We’ve told you about the dangers of toothpaste, mouthwash, and undiluted apple cider vinegar when it comes to skin and hair care, and we’ve gushed over the benefits of tea bags, honey, and oatmeal. But the internet is full of crazy-sounding skincare “hacks” — seriously, skincare Reddit is a weird place — so we are back to confirm and debunk some wacky “tips” that have taken the internet by storm.
The Hack: Shaving cream to soothe sunburn
Fact or Fiction? Fact… mostly
There aren’t any studies to back this claim up, but it makes sense that this method works for people. The number one ingredient in shaving cream is typically water, which (duh) can be very hydrating. Shaving creams usually have soothing ingredients like palm oil, coconut oil, glycerin, and aloe — all of which are great moisturizers and can help repair damaged skin. Another common ingredient is menthol, which can have a cooling effect that can soothe discomfort from burns.
But, there are some caveats to this method. We’re going to sound like a broken record here, but sunburns should be avoided at all costs. They cause all sorts of skin damage — everything from melanoma to signs of aging. Just because you have a “hack” to heal your burns doesn’t mean you should lighten up on your sunscreen. Read the ingredients on your shaving cream to make sure there’s nothing that’s going to irritate or make your burn worse — added Fragrance and alcohol are two known irritants to avoid.
All that said, there are plenty of healing lotions and after sun balms that are specifically formulated to sink into your skin and heal burns, whereas shaving creams were formulated to sit on your skin for just a few minutes before they’re washed off. In other words, sure you could use some shaving cream in a sunburn emergency, but don’t rely on it to entirely heal or soothe your skin. And if it starts burning or itching, wash it off… stat.
The Hack: Rubbing alcohol to treat acne
Fact or Fiction? Fiction, for sure
It’s a common misconception that since acne is caused by the presence of bacteria, applying a strong antiseptic like rubbing alcohol can clear up breakouts. But in reality, rubbing alcohol is too strong and can irritate or dry out your skin, which is actually counterproductive to treating acne. When your skin dries out, a natural reaction is for your body to overproduce oils to rehydrate it, which can lead to even more clogged pores and breakouts. Plus, some acne, like blackheads, are actually clogged pores that aren’t caused by bacteria. So don’t listen to people who argue that diluted rubbing alcohol may be beneficial to treat acne — stick to dermatologist-approved ingredients, like the salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol in the SLMD Skincare Acne System.
The Hack: Cold showers to help acne
Fact or Fiction? Fact
It’s well known in the dermatology community that extremely hot showers can strip the skin of oils faster than a lukewarm or cool shower. Hot showers dehydrate your skin and lead to brittleness and dry skin. When your skin is dry your body then tries to overcompensate, by producing sebum to hydrate and lubricate. If you’re acne-prone, that can result in more breakouts. There are some other helpful shower hacks to prevent acne, like using products labeled “cleansers” instead of traditional soaps to help retain moisture (the SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Body Wash is a great one), and washing your most acne-prone areas after you condition your hair.
The Hack: Rosehip oil to reduce scarring
Fact or Fiction? Fact
Essential and natural oils have caused a lot of debate in the skincare community, and larger health community as well. Many providers are conflicted on whether or not they actually have health benefits, but there’s some compelling evidence that rosehip oil can actually do wonders for your skin. There is naturally-occurring vitamin C in rosehip oil, which is known to stimulate collagen production and even out skin tone. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory and contains omega-6 fatty acid, which is believed to help regulate sebum levels.
The Hack: Hydrogen peroxide for skin lightening
Fact or Fiction? Fiction, full stop
Hydrogen peroxide is great to treat burns, cuts, scrapes, and infections, but please, please do not use it to lighten skin. Hydrogen peroxide is dangerous and potentially deadly if accidentally ingested, and can damage your eyes if they come into contact with the chemical. There are more serious risks associated with long-term use, and the concentration necessary to achieve a skin-lightening effect put you at an extremely high risk of burns and scars.
Instead, use skincare products that were actually created to help lighten hyperpigmentation (those pesky dark marks) and sun spots: retinols, vitamin C, hydroquinone, and AHA exfoliators are a great place to start!
The Hack: Citrus juice as a skin brightener
Fact or Fiction? No, no, no
This one is a big no-go, according to our own Dr. Sandra Lee, otherwise known as Dr. Pimple Popper. It’s a common misconception that citrus juice can “bleach” the skin when exposed to sunlight, but it can actually do other harm, too. “Lemon, or more specifically lime, can cause a phytophotodermatitis,” Dr. Lee explains, “This is a type of rash that’s activated by the sun. It’s why people get a rash in a drip like distribution when they make margaritas on the beach and the lime drips down their arm. Crazy, huh?”
The bottom line…
Listen, we get it. DIY skincare hacks are great for saving money and making better use of some of the supplies you might already have at home. We’re just here to remind you that it’s important to know the potential risks — and sometimes outright dangers — associated with some of these home remedies. That’s why it’s best to check in with your dermatologist before you make any drastic changes to your skincare routine, even if it’s something “natural.”