Last Updated on August 9th, 2019
Egg whites are often used in homemade facial masks for treating acne1. They are cheap, they are effective, and they don’t require any special skill or expensive ingredients. The best egg white facials, however, don’t use just egg whites.
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One of the best ways to use egg whites in a facial mask for acne2 is to combine egg whites and lemon juice. The lemon juice loosens clumps of dead skin cells at the openings of pores and on the skin, and the egg white sticks to the clumps so that they can be washed off the skin.
To make the mask, you will need 3 eggs, 1 lemon, one clean mixing bowl, two smaller clean bowls, and two clean towels. A copper mixing bowl is ideal, since copper will stabilize the foam you will make by whipping the egg whites. (But don’t add cream of tartar to this mixture to make the egg whites fluffy. It’s not good for your face.)
Break the eggs and separate the egg whites, placing the yolks in one of the small bowls (they can be used in cooking) and the whites in the mixing bowl. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze the lemon through a strainer (to catch seeds) into the other small bowl.
Take about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of lemon juice and add to the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until you have a white, foamy, meringue-like mixture that begins to show peaks. Wash your hands and cleanse your face, patting it dry with a clean towel.
Next, apply the egg white mixture evenly over your face. Allow it to dry for about 15 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. Pat your skin dry with the other clean towel and inspect in the mirror.
Your egg white and lemon mask should leave your skin with a more even finish and deeper tones. It probably won’t have an immediate effect on acne blemishes, although it may loosen blackheads and lighten pimples. After you have inspected your skin, apply a light moisturizer to your face to seal in the moisture left in your skin by the mask.
Researchers have investigated the enzymes in egg whites as a source of lighteners for the skin. The lysozyme in egg white is about 20 times more active than the natural skin lightener kojic acid. Like kojic acid, egg white lysozyme helps prevent oxidation and browning of the skin3, and it helps preserve red and pink colors in the skin. It may even help reverse the black and blue discoloration of the skin that can occur after the use of hydroquinone skin lighteners in people who have a condition called ochronosis.
Many users of egg white masks report that putting egg whites on the skin leaves it feeling tighter and firmer4. That effect is due to the interaction of albumin in the egg white with salts in the skin. If you desire a tighter feel after you use an egg white mask, add up 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of salt to the egg white mixture before you whisk it for application to your face.
There is also a scientific basis for not using egg yolks to make a mask to treat acne. The yellow color in egg yolks is due to pigments known as xanthophylls. These pigments can interact with hydrogen peroxide to make your skin more sensitive to the sun. There is a tiny amount of hydrogen peroxide released by acne bacteria. There is a lot more hydrogen peroxide released by benzoyl peroxide. If you have active acne, and especially if you are using benzoyl peroxide to treat it, egg yolks can leave your skin much more sensitive to sunburn. This does not happen with egg whites.
Most eggs are free of disease-causing microorganisms, but from time to time raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella. When the egg is passing through the chicken to be laid, there can be tiny cracks in the shell that admit disease organisms5. The longer the egg is allowed to remain in the hen house before it is cleaned and refrigerated and the longer it waits in a wholesaler’s distribution center or on the shelf before it is bought, and the longer you have kept eggs in the refrigerator, the more likely it is to have grown enough bacteria to cause disease. Simply buying fresh eggs and using them right away offers excellent protection against disease6.
The egg white, however, is always safer than the egg yolk. Egg whites are deficient in iron, while egg yolks are high in iron. Like people, bacteria need iron to be healthy. You are far more likely to be exposed to a disease-causing microorganism by placing egg yolks on your skin that by placing egg whites on your skin. Egg whites also contain enzymes that can kill bacteria both in the egg and on your skin.
Allergies to egg whites are usually triggered by lysozyme, which is also the component of egg whites7 that corrects discoloration of the skin. If you have never had an allergic reaction to eggs or egg whites before, you are not likely to suffer an allergic reaction the first time you use an egg white mask for acne. However, if you use a commercially prepared egg white mask (available in parts of Europe and in Latin America), you might suffer an egg white allergy due to the addition of lysozyme to the product. Don’t use commercial egg white masks, and don’t use egg white masks if you are allergic to eggs8.
An egg white mask is a useful addition to day to day acne skincare. To cover the basics of getting acne under control and keeping your skin clear, however, you need a complete acne treatment system like Exposed Skin Care.
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