Two Single-Ingredient DIY Exfoliating Masks That Make A Visible Difference In My Skin

I use these in tandem: first a pineapple mask to clear away all the dead skin, and then a yogurt mask to lightly exfoliate and hydrate.
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Publish date:
January 28, 2014
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masks, How-To, exfoliation, DIY, enzymes, pineapple, yogurt

I realized recently I’m going to just keep getting old.

My youth stopped two years ago, when I turned 28. Total bummer. I swear to god, I woke up the day after my birthday with bags under my eyes, crow's-feet and gross, dull skin. Also: yelling something about dental insurance in my sleep.

I used to just put coconut oil on my face and everything was copacetic. Now, if I forget to moisturise for a few hours, my skin rises up and stages a revolt with dry patches and redness--especially when it’s really cold. In Alaska, we frequently have -40F temperatures without windchill.

Things get really weird at low temperatures, but the worst is probably the dryness, even indoors. Cue flaky skin and, even worse, chapped skin from a cold. Add clogged pores from dead skin and extra sebum as your face tries not to dessicate, and you can kiss whatever gasp of youthful glow you had goodbye.

To be better to my skin, I’ve started using two face masks in my winter skincare routine: Greek yogurt and pineapple.

Both Greek yogurt and pineapple are high in acid; lactic and ascorbic, respectively. They are also high in enzymes that readily break down proteinic matter. The acid and enzymes exfoliate away dead skin without drying the ever-loving moisture out of your face or having to go over sensitive spots with a scrub.

I like them because they are single-ingredient, and because they actually work. Like a noticeable, glowy difference. So many facial treatments that look cute or are fun to peel off don’t do squat for your skin.

I read about pineapple peels from Our Bodies, Ourselves, this delightfully out-of-date book that I purchased at the tender age of 12. It was written in the height of the natural-beauty revolution, and even though it touts mayonnaise as a cure-all, it has some good information in it, too.

I use these in tandem--first the pineapple mask to clear away all the dead skin, and then the yogurt mask to lightly exfoliate and hydrate.

A word of caution: Have you seen a movie where some old man, motivated by his desire for youth, goes way overboard on some form of magic or science, and he ends up as a tiny baby or a fetus, and everyone is like “Awww!” but he’s still evil, right, so what the hell? Whelp, it could happen to you.

Leaving acidic masks on your face for longer than recommended might melt the skin on your face right off, and you’ll have a red lobster face for a few hours or days. Pineapple is very high in acid. That’s why it can make your mouth bleed when you eat it--it’s chemically scouring away cells because of the enzymes. Leaving it on longer than 20 minutes isn’t a good idea, unless you want to look like a fetus. Also, if you have adverse reactions to either pineapple or milk products, this might not be the mask for you.

That said, you’ll need a brush, a bowl and a blender. I use Hawai’ian pineapples when I can; they are generally lower-acid than Central American varieties, but it really doesn’t matter. I strain full-fat yogurt to Greek consistency, but really, any Greek yogurt will do. More fat equals more moisturizing, if that’s what you’re going for.

To make the pineapple mask, throw ¼ of a pineapple, cubed, into your blender with enough water (about a ¼ cup) to get it to blend until smooth. You can then put this in the fridge, but it’s most active if you apply it right away.

Using the brush for precision, apply it to your face, careful to avoid your eyes. Dear god, do not put pineapple puree in your eyes! Leave it on anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how sensitive your skin is. I usually do 10 minutes, but if it’s a very acidic pineapple, I’ll do 5. If your skin starts to tingle or itch, it’s time to wash it off. You can drink the excess pineapple puree, or use it to make a fancy cocktail à la Danielle!

I follow up with the Greek yogurt mask. I grab my yogurt fresh from the fridge, take out about a tablespoon, and brush it on. I leave this one for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. It’s not nearly as acidic, and the fat in the yogurt is really soothing, especially after your hippie chemical peel.

After rinsing in just water, I’ll pat my face dry, and slather on some coconut oil.

I do this about once a week; in the winter it’s a good exfoliant, especially when you’ve got sensitive skin from exposure or colds. In the summer, it really takes off the sunscreen (that I know y’all wear religiously, right) and grime from driving around with your windows down.


I really prefer this to scrubs these days, especially as my skin ages and isn’t as resilient as it used to be. I feel like it visibly brightens my complexion, and gets all the crud that settles into my fine lines.

I’m working on going soap-free-ish (seriously, I haven’t used shampoo in TWO WEEKS--story on its way!) and this was such a wonderful alternative to using overly-drying face washes. Do you think you’ll try it?