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Skin Concern


person with facial mask on


Not all skincare hacks are good for your skin or safe. You may think you are saving yourself money or have found the next best hack but be careful. You run the risk of negatively affecting your skin health long term. Some skincare hacks have the potential to do more damage than good. Absolutely, some great skincare hacks do exist but there are also a handful of not-so-awesome ones out there too. Here are our top five skincare hacks to avoid or at the very least, proceed with caution.

  1. Unsafe DIY Exfoliation

There is no shortage of DIY skincare recipes or hacks on social media right now, especially for exfoliating facial skin, from using sugar crystals to kitty litter. Um pardon… kitty litter? Exfoliation is an important part of any skincare routine. However, you should be careful if you are whipping up your own exfoliating recipe at home because you might be causing damage to your skin.

Rummaging through your kitchen pantry for exfoliation recipe ingredients? Baking soda, sugar, coffee grounds, or salt granules in DIY facials can be too abrasive for skin on your face. The angular and jagged edges of the crystals are incredibly harsh and can cause micro-tearing. When skin is overly irritated and raw, it will naturally try to protect itself and will overproduce melanin, which causes dark pigmentation in skin. It is important to remember that the skin on our face is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of our body.

Although there are many health benefits, apple cider vinegar can be potentially very dangerous if used incorrectly. Apple cider vinegar as an exfoliating agent should also be avoided as its highly acidic levels are very drying to skin, which can cause some serious long term problems for skin. There is no scientific research that proves that apple cider vinegar heals skin or treat scars. It’s uncontrolled acid content can actually cause irritation and leave chemical burns on your skin!

Please don’t make us tell you why not to use kitty litter on your face.

– Cosmopolitan
  1. Using electronic facial cleansing brushes incorrectly

Facial cleansing brushes have been around for a while—Clarisonic (which shut down last year) made a big splash in the mid-aughts with its electric cleansing brushes. – Best Health (1)

There is a large risk of using too often or incorrectly.

Using a facial brush that isn’t compatible with your skin or isn’t being used incorrectly can cause irritation and inflammation. Exfoliating too aggressively can cause dryness. Sensitive or over-reactive skin can end up with severe hyperpigmentation.

Classic signs of overdoing it with your facial brush:

  • Bumpy pimples
  • Inflammation
  • Rough patches
  • Rash
  • Dehydrated and flakey skin

Exfoliation can be achieved without the use of an electronic brush through many other safe, controlled approaches. But, if you are using a facial brush:

  • Don’t combine with an exfoliating product
  • Use at night, so you are removing the day’s debris
  • Don’t use too often
  • Get a gentle brush that works for your skin

There are plenty of facial cleansing brushes on the market. However, not all are created equal. Different brushes serve different purposes, such as targeting fine lines or clogged pores. Exfoliation can be achieved without the use of an electronic brush through many other safe, controlled approaches.

As always, listen to your skin.

  1. Using lemon juice on your skin

lemonsThis hack of lighting dark spots on skin has been around a long time. Although it does have some bleaching properties, this citrus fruit is very acidic and can alter the pH of your skin. It can strip skin of its natural oils and destroy your skin’s barrier, making it hypersensitive and prone to inflammation. It can cause irritation, dryness and peeling. Lemon peels contain chemicals that, when exposed to sunlight, can trigger serious irritation, blisters, welts and burns on skin. Ouch!

If you’re anywhere near the sun, they can trigger a chemical reaction that causes a rash, a severe (blister-level) burn, or blotches of hyperpigmentation. – Cosmopolitan (2)

Make lemonade with your lemons instead.

  1. Sunscreen Contouring

A new Tik Tok beauty trend comes out every day. Although it can be a great platform to discover new beauty ideas and products, sunscreen contouring is not a viral beauty hack that should not be endorsed.

What is Sunscreen Contouring?

Sunscreen Contouring is when you use sunscreen on certain areas of your face that you want to keep lighter while the skin that is left unprotected/less protected will have a tanned, “natural” contour (ie. a more defined cheekbone look).

It’s no secret that wearing sunscreen is essential to protecting skin from premature damage and skin cancer. You don’t want to be leaving some of your face unprotected with sun exposure. When the tan fades, you will be left with permanent skin damage that will accumulate in later years. Please… please don’t do this. Use makeup or a fake tanner if you want the Tik Tok “snatched” look.

Dr Simran Deo at Online Doctor, Zava, explained: ‘The UV rays from the sun can cause significant damage to the skin especially in fairer skin types. Sunburn and tanning is an indication there is some degree of cell damage that has occurred. -Daily Mail (3)

  1. Pore Vaccums and Extraction Devices

pore vacuumA pore vacuum is a small device that, when positioned over a blackhead, will physically “vacuum” or suction out the impurities, dead skin and debris from pores.

Although it can be effective, there are some risks associated with using pore vacuums, especially for those with sensitive skin or those who use incorrectly. Risks can include broken capillaries, significant redness, bruising, extreme dryness and hyperpigmentation.

If you have skin issues like rosacea, proceed with caution. “Some underlying skin conditions may be exacerbated by the suction from the vacuum, and it is possible to see side effects such as bruising and broken capillaries,” warns Dr. Reszko. She adds, “If you have rosacea, telangiectasias [spider veins], reactive/sensitive skin, or you bruise easily, be sure to use the low setting.” – Harpers Bazaar (4)

Be gone Blackhead!

Let’s be honest, even when you extract the blackheads, they always find their way back. This is because oil production doesn’t stop and pores naturally clog over time, even after blackheads are removed. The best blackhead prevention is to regularly use skincare products that keep pores clear.

Spot Treat a Pimple

Using a pore vacuum on a deep rooted pimple can cause irritation and cause acne to spread. Use a spot treatment instead.

“If you’re still headstrong on using a pore vacuum, Harvard MGH Cosmetic and Laser Fellow, Karen Kagha, MD, has a valuable tip before using the tool: “Use steam and [an exfoliating cleanser] beforehand to help loosen the debris,” she explains. Proper skin prep may help prevent damage to the skin and ensure you see the best results from your new tool.” – Byrdie.

Other exfoliation methods can be less traumatic, such as using AHAs or BHAs, in particular salicylic acid, and retinoids. If you are using a pore vacuum, be careful. Suction can be intense so proceed with caution or you could end up with some face hickeys! Test on the back of your hand before applying to your face.

person with nice skin


  1. Are Facial Cleansing Brushes Really Worth It? Readers Digest Best Health. Rachel Chen.
  2. 10 Internet Beauty Hacks to Avoid. Cosmopolitan. Beth Janes.
  3. Doctors’ warning over ‘sunscreen contouring’: TiKTok hack for using SPF to make cheekbones look more defined could increase risk of skin cancer. Daily Mail. Mail Online. Johnson.
  4. Do Pore Vacuums Really Work? A Derm Weighs In. Myth-busting the internet’s favorite skincare gadget. Harpers Bazaar. Lindy Segal.
  5. Are Pore Vacuums a Bad Idea? We Asked Dermatologists. Byrdie. Bianca Lambert, medically reviewed by BLAIR MURPHY-ROSE, MD, FAAD BOARD-CERTIFIED DERMATOLOGIST