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Sometimes, while surfing the web, we’ll see a beauty tip so bizarre we just can’t help but wonder if it’s a miracle cure. Truth: It is probably not a miracle solution to any problem and is probably just as damaging as you might imagine. There’s lots of scary advice floating around the internet so be careful! We asked Pure and Simple skincare and spa owner, Ayurvedic practitioner and esthetician Kristen Ma to take a look at the most common beauty hacks and share her insight on just how awful they are for you.

Beauty Hack: Toothpaste for acne

Apply white toothpaste (not gel) directly to your bug bites or acne, allow it to dry and then go to sleep. In the morning, wash off the toothpaste.

KM: This is an old one! I actually was told to do this when I had acne as a teenager. I tried it myself against my better judgement and found that it burned and irritated my skin. This, of course, makes sense to me now as it contains sodium laurel sulfate, a drying, chemical detergent that makes skin more vulnerable along with a number of harsh antibacterials. The problem with this approach, besides its harsh properties is that it can actually exacerbate your acne. Commercial toothpastes contain petroleum, which is pore-clogging, as well as sugar ingredients, which feed bacteria.

Beauty Hack: Using glue to remove blackheads

Apply white glue to your nose, let dry, then peel off, taking blackheads with it.

KM: Why would anyone do this? It seems like a DIY version of a nose strip but there are so many problems with it. First, many glues make your skin photosensitive, so you can be making your skin more prone to sun damage. Second, adhesives contains toxic chemicals that we should not be putting on our bodies. This is why we are usually told to use glue in a well-ventilated area. Third, its not the best way to remove blackheads. Removing blackheads are done best when the skin is moist and warmed, which is why most spas will steam the skin. Then, gently and using discretion, an esthetician can manually encourage them out of your pores. It is important not to force anything else or risk scarring. The glue method, may risk ripping the skin and blackheads may not even come out if the skin is not prepared well.

Beauty Hack: Applying deodorant on your bikini line to prevent breakouts

Apply deodorant to your bikini line after shaving to prevent pimples.

KM: Deodorant on the bikini line will not prevent pimples. In fact, because commercial deodorant sticks are made with petroleum, it will clog your newly opened pores (skin that has just been exfoliated by shaving). The bikini line breaks out because it is an area on the body that has folds of skin, so skin end up pressing or rubbing against skin. When you have dry, dead skin cells, they can be kept on the area and block your pores. This pressure also can impede hair from going out straight causing in-grown hairs. So, I do find moisturizing with a petroleum-free lotion helpful as it prevents dead skin buildup. Perfumed petroleum will not prevent this. Also, if you are using antiperspirant, it contains aluminum-compounds, which I would not recommend rubbing on the bikini line as this is a place of important lymph nodes, and we absorb everything we put onto our skin into our bloodstream!

Beauty Hack: Kitty litter face mask

Mix clean kitty litter and water to make a paste, then apply to skin.

KM: Cat litter as a face mask has been recommended on the internet as a clarifying mask. It seems to be recommended as a cheap alternative to a clay mask because it contains clay-based ingredients along with dry agents that dehydrate your pet’s waste products. Litter products are designed to deodorize and powerfully dehydrate cat excrement, but our facial skin should not be dried out this intensely. Beyond this, it contains the artificial ingredient aluminum silicate, which has been linked to pulmonary disease and neurotoxicity. I would just use a natural clay instead. Many are extremely reasonable in price!

Beauty Hack: Vodka used as a toner

Use vodka as a toner to tighten pores.

KM: I never recommend alcohol as a toner because it can cause inflammation and damage. This is especially important for those with sensitive skin, rosacea, eczema or acne. While those with acne may be tempted to use such an intense drying-agent, it can make breakouts more prevalent. Our skin’s barrier function goes down when it is dehydrated, letting bacteria permeate more deeply and manifest as pimples. Drying out our skin also imbalances our sebaceous secretions and encourages it to over-produce oil. I would use a natural hydrosol, which is the water extracted from plants. Peppermint hydrosol is excellent for acne as it is a gentle anti-septic as well as an anti-inflammatory.

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