10 Popular Skin Care Hacks That Do More Harm Than Good

Beauty fads have come a long way from the days of relying solely on homemade concoctions passed down through generations, often featuring kitchen pantry portions and traditional remedies. Now evolved into a booming industry driven by innovation and science. According to Statista, the skincare industry in the United States is projected to be worth $21.09 billion in 2023 and will grow by 3.42% annually through 2027.

Today, Skincare hacks seem to multiply by the day, while some may dare to coat their entire face in Vaseline before bedtime or resort to smearing their face with honey to attract bees or attempting to exfoliate with sandpaper. It might sound eccentric, but these trends are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wild beauty practices that have gained traction. 

While I personally stand by a resounding “No” to such insane beauty trends, the world of beauty has witnessed a surge in bizarre trends from both celebrities and influencers alike that have many scratching their heads. These treatments might work for some, others? not so much, with potential effects that can leave lasting damage.

Don’t get it twisted, experimenting with a new beauty trend is exciting, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Want to rock some red lipstick for the summer? Yes please… but when it comes to skincare trends that spread like wildfire across platforms such as TikTok and Reddit, promising wonders but potentially causing harm? That’s where we draw the line

Here are 10 whirlwinds of beauty crazes and it’s up to you to determine whether they deserve a spot in your daily routine or are better left in the fleeting internet sensations.

01

SPF a.k.a. “Sunscreen Contouring”

@stopiteli

I am convinced this works! #tutorial #contour #summer #lifehack #hack #beautyhack #snatched #tiktokwellness #hiddentalent

♬ original sound – Eli Withrow

 

Just because a hack becomes popular doesn’t mean it’s effective, or even safe. This is a solid tiktok favorite beauty hack that’s made the rounds for the past decade. 

Sunscreen contouring is done using the strategic placement of sunscreen to create tan lines to contour parts of the face they want to highlight, a sunscreen with SPF 30 or less is then applied to areas where bronzer is typically used, allowing some parts of the face to tan. Even worse, some people do not use sunscreen at all. The idea behind the sunscreen hack is to intentionally create tan lines across the face so they can skip their morning contour and go for a makeup-free look all summer long.

Even though it might appear beautiful at the moment, the non-protected areas are at high risk of burns, wrinkles, discoloration, age spots and cancer, making it a terrible idea.

While this hack is downright ridiculous and unsustainable, it ignores the necessary skin care practices we all know to be important—protecting yourself from the sun, at all costs.

02

DIY Masks

Aside from exfoliating and hydrating your skin, one of the major benefits of masks is creating a protective barrier on your skin, offering a concentrated dose of valuable ingredients that can penetrate more effectively compared to standard creams or topical treatments. Unless you know the perfect blend of ingredients and know how to apply them correctly, it can disrupt  rejuvenating your skin. Instead of giving your skin that vibrant and refreshed look, it might result in burns, dryness, clogged pores, or breakouts when ingredients don’t mix well.

While you may have ingredients readily available in your kitchen or pantry that seem promising for your skin, the prospect of creating your own DIY facial or beauty masks should be approached with caution. DIY masks necessitates mixing different ingredients and determining which ones suit your skin best. 

And unless you have the expertise of a cosmetic chemist, it’s challenging to know the precise ingredient concentrations and their compatibility. To be on the safe side, test a small area of your skin before applying it all over your face.

03

 Slugging

Ever heard of the recent K-Beauty sensation?

For those hearing it for the first time, “slugging,” as you might suggest, sounds like some bizarre spa treatment involving slippery snails making their way across your face. But in the world of K-Beauty—it’s all about coating your skin with petroleum jelly before bedtime. This internet-favorite hack claims that smearing petroleum jelly as the final step in your nightly skincare routine results in incredibly soft and hydrated skin imaginable when you wake up.

Petroleum jelly is widely known as an occlusive ingredient, meaning it creates a barrier on your skin to help lock in moisture. So while it will be able to lock in the natural moisture from the surface of your skin, (leaving you with a softer, more hydrated complexion in the morning), it offers zero moisturization of its own, completely blocking your pores making it a bad idea for people with oily/sensitive/acne-prone skin. Plus some active ingredients  like retinoids, beta hydroxy, or Alpha hydroxy acids don’t work well with slugging when they are trapped in with petroleum jelly.

04

Astringent Toners

It’s common knowledge that the best skin care routine for maintaining healthy skin involves a routine that includes cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. But if you’re using an astringent toner to cleanse your skin or remove makeup, you’re missing out on a crucial step in your skincare routine. Here’s why;

The role of toning in skincare is often misunderstood by many. Instead of merely cleansing or purifying the skin, a toner should focus on adding hydration and soothing elements. It’s more about restoring and balancing the skin’s pH levels.

Traditionally, American toners have been astringent, aimed at removing residual, oil, dirt, and impurities left on the skin post-cleansing. 

Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, co-founders of Glow Recipe, highlighted the difference in Korean toners in an interview with Byrdie, emphasizing their hydrating properties as the primary purpose for skin treatment.

Using an astringent toner solely for cleansing or makeup removal overlooks the fundamental aspect of toning in a skincare regimen. To truly benefit and balance your skin, opt for toners with hydrating elements and skin-nourishing antioxidants such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. 

