5 Really Bad Skin Care Tips You've Probably Seen On Pinterest

Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
When it comes to fashion tips, home decor, and even a day-brightening quote or two, Pinterest is inarguably the place to go. But, for skin care hacks? Not so much. That is not to say, though, that we've never found ourselves with homemade mayonnaise masks slathered across our faces or even stranger concoctions rubbed onto our limbs after surfing the site.

Ask a derm about many of these DIYs, however, and they’ll tell you they’re ineffective at best — and, at worst, extremely damaging to the skin. “Remember, your skin is an organ,” says Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology in New York City. “You wouldn’t throw random kitchen and household chemicals on your eyes, or in your ears. Don’t treat your skin any differently.” So much truth. Next time you’ve got an emergency-level pimple or patch of peeling skin, try the drugstore rather than the kitchen — you’ll want to dodge these recipes like the plague.      
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Lemon and Sugar Scrub
This might be one of Pinterest’s most popular DIY treatments and, sadly, one of the most harmful to your epidermis. “Skin has its own natural pH, which is much higher than the pH of citric fruits like lemons and limes — and, using them on skin can cause serious irritation and break down protective oils,” says Nazarian. And, the sugar? “The addition of sugar only increases the irritation, physically exfoliating delicate tissue that’s already been weakened and inflamed by the lemon juice.” Ouch, the ultimate bad skin care double whammy.

Try Instead:

“In place of this combo, try alpha — or beta — hydroxy acid-based creams and washes, and use microbead exfoliation scrubs that are gentler on the skin,” advises Nazarian. We love Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion —which packs alpha-hydroxy acid in with some SPF — and Murad Pore Reform Skin Smoothing Polish, a revolutionary exfoliator that avoids stripping skin of natural oils.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Toothpaste Spot Treatment
What teenager hasn’t dabbed toothpaste on an emerging pimple before bed? The logic makes sense — sort of. “Thought to be helpful because of its antibacterial nature, toothpaste is essentially a super concentrated cleanser,” says Nazarian. But, there’s a downside: “Yes, it kills bacteria on the skin, but all those extra additives and foaming agents also destroy the delicate skin barrier.” Red patches in place of a pimple? We’ll pass.

Try Instead:

For everyday, apply a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide gel or cream. Arithmetic’s Acne Control Complex features not only 3% benzoyl peroxide, but also tea tree oil, a natural pimple shrinker. For more dire situations, Nazarian recommends plain old Neosporin. “It’ll offer the same benefits [as toothpaste], without the added irritation.”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Homemade Sunscreen
“This is an absolute no-no,” warns Nazarian. “Sunscreen is carefully manufactured, tested, and re-tested to ensure you’re getting the precise SPF you’re counting on to keep your skin safe. No other topical is guaranteed to absorb harmful ultraviolet radiation, or to safely neutralize the free radical damage that’s caused by sunlight.” 'Nuff said.

Try Instead:

If you can only stand to purchase one kind of skincare product, this should be it. While the other DIYs featured are certainly harmful, only here is skin cancer on the line. A fabulous new sunscreen star: Tarte Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion, which boasts SPF 30 — the perfect amount for everyday — as well as moisturizing, brightening, and anti-aging benefits. Now, apply every. Single. Day. No excuses!
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Baking Soda Facial Cleanser
Some like to incorporate baking soda into their normal face wash for an added exfoliating kick. “We’re back to the same issue,” says Nazarian. “Baking soda is a more 'basic' — meaning higher pH chemical than found normally on skin. Applying it to skin will throw off the natural balance, leading to inflammation and red, angry tissue.” Good for cookies, not so good for skin, apparently.

Try Instead:

Instead, pick up a cleanser-exfoliator combo, like Tata Harper's Regenerating Cleanser — it’s got microspherical beads that are killer at buffing away dead skin, but much more gentle than baking soda.
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Mayonnaise Moisturizer
Though the egg and oil in mayo can be beneficial for parched skin, other ingredients can be super problematic, such as lemon juice and vinegar, which are highly acidic. “It’s not worth using mayonnaise, which will add in the extra acid and risk irritating sensitive skin,” advises Nazarian. Also, anyone else thinking what we’re thinking: Ew?

Try Instead:

Neutrogena’s got our backs once again, thanks to their groundbreaking Hydro Boost Water Gel. The hyaluronic acid within hydrates with up to 1,000 times its weight in water, and locks in moisture like nothing else. Plus, because it’s a gel, there’s none of the grease factor, which mayo would undeniably provide. In a pinch? “Skip the condiment altogether, and use a good oatmeal bath or straight olive oil to moisturize if you’re out of moisturizing lotion,” says Nazarian.
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