If you’ve ever found yourself with a giant pimple and no benzoyl peroxide in sight, you may have reached for something else in your medicine cabinet. Like Colgate for pimples, the internet is full of beauty hacks that use inexpensive household ingredients to fix common skin issues. The problem is many times these miracle solutions are too good to be true and some are even downright dangerous.
Don’t get us wrong — there are many Pinterest hacks we’re huge fans of. Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, even helped us make a list of the ones she loves. But there are also plenty to steer clear of! Here are 6 beauty hacks that you should never try.
1. Toothpaste Spot Treatment
This hack is one of the most widespread skin care myths. There is a false belief that toothpaste contains ingredients that will treat pimples. While it is true that there are some ingredients in toothpaste that are also in skincare products, in toothpaste they act as a preservative, not an active ingredient.
Instead of fixing your pimple problem, that drugstore toothpaste is more likely to irritate the surrounding skin than dry out a zit. It can even cause an allergic reaction. The bottom line is leave the toothpaste for your teeth, not your skin.
2. Elmer’s Glue For Blackheads
If you were that kid in elementary school who painted your hands with glue, carefully let them dry, then painstakingly peeled away the sticky substance, we’re looking straight at you on this one.
The idea behind this “hack” is to put Elmer’s glue on the sides of your nose or chin, wait until it dries, and then peel it. The glue is supposed to remove blackheads the way a pore strip would work.
There are just two major problems — it doesn’t remove your backheads, and it can also peel off your skin.
Even though Elmer’s glue is non-toxic, it is not meant for the sensitive skin on your face and can cause allergic reactions. It’s not meant to reach into pores and pull out blackheads — which can barely be pulled out with the pore strips that are actually designed to remove blackheads. If you need to exfoliate your face, stick with trusty AHAs and BHAs.
3. Applying Apple Cider Vinegar Directly Onto Your Skin
Apple cider vinegar is a popular ingredient in natural health and it does have benefits for the skin, but what’s important to know about this grocery store staple is that it’s only safe once it’s been significantly diluted. Because it is extremely acidic, it can literally cause a chemical burn. It’s so strong dermatologists suggest a solution of 1 part ACV to 10 parts water, and even then they recommend approaching with caution due to varying levels of acidity across brands.
Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) sheds lights on this dangerous skin hack: “I actually have a patient that put apple cider vinegar on top of her cyst and when she came to me, I could see that it had scarred her skin…the acidity actually ate away at the surface and caused permanent scarring! Quite a few people use apple cider vinegar to try to get rid of skin tags, moles, even cysts…but because it’s an acid, it’s bound to do more harm than good, and people need to know that it’s capable of eating away at our skin.”
4. Mouthwash to Treat Dandruff
It seems these days that people believe anything that has antiseptic properties will cure any type of infection. It’s this general misconception that’s the reason why some websites are claiming that misting a mixture of Listerine and water on your scalp can cure dandruff.
For starters, it’s actually a misnomer that dandruff is caused by a bacterial infection — it’s actually believed to be caused by a fungal infection. In other words, the antiseptic ingredients in mouthwash would have very little, if any, effect on such an infection. Plus, an already inflamed scalp is no place for the stinging ingredients (hello mint and alcohol) in mouthwash.
5. Kitty Litter Mask
Who would put kitty litter on their face? This one shocked us too, but we couldn’t make this stuff up — some beauty bloggers actually recommend this as a cost-effective alternative to clay masks.
There are some serious flaws in this logic. For one, the clay granules in kitty litter can scratch delicate facial skin. Not to mention many clay kitty litters, even unscented varieties, contain tons of toxins designed to soak up kitty excrements and their various smells. The bottom line is that there are many inexpensive clay masks on the market, so the cost savings are definitely not worth the gamble on this one.
6. DIY Sunscreen
Skin cancer is nothing to mess with. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime and about 90% of skin cancer is associated with sun exposure.
The good news is you can cut your risk of developing melanoma in half just using SPF every day. Commercially produced sunscreens are developed by trained chemists and then put through a rigorous screening by the FDA.
We hate to break it to you, but you are not a chemical lab. When making homemade sunscreen there is no way to guarantee the ingredients are combining in a safe and effective way, thus putting yourself at risk of not being protected from the sun.
There are legitimate concerns about certain ingredients in some sunscreens on the market, such as known endocrine disruptors. However, there are plenty of non-toxic brands available at good price points, so there is really no reason to make your own and risk skin cancer down the road. This is one DIY you should leave to the professionals.
The DIY Bottom Line
Be very careful about the beauty hacks you find on the internet. When determining which beauty hacks are safe to try, make sure they come from a trusted source that has consulted with a dermatologist. Experimenting on your skin can lead to disastrous results.