The 5 Viral Beauty Hacks You Should Seriously Never Try – When’s the last time you met someone whose life was changed by a trick they saw on Instagram? We’re gonna go ahead and guess never. Which is surprising, considering every Instagram feed is consistently inundated with a billion beauty “hacks” to get rid of acne, fix dark spots, and turn you into a magical, beauty unicorn.
The problem is that the majority—like, almost all—of these tricks are not only created out of the sky by vloggers and influencers with no medical backgrounds, but are also incredibly, incredibly harmful for your skin, resulting in rashes, burns, and even scarring.
So rather than let you experiment with another potentially face-destroying DIY this week, we chatted with Yale University dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, to find out why, exactly, these ultra-popular hacks are complete crap.
1THE HACK: USING DENTAL FLOSS TO EXTRACT BLACKHEADS
Sorry, but digging, scraping, and sliding a minty piece of floss down your nose isn’t the magical key to getting rid of blackheads. Sure, it’ll take off whatever minuscule layer or natural face oils and dead skin cells that’s already chilling on your nose (which any good face cleanser can do, too) but “this hack can also leave little stripes of purpura—AKA small, bleeding blood vessels—down your nose,” says Dr. Gohara. “Imagine a bunch of striped, purple hickies front and center on your face; skip it and leave extractions to your derm.”
2THE HACK: USING DEODORANT AS A FACE PRIMER
It sounds logical, right? Deodorant keeps your armpits matte and dry, so it should do the same for your face, yes? Except, oh, wait—your face isn’t an armpit. “Deodorant contains aluminum salts and strong fragrances that can be super irritating to your face, causing red, flaky patches and inflaming acne and bumps,” says Dr. Gohara, noting that “excess dryness on the face is also a mess waiting to happen” for your skin barrier. “Under no circumstance would I advise this; stick with the real deal when it comes to primer, and leave the antiperspirant for your pits.”
3THE HACK: USING NAIL POLISH TO COVER COLD SORES
Yes, even we will admit that this video looks incredibly convincing, especially since anyone who has dealt with cold sores knows the frustration that is covering them up. But don’t fall for it: “According to the American Contact Dermatitis Society, nail polish is one of the most common allergens we could come in contact with,” says Dr. Gohara.
“Also remember that cold sores are herpes—yes, herpes—which are a transmissible virus, meaning that baby ain’t going anywhere fast. A bad scenario is having a cold sore on your lip, but a worse scenario is having a cold sore on your lip in addition to and a massive allergic reaction to the clear nail polish.” And that’s not even taking into account how easy it is to re-infect yourself: “You shouldn’t be using lipstick on a cold sore unless you want to have herpes all over again, since that virus now lives within that tube,” she says.
4THE HACK: USING WASABI AS A ZIT SPOT TREATMