9 Beauty Lies The Internet Told Us — And The Real Truth

Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
The Internet can be a treasure trove of genius beauty tricks — but it can also be a minefield of misinformation. We've all found a great idea for an at-home hair mask here, or DIY acne treatment there, but just how effective (and safe) are those tips you pick up on message boards and blogs? Frankly, many of them can seem a little too good to be true to us, and according to Dr. Jeff Benabio, a San Diego dermatologist and consulting skin care expert for Dove Men+Care, most of it is.
We asked the good doctor to talk about some of the most pervasive primping "cures" on the Web and if they really are as effective (and safe) as the legions of fangirls say they are. From banana peels for acne to using a Sharpie to line your eyes in a pinch, here are the down and dirty deets on the biggest beauty lies that the Internet has made the gospel truth.
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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can remove self-tanner mistakes.

Reality: It sure can, along with the top layers of your skin. Many people (and at least one well-known beauty authority) thought that because the material of this cleaning wonder was similar to that of the self-tanning remover sponges, that it would do the job just as well for a lot less cash.

"This product is designed to remove dirt and grime from hard surfaces such as doors and bathroom tiles," says Dr. Benabio. "It's a harsh abrasive that can wreak havoc on your skin, stripping off the natural oils, and potentially causing irritation, burning, rash, or worse. Plus, the product comes with a warning to not use it on your skin because cleaning products aren’t designed to be used on human skin. Try an exfoliator that can remove some of the excess colored spots, and remember to always exfoliate before using self-tanner to start with a smooth base." So, let's leave the bald guy out of our beauty routines from now on, mmkay?

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: Banana peels can help get rid of pimples and acne scars.

Reality: The theory behind this natural remedy is that because acne is technically inflammation and a skin irritation, pressing a ripe banana peel against your pimples will help soothe the skin and shorten the lifespan of the zit. If only: "There is no evidence that banana peels or any other fruit peel will help fade acne marks," says Dr. Benabio. "There are some over-the-counter fading creams that might help with light marks, but more often than not, you need more aggressive (and expensive) treatments such as chemical peels, prescription fading creams (hydroquinone), a retinoid (tretinoin), or laser treatments. Most brown spots from acne will fade eventually on their own, but it takes months." Womp womp.

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: If you need a long-wearing eyeliner (or lipstick, or brow pencil), just use a Sharpie — they're non-toxic, so they won't be harmful.

Reality: Guys, come on — common sense says this will end badly, for a multitude of reasons. "This is not a good idea, particularly when there are hundreds of affordable eyeliners, eyebrow pencils, and lip liners on the market that have been designed for the skin and tested to be safe," says Dr. Benabio. "Sharpies, unlike makeup, have not been designed to use on human skin and are not safe. Moreover, you risk getting the marker in your eye, which can cause an irritant conjunctivitis." Don't feel bad: Even Taylor Swift got hoodwinked by this one.

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: Your skin and hair get used to the ingredients in your products, so you need to switch them up to get the best results.

Reality: "It’s not that your skin and hair get used to products," says Dr. Benabio. "It’s that your hair and skin change — due to aging, weather, travel, hormonal changes, medications — making the product less effective. For example, your lightweight body lotion may work well in warmer months when there’s a lot of humidity in the air, but come wintertime, you notice that your skin is dry and itchy despite using the moisturizer. You think it’s because your skin has gotten used it to. It hasn’t — it’s that your skin has changed and become drier because of the lower humidity. So, you’ll need a more moisturizing lotion and you should also use products that have moisture built in."

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: Preparation H is a pro secret weapon for getting rid of puffiness under the eyes.

Reality: We've always hated this little trick, mostly because the thought of smearing hemorrhoid cream around our eyes gave us the willies. According to Dr. Benabio, there is some truth to this one: "Preparation H contains phenylephrine, a powerful constrictor of blood vessels. It helps hemorrhoids by constricting the blood vessels, squeezing the blood out of the hemorrhoid, and causing them to shrink. In theory, Preparation H can do the same thing for your puffy eyes. The phenylephrine will constrict the delicate blood vessels under your eyes squeezing the fluid out and reducing the puffiness."

But, just because it can work, doesn't mean you should start slathering it on your undereye bags. "Preparation H is not designed for your eyes. Getting it into your eyes could cause irritation or other dangerous problems. Using it repeatedly on your eyelids can actually cause the blood vessels to become more dilated over time as they try to counter the constricting phenylephrine. Bottom line: Use Preparation H for puffy hemorrhoids, not puffy eyes." Fine by us.

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: Use your hairspray to set your makeup.

Reality: No, just...no. "This is a terrible idea," says Dr. Benabio. "Hairspray clogs pores, and that can lead to acne. I see many women in my practice who get acne around their hairline, and that is often the result of hair products that clog the pores. There are countless options for affordable makeup, so use the hairspray for you hair, not your face." Also, who wants a sticky face? Let's keep our makeup setting to the legit sprays, ladies, please.

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: Dab a bit of toothpaste on a zit at night and it will be gone in the morning.

Reality: This is another one that Dr. Benabio says has a grain of truth to it. "A pimple is just a clogged pore that traps oil and bacteria inside. Toothpaste fights the bacteria that can lead to cavities and contains the three ingredients that also fight pimples: xylitol, an alcohol; triclosan, an antibacterial; and an abrasive (a very fine sand abrasive) that polishes your teeth and can help unclog the pores on your skin. However, I think toothpaste is a poor replacement for OTC acne products since it can cause irritation and burning. In a pinch, it can help. Otherwise, use acne spot treatments containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide."

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: You can use tape to exfoliate your lips and make them super-smooth.

Reality: "I suppose it would work, but why would you want to do it?" says Dr. Benabio. Ditto, a thousand times. "The skin on your lips is thin and quite sensitive. If you have chapped lips, use an OTC lip scrub." But, he says, even these should be used in moderation since it’s easy to over-exfoliate, which will lead to worse chapping and irritation. "Once you have exfoliated your lips, it’s important to moisturize them," says Dr. Benabio. "Use a lip balm regularly throughout the day to keep moisture locked in and prevent dryness. You can make a DIY exfoliator by mixing 1 tbsp honey, coconut oil, or Vaseline with 2 tbsp white or brown sugar — this can be used on your lips and your body."

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Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza
Claim: Drinking lots of water will help you hydrate your skin.

Reality: This is one of those things that is just commonly accepted as a truth, even though most derms now say that it's total B.S. "Drinking water will no more hydrate your skin than taking a bath would quench your thirst," says Dr. Benabio. That said, you still need to be downing plenty of H2O each day, for your overall health.

"Everyone should drink water to remain hydrated," says Dr. Benabio. "How much depends on many factors, such as the foods you eat, the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume, how much you’re sweating, and how dry or humid the air is. Two to three glasses is probably a minimum per day, although you might need much more. Your urine should be clear — if it’s a concentrated dark yellow to brown, then you’re not drinking enough. If your skin is dry, then apply moisturizing lotions. The best time to apply is immediately after showering when your skin is still damp."

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