popular the past few years (as anyone who has visited Pinterest lately is well aware of), and there are lots of great reasons to give them a try.

They are a great way to customize things exactly the way you like them, and when you’re making things yourself, you can use simple and natural ingredients and avoid the harmful chemicals in many store bought products – especially for personal care and household products. DIY products can also often allow you to save a decent amount of money compared to what you would spend buying a similar product at the store.

There are a few situations, though, when DIY projects aren’t the best option. In the natural health and simple living world, we can sometimes end up feeling like we have to make things ourselves if we truly want good quality products that are the best for our health.

Just like with overly restrictive diets, though, feeling obligated to DIY absolutely everything we use can really throw our healthy lifestyles out of balance (not to mention making us feel very stressed and overwhelmed!)

Here are a few of the times when the better option might be to just buy something from the store rather than trying to make it yourself at home:

4 Times When It’s Best NOT to DIY

1) When You Can’t Produce the Same Quality

A lot of the time, making things yourself allows you to make products that are better quality than products you buy at the store that have been mass produced and/or made with low quality ingredients. When you make something yourself, you can control exactly which ingredients you use and know that everything is organic and natural, etc.

There are times, though, when it can be hard to make something yourself that is as good quality as something you can buy from a store. Depending on the recipe you’re making, some ingredients that are easily available to professionals who buy in bulk might be more difficult to find in the smaller quantities you need for making things yourself at home.

And sometimes, even if you’re able to find ingredients with no problem, it can be hard to find a recipe that will work as effectively as products you buy. Laundry detergent is a great example of this. This article about why homemade laundry soaps don’t work well does a great job of explaining the differences between the effectiveness of store bought laundry detergents and homemade ones. After reading this article, I switched from using homemade detergent to using store bought for my laundry (and I was a bit horrified to think about the scummy residue that might have been lurking in my clothes!)

Homemade laundry soap recipes seem like such a great old-fashioned and nontoxic option, but the problem is that they work great if you actually want to do your laundry the old-fashioned way and scrub it with a washboard, but they don’t work anywhere near as well in a modern washing machine (and can potentially end up damaging your machine, too.)

So, laundry detergent is one example of a product that I would rather buy at the store (even if the store bought natural versions may not be quite as natural as what I could make myself at home) because having something that actually works effectively to clean my clothes is a priority to me too.

2) When Safety Might Be an Issue

Many times, DIY recipes are perfectly safe and sometimes they are even safer alternatives to buying products from the store that have harmful chemical ingredients. There are some exceptions to that, though, and there are some DIY recipes that might not really be as safe as they seem.

Even if all of the ingredients in a recipe are simple and natural, if the wrong ingredients are combined or if the finished product isn’t stored in the right way then natural products can easily end up growing bacteria since they don’t have the same preservatives that store bought products have.

Some DIY beauty recipes, like ones that are oil-based, don’t typically need any preservatives. When I make something like a solid perfume, I don’t have to worry about it spoiling quickly because the only ingredients are almond oil, beeswax, and essential oils.

The problem starts, though, if you try to add water into the mix. That’s not to say that you can never make DIY recipes that involve water, but if you wanted to make a something that combined oil-based ingredients and water-based ingredients you would just want to be a lot more careful to pay attention to the shelf life to avoid having your product grow nasty bacteria. This is especially important for anything your putting on your face like DIY eye makeup recipes or DIY lip glosses.

I always cringe when I see recipes for DIY beauty products that call for mixing ingredients together with tap water with no mention of shelf life. For any recipe that uses water, it’s always best to use distilled water and it’s usually best to store the finished product in the fridge, too, especially in the summertime, and even then the shelf life is usually fairly short if you’re not adding any type of preservative.

So, for some  DIY recipes, and especially for beauty products that you’re putting on your face, it might be a better option just to buy non-toxic natural and organic products rather than trying to make your own and having to worry about the shelf life or storing products in the fridge. It’s one thing to use a DIY facial toner that you store in the fridge when it’s summer and the coolness is refreshing, but it’s a completely different story when it’s January and you’re already freezing cold!

(Note: The Skin Deep database is a great resource if you want to look up products to see if the preservatives and other ingredients in them are safe to use. Preservatives aren’t exactly ideal, but some of the bacteria that can grow in non-preserved products can be pretty scary, so if there’s any doubt about the safety of a DIY recipe, then store bought might just be the healthier option.)

3) When It Costs More Time or Money Than It’s Worth

Many DIY projects are quick and easy to make. Some of them, though, take a lot of time or money, and we each have to decide whether the finished product is worth the effort or expense.

For me, there are some DIY projects that are really fun to make and the end result is something that is much better than anything I could find at a store. And in those cases, I don’t mind spending the time making something myself. But if making the recipe feels more like a chore and if I can find something of equal quality (or close enough to equal) from a store, then most of the time I would rather save the time and just buy it rather than trying to make it myself.

And there are other times when DIY projects might not take that much extra time, but they end up costing just as much or even more money than it would take to buy them. Some ingredients that are cheaper if you’re buying them in bulk can be a lot more expensive if you’re just buying a small amount to use at home. And for recipes that have lots of different ingredients, it can get expensive to have to buy all of them, especially if you only need to use small amounts or if it’s a recipe that you don’t make very often.

So, depending on the ingredients in your recipe and how often you’re planning on making it, it might actually end up not being cost effective to make your own and it might be cheaper to just buy those products from the store.

4) When It Makes You More Stressed

Ideally, doing DIY projects should be an enjoyable activity, whether you enjoy the process of putting the recipes together or whether you like the customization options, or the simplicity of natural ingredients, or the financial savings, etc.

But if you find yourself feeling like your DIY projects are another chore on your to-do list that you’re dreading having to do or if you feel overwhelmed by the time it takes to make everything yourself, then the stress you end up having might be just as bad for your health as any questionable ingredients in store bought products.

Being able to control the quality of the products you put on your body or use in your household can often be a great way to improve your health, but if you’re so busy trying to DIY everything that you don’t have time to rest and relax then you’ll just end up undoing any benefit you might have gotten from making things yourself.

With so many people wanting healthier options these days, there are a lot more good quality products available now then there used to be, so if trying to make your own is a stressful thing for you, then you can still find lots of natural and organic options to buy from stores or online.

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Bar of soap with honey stirrer and flowers on a blue background.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

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