05

Toothpaste Pimple Treatment

We’ve all been there —or perhaps, most of us—slapped with unwelcome pimples right before an important event. And you might have heard about the toothpaste trick to zap that zit overnight. However, like many DIY skincare hacks, using toothpaste for pimple treatment can backfire.

Using toothpaste as a pimple treatment might seem like a quick fix, but it can make it worse, not better because toothpaste is formulated for teeth, not the delicate skin on your face. Toothpaste contains powerful ingredients designed to strengthen tooth enamel and fight tartar buildup. When applied to the skin, these ingredients can be too harsh and may lead to inflammation, redness, burning, and irritation. Instead of helping, toothpaste can exacerbate the issue, making the pimple and the surrounding skin even more irritated.

So, don’t reach for the toothpaste just yet, you might want to consider a quick chat with your dermatologist to guide you into safer and more effective acne treatments that are specifically formulated for your skin type.

 

06

Microneedling

Mesotherapy microneedle, the woman at the beautician

 If a popular skincare technique that involves pricking your skin with teeny, tiny needles all in the name of turning back the clock makes you flinch, you’re not alone. Sounds like something out of a horror movie, right? Well, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic.

Microneedling, though a popular skincare technique, can make skincare worse rather than better. It involves tiny needles pricking the skin to stimulate collagen and elastin production, which, if not done correctly or on suitable candidates, can lead to adverse effects.. 

While it can improve skin texture, the U.S. food & drug administration (FDA) wants you to know it’s not for everyone. The risks include bleeding, bruising, redness, itching. Plus, some people may experience discoloration, cold sores, swollen lymph nodes, or even skin infections. If you have certain skin conditions, are on specific medications, or have a tendency for skin issues, microneedling might not be for you. So, it’s essential to consult a dermatologist before taking the microneedling plunge.

07

 Activated Charcoal Products

Charcoal is a black powder made from materials like coal, wood, or coconut shells activated through a heating process that expands its surface area, making it highly absorbent, allowing it to trap toxins and chemicals.

The skincare hack of using activated charcoal in face masks or cleansers gained popularity due to its toxin-absorbing properties. However, while activated charcoal has gained popularity as a viral skincare hack for its detoxifying properties, it can do more harm than good for several reasons. 

First, its effectiveness in skincare is often unproven, and it can have different effects depending on skin types. A dermatologist shared  that it can be too harsh and lead to excessive dryness, irritation, or even worsen certain skin conditions, especially with frequent use, due to activated charcoal’s intense absorption that’s capable of stripping the skin of natural oils and moisture, leading to excessive dryness, irritation, or potentially disrupting the skin’s natural balance.

For these reasons, using activated charcoal in skincare without professional guidance can be risky and counterproductive.

08

DIY Scrubs

DIY exfoliation scrubs are a fun and budget-friendly way to achieve smooth skin, removing dead skin cells, unclogging pores, and helping the skin better absorb skincare products. While you can find tons of tutorials online, if not properly done, it can have a reverse effect long term, despite its good intentions. 

Many homemade scrubs use ingredients like sugar, salt, or ground coffee that have uneven and sharp particles that can create microtears in your skin. These tiny injuries can lead to irritation, redness, dryness, redness, and make your skin more susceptible to infections.

Additionally, some DIY scrubs may contain ingredients like lemon juice or baking soda, which can turn out to be rough disrupting your skin’s natural pH balance and lead to dryness or excessive oiliness.

For safer exfoliation, consider using exfoliating products with mild ingredients that can effectively remove dead skin cells without the risk of harming your skin. 

09

Deodorant as Face Primer

Yet another irrational, and questionionable beauty fad. Using deodorant on your face is dangerous. There are a lot of strong chemicals like parabens in deodorant that can further irritate sensitive facial skin. Chemicals absorbed in and on the skin can sink deeper. 

If you’ve ever gotten deodorant on your hands, you might be familiar with the drying feeling. Deodorant is not made for the face. The aluminum (which is linked to several health issues) in deodorant is meant to block cells that produce sweat, and when that happens, sweat comes up behind it, it gets stuck, which results in clogging your pores. 

Deodorant might be tolerant for your armpits but it’s not something to mess with on your face. Even without the aluminum, it can dry up your poor skin. More research is probably still needed to investigate the risks of using deodorant and antiperspirants with aluminum; However, there’s been a connection to bone disease, dementia, and cancer. 

There are many products on the market that can reduce your oil production the right way and treat it at the source. You might be better off seeing a dermatologist if you are worried about your acne, and recommend solutions that will work for you.

10

Iced Water Facials

Here’s a trend that has gained popularity over the years. This involves submerging the face in ice-cold water or applying ice cubes directly onto the skin. This practice is believed to tighten the pores to stimulate collagen production, and tone your complexion. Some might even suggest dunking your face 3 times in a bowl of ice for as long as you can.

Yes, cold temperatures constrict your capillaries and stimulate blood circulation, helping to reduce puffiness while improving the texture of your skin. 

But while this treatment can help improve radiance, dunking your face in iced water for too long can, in fact, have the reverse effect. You might be facing a serious case of irritation and redness. And more importantly, if you have rosacea, this is definitely not for you. 

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