Homemade Aspirin Mask–Revisited

The amount of money I’ve spent over the years on facial masks is, to put it bluntly, horrific.  I’m a long-time sufferer of cystic acne, a skin problem that has plagued me for nearly a decade.  To fix this problem, I’ve tried everything imaginable (from pills, to cleansers, to moisturizers, to, of course, facial masks) and paid a hefty price to do so.  Yet, surprisingly, a cheap, homemade solution, the aspirin mask, has helped more than any other mask I’ve used.  The great thing about this mask is that you use ingredients you’d commonly find at home (or are very easy to get at the drugstore or grocery store).  I’ve modified the classic formula to include ingredients that are helpful for both acne and aging skin.  But, you can tailor this formula to address your specific concern.

Basic Mask

What you’ll need:

– two or three non-coated aspirin pills

– one or two spoonfuls of dry milk

– a spoonful or so of honey

– a tablespoon of regular brewed coffee (not decaf)–the stronger the better!


1) Put the aspirin pills in a small bowl and pour coffee over them.  Allow the pills to soak for a minute or two until they dissolve into a grainy mixture.

2) Add honey and stir until blended.

3) Stir in the powdered milk until the mask reaches the consistency you desire.  Using powdered milk results in a thicker mask that is easier to apply and that stays in place much better.

4) Using your fingers, gently apply the mask to your face and neck area, massaging gently in a circular motion.  Avoid your eye area!

5) Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes, then gently remove with warm water.  Be careful not to scrub too hard!

Voila!  A frugal yet effective mask all in the comfort and ease of your own home!

Why this works

You might be as (pleasantly) surprised as I was to find that this mask actually does a fabulous job of exfoliating your skin and clearing out blemishes.  Why?  Well, for starters, aspirin is basically salicylic acid in pill-form.  Since you can generally find a big bottle for $1 or so, it’s a cheap way to incorporate this acne-fighting ingredient into your skincare regimen (last time I checked, even the generic brand salicylic acne creams were selling for $5!).  The texture of the pills, when dissolved, works well as an exfoliator and, in my opinion, does as good of job exfoliating as more expensive brands I’ve tried (like Philosophy’s Microdelivery Peel for $68 and Mary Kay’s Microdermabrasion Kit for $55–yes, I’ve tried and paid for both of these in the past!).    Salicylic acid is not just good for acne, though.  As a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), it’s fabulous for aging skin and helps with sloughing off dead skin cells.

Milk (even dried) contains lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), which is used in scores of anti-aging and anti-acne skincare products because of its exfoliating and skin-renewal properties.  This ingredient is especially good for cystic acne and other blemishes.

Honey contains antibiotic ingredients that can help kill the bacteria that causes acne.  It is also an anti-inflammatory product that can reduce the size of lifespan of pimples and cysts.  Added to that is the fact that it also allows the mask to cling to your skin better. Coffee contains a whopping dose of antioxidants, which help fight aging and damage caused by the sun.  The caffeine in coffee also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients, perfect for combating acne.

Variations for Specific Needs

The beauty of this recipe is that you can be creative and tailor it to match your needs.  Maybe you’re struggling with pimples and blackheads or you’re more interested in using the mask for anti-aging purposes.  Whatever your concern, the following ideas will help you customize the aspirin mask to fit your needs.

1) Acne-Busting

– If your primary concern is acne, add a few drops of tea-tree oil to the mask and be sure not to over-scrub your face.  If you have pets, be careful to keep them away from the tea-tree oil!  Witch Hazel, readily available at drugstores, helps to clarify and tone your skin as well.

2) Anti-Aging

– Perhaps you are more worried about anti-aging than acne.  If so, add some Vitamin C powder (or crushed Vitamin C tablets).  Vitamin C will help firm and tone your skin.  Vitamin E is another antioxidant that you can add to this mask to help firm up your skin.

3) Moisturizing

– If your skin is being hit as hard this winter as mine, you need moisturization!  This mask is easily modified to provide soothing and moisturizing relief from harsh winter conditions.  Simply add a bit more liquid to the original formula and more powdered milk.  A tablespoon of Jojoba oil would will also ramp up this mask’s moisturizing benefits.  You can even mix in a few squirts of your favorite moisturizer.

4) Other Additions

This mask is versatile enough to meet any skincare concern.  You can incorporate the following ingredients to customize this mask to address your particular problem:

– Green Tea Brew: Like coffee, Green Tea has antioxidants that help fight aging and promote renewal in your skin.  You can use green tea in place of coffee or along with coffee.

– Essential Oils/Extracts: Rosemary extract, Lavender oil, and other essential oils and extra make great additions to this mask.  You will often see these types of ingredients in high-end (expensive!) masks; by going to your local health food store or shopping online, you can usually find these ingredients for a great price.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless!

Total Cost

Clearly this mask is cheaper than anything you can buy at the store.  But, what is the final cost?  I’ll use the cost of enough ingredients to make this mask 15 times.  For coffee, I am assuming that you are using the cheapest stuff out there (you can even use instant, as long as it is caffeinated!).

– Aspirin $.90 for 50 ($0.06/mask)

– Coffee $2 ($0.14/mask)

– Honey $3 ($0.20/mask)

– Milk $3 ($0.20/mask)

Total: $0.60/mask

My estimates for the cost of ingredients are high–my own cost for each mask is under $0.50.  But, it’s clear that this is a budget-friendly beauty tool that does a fantastic job addressing several skincare concerns!


1) Wear sunscreen!!!  Though this mask will likely not burn or tingle as much as other masks or exfoliators you’ve tried, it still leaves your skin more susceptible to damage from the sun.  Make sure to wear sunscreen after using this mask (and, in general).

2) Don’t overdo it with the aspirin mask.  The first time I did this, I used 5 aspirins because I figured the more I used the better the results.  Wrong.  Little did I realize that the aspirin, even though it’s not being ingested, is still absorbed into your body through your skin.  So, I would highly recommend sticking to only two or three pills.  Also, don’t use the aspirin mask if you’ve taken a pain reliever earlier or use a medication that prohibits the ingestion of aspirin–they may interact!

3) Use this mask twice a week at most.  Your body can build up a tolerance to the aspirin that diminishes the effect of this mask. Using it once or twice a week at most will help ensure that you can use and enjoy this mask for years to come.

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