10 Beauty Hacks That You Should Not Try at Home
Slowly step away from the internet . . . after you read this, of course. For many of us, Instagram is our beacon of beauty light, our trend report, and our personal beauty tutor. It can also steer us down a hopeless path to bad skin and unwise makeup decisions. While we all love a good hack — especially when it can potentially shave money and time off of our routine — they aren't always the smartest ways to save. There's a wealth of good that can be found in DIY beauty feeds and genius makeup ideas from some of our favorite gurus, but some things should never, ever be tried at home. Like, ever. We asked three dermatologists to weigh in on the potential hazards of 10 beauty hacks that have collectively gathered millions of views, or probably tons of tries.
Lemon Lime Deodorant
The Hack: Smearing lime juice on underarms to lighten and deodorize.
Safety First: Both lemons and limes are quite drying and can cause irritation. "Further, many citrus fruit can cause something called phytophotodermatitis, also now as "lime dermatitis." It results in hyperpigmentation in the affected area and it is caused by the interaction between photosensitizing elements in the fruits and UV light," explains Michelle Henry, MD, Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Tomato and Sugar Scrub
The Hack: Covering a cut tomato in sugar and using it as a facial scrub.
Safety First: Citric acid is a beta hydroxy acid that is found in tomatoes. It can actually help with acne and infuse antioxidants into skin. The sugar is the bad guy in this equation. While it may seem like an ideal exfoliant, the crystals can be too rough and abrasive for your face. It can create microabrasions or irritation — especially if you already have sensitive skin or have blemishes or breakouts. Stick to exfoliants that are specifically made for facial skin.
The Hack: Swiping deodorant on your face in place of makeup primer to control oil and sweat.
Safety First: "Deodorant contains aluminum chloride and other ingredients that can be very irritating and drying to the skin. Invest in a real primer or a BB cream that can multi-task," suggests Dr. Sejal Shah an NYC Cosmetic Dermatologist and founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology.
The Hack: Replacing setting powder with less expensive corn starch.
Safety First: Cornstarch feeds the natural yeast that lives in the skin so you may end up with yeast overgrowth which can appear as bumps and rashes on the face. Stick with regular setting powder instead.
Potato Peel Brightener
The Hack: Sliced potato and olive oil to brighten dark spots.
Safety First: There's more benefit in the meat of the potato than the peel, but the peels do have mild bleaching agents that can help clear dark spots. Known for being rich in Vitamin C and having anti-inflammatory properties, potatoes can help brighten and de-puff skin. The concern here is in the application and removal process. The olive oil is critical in keeping the skin from essentially peeling off when removing. While this hack overall isn't totally risky, it's probably best to stick with a brightening sheet mask instead.
Floss Pick Pore Purifier
The Hack: Clearing clogged pores using dental floss picks.
Safety First: "Using floss picks to remove blackheads can cause micro skin injuries and infections," says Dr. Dendy Engelman. She adds that persistent inflammation can destroy collagen and cause enlarged pores. So while you may be blackhead free, you could create other unsightly skin issues that just aren't worth it.
Lemon Salt Scalp Clarifier
The Hack: Using a combo of lemons and salt to help clear dandruff.
Safety First: The skin on your head is an extension of the skin on your face and should be treated with the same level of care. "Lemons are antiseptic and antifungal so they may help combat the fungus that can cause dandruff called malassezia furfur," says Henry. However, she also notes that the combination of lemon and salt is excessively drying. Not only can the acidity of the lemon irritate the scalp, but both the lemon and salt can suck all the moisture from the scalp and the strands growing from it — and dryness can lead to breakage. "I would not try this without using a rich deep conditioner afterwards," says Henry.
Mouthwash Dandruff Fighter
The Hack: Applying mouthwash to the scalp to get rid of dandruff.
Safety First: Experts have agreed that the antifungal and antiseptic properties in mouthwash might make it effective in helping to soothe mild cases of seborrhoeic dermatitis, better known as dandruff. "However, they are super drying and caution must be taken to reduce irritation to the skin and scalp," says Henry. An already irritated scalp that may be sunburned or cut from scratching to ease itching, can be further aggravated by the ingredients in mouthwash. Overall, the benefits seem to outweigh the hazards, but if you are going to try this, Henry recommends diluting the mouthwash with water.
Glue Blackhead Stopper
The Hack: Replacing pore strips with school glue to remove blackheads.
Safety First: This is just a bad idea, kids. Similar to the floss pick method, smearing glue on your face in hopes of clearing pores can lead to micro skin injuries. It's possible that one try won't do too much damage, but is it really worth the risk? There are a gazillion pore clearing masks that are safely meant to do exactly what this hack does.
Lemon Soda Exfoliation
The Hack: Using a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda as a face exfoliator.
Safety First: "This combination can severely burn and damage your skin," says Shah. Instead, she suggests trying one of the numerous other brightening or lightening ingredients options like vitamin C, glycolic acid, and retinoids. If brightening is your concern, Shah says that it's best to discuss options with your derm.