When it comes to finding trustworthy skincare tips and tricks, the world wide web can be more like the wild wild west. Misinformation, industry regulation, the bona fide and the bogus all blur seamlessly into one on social media, making it difficult to determine which reel is real.
From viral videos by free product toting teens on TikTok, to tutorials from self-proclaimed specialists, it’s very easy to be seduced by skinfluencers in cyberspace. However, bad beauty advice and skincare trends are just as commonplace.
We’ve gone from one extreme to the other; from washing our faces with just soap and water, to saturating it with every ingredient under the sun. Routines and results are often subjective and unsustainable, but even more important to note, unsubstantiated. Don’t ever let the numbers fool you - millions of followers does not maketh a master!
“Hacks” should really be read as risks, and “do-it-yourself” is more of a warning, like “don’t-injure-yourself”. You have to trust your head over hype, as not all advice is suitable or safe for all people. What may appear to be harmless, can in actual fact lead to unhealthy habits, not to mention potentially severe skin irritations and inflammation.
Read on to learn more about the types of toxic skincare trends that are out there and why you should always approach them with scepticism and caution…
Slugging involves coating your face in Vaseline (or another form of petroleum jelly) to lock in moisture and combat dryness. Although some dermatologists have backed it, it has its issues. A common consequence of layering on a substance with such a high viscosity is that oil, debris and dead skin cells become trapped, causing breakouts. Petroleum products contain crude oil, and even though it’s not in its natural, carcinogenic state, it isn’t an environmentally friendly choice.
2. Pore strips & vacuums
Yes, we know. There’s something strangely satisfying about pulling stubborn blackheads from your clogged and congested pores - like plucking a deep-rooted hair from your chinny chin chin! Then examining them on the nose strip afterwards, is again, weirdly rewarding. Did you realise how dangerous and damaging to your skin that ripping motion can be? Counterproductive to the reason for removing blackheads, commercial pore strips tug at and open pores up even wider. They also contain chemicals and synthetics which can wreak havoc on sensitive skin. And pore vacuums are best left to the professionals. An at-home device operated by an amateur is a recipe for disaster! It can lead to redness, bruising and even broken blood vessels, plus a guaranteed exacerbation of any pre-existing skin conditions.
3. Glue to remove blackheads
Whilst we’re on the subject of getting rid of blackheads, skincare trends that involve household glues are big no-nos. Sure, it may rip out a few blackheads, but it’ll rip off a bit more than you bargained for too, like your protective top layer of skin and peach buzz. Glue can also leave behind a sticky residue which can - surprise surprise - clog your pores, rendering the whole point of the method completely redundant. Some dermatologists have even seen patients develop contact dermatitis after giving tips like this a try.
4. Sunscreen contouring
Sunscreen contouring describes using a low SPF level sunscreen on spots where you want a tan (i.e. your cheekbones), and a high SPF on the areas you don’t (i.e. the rest of your face), thus creating a contoured/highlighted look. Although sunscreen application is promoted, mixing them can dilute their effectiveness and lead to full UV ray exposure and sunburn. The same, if not better, effect can be achieved with makeup and fake tan - and it’s 100% safer!
5. Deodorant as a makeup primer
In 2018, many amateur online accounts were interested in trying hairsprays as a makeup setter. Thankfully, it was met with mostly negative press, but a similar skincare trend has reared its ugly head in its place: putting deodorant on your face as a mattifying, makeup primer. When common sense kicks in, you’ll realise that the logic is lacking, as antiperspirants are largely designed to stop you from smelling, not sweating altogether. As it’s obviously not formulated for your face and contains artificial fragrances and other non-facially compatible ingredients, it’ll most likely activate acne flare-ups, irritation and destabilise the faces natural microbiome. So, not exactly the matte finish you were after…
6. Haemorrhoid cream for eye bags
No, Preparation H is not recommended for puffiness, under-eye circles or crow’s feet. Although the primary ingredients of haemorrhoid creams (phenylephrine & hydrocortisone) are anti-inflammatories, they are not designed to be used anywhere other than your backside. Prolonged use can result in fragile, thin skin, which will only worsen the look of eye bags and wrinkles, and regularly using a product that contains a steroid is not good for your overall health either.
7. Toothpaste on pimples
It may sound like an odd one, but there used to be method in this method’s madness - note, used to be. Antibacterial agent Triclosan was a common ingredient in toothpaste and many over-the-counter acne treatments. However, in 2016, it was banned in the US by the FDA and removed from personal hygiene products in 2019 (here in Australia, it can still be used in low quantities of 0.3% or less). Toothpastes are packed full of astringents like alcohol menthol & hydrogen peroxide, which on your bare skin, can trigger sores and even chemical burns. Chances are, you won’t just end up with a parched pustule, but an irritated skin barrier to boot. Your body will overcompensate and provide more oil, therefore, blemishes will build up and the cycle will continue.
8. Coffee & Baking Soda scrubs
The term “scrub” should only be used to describe how you clean your home, not yourself. Over-exfoliation with abrasive granules can cause microtears in the stratum corneum, leaving your skin susceptible to staph infections and micro scarring. Even ground coffee is coarse, so it’s not advisable on delicate areas such as your face. Baking soda is one of a few older skincare trends doing the rounds again, and it can upset your skin’s infection busting pH balance. Baking soda with over use, can strip your skin of its acidity, leaving it vulnerable to dehydration.
9. Magic erasers for self-tanning streaks
A beauty product you can buy at Bunnings? Ok, so a red flag should be raised by now… Magic erasers are blocks of melamine foam (treated with a cleaning solution) used to get out tough stains. But on social media, women have been championing their success in evening out and removing self-tanning streaks. Not only are these hardware store sponges too abrasive for your skin, they contain chemicals that can trigger itchy rashes, burns and in more extreme cases, allergic reactions and anaphylaxis - so steer clear!
10. DIY dark spot & mole removal
The name speaks for itself. The words “DIY” and “removal” should not be used in the same sentence, unless you’re referring to jobs around the house. And they certainly shouldn’t be used when talking about skincare trends and treatments. Whilst Instagram influencers swear by herbal remedies to remove unsightly spots, you never see the after effect, when people present to clinics with sores and scars. A mole is not to be messed with, and could be a sign of something more sinister like skin cancer (which should be taken very seriously and checked over by a professional).
Here at LaGaia, we’re all about healthy and holistic skincare trends and regimes, and ingredients and botanicals backed by science, not social media!