DIWhy? These 3 DIY Projects Are Best Left to the Professionals

Young woman wearing dental braces.
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Like any true Penny Hoarder, I love a good bargain.

Saving a few bucks makes me feel like I’m forcing the free trade economy to bend to my will.

Okay, maybe that’s a tad dramatic, but you get the idea.

I’m also a big fan of DIY projects and homemade alternatives to store-bought products.

Sometimes, though, doing it yourself can cost you more than it saves.

Here are three DIY projects you probably ought to skip.

Wasp Nests? What?

Oak galls on an oak tree.

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I’ve seen — and tried — a lot of in-home beauty treatments in my life, but here’s a fad I’m just gonna pass right on by.

The Daily Mail (and about 7,000 other media outlets) reported that some women are… uh, internalizing a paste made of wasp nests as a DIY vaginal rejuvenation treatment.

It’s unclear if the potion is poisonous if swallowed, but that’s not really important since women aren’t ingesting it through their mouths.

If you take my meaning.

And I think you do.

OB/GYN Jen Gunther heard about the trend and wrote a lengthy blog post about it. I could quote what she has to say extensively, but I’ll simply sum up what she has to say about this DIY treatment with one word: don’t.

There are plenty of ways to pamper yourself that don’t involve raiding the contents of your rain gutters for supplies.

Instead, try making your own face mask, tooth-whitening treatment and lip scrub, or go wild and create a home spa right in your own bathroom.

Homemade Braces Are a DIY-Don’t

We’ve mentioned before that DIY braces are a thing people actually do.

Anyone brave enough to put braces on their own teeth clearly isn’t squeamish, but I nearly got the vapors simply researching this trend.

I probably don’t need to spell out exactly why DIY braces are a bad idea (and surely won’t spell out how it’s done), but just in case, I’ll let a dental professional do it for me.

If you move a tooth too fast, you can actually cause damage to the bone and gums. And if you don’t put the tooth in the right position, you could throw off your bite,” board-certified orthodontist Stephen Belli told The Washington Post.

As someone staring down the barrel of an upcoming dental procedure with a $9,000 price tag, I know firsthand how expensive dental work can be. Don’t take matters into your own hands, though. Try these options instead.

Skip the Handcrafted Sunscreen

As DIY projects go, making your own sunscreen has some of the biggest long-term consequences. Getting this one wrong could cost you your health.

Recipes for homemade sunscreen have circulated for years despite the medical community’s best attempts to dissuade people from making it.

While many DIY sunscreen recipes include zinc oxide to protect skin from dangerous UVA and UVB sun rays, there’s no way to know if you’re using enough of the protective ingredient to create an effective sunblock — unless you happen to have an FDA-certified quality control lab set up in your kitchen.

“What’s unsafe is making homemade sunscreen using ingredients without proven SPF or broad spectrum coverage in formulations that aren’t standardized or verified for their efficacy. That can leave you unprotected from the sun — a known carcinogen,” Joel L. Cohen, M.D., an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, told Consumer Reports.

Store bought sunscreen can be pricy but it’s not worth risking your health to save a few bucks. Fortunately there are a few ways to save money on sunblock, including using your flexible spending account to pay for it.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She wants to know who it was that looked at a nest full of wasps and thought, “Hey, I have an idea!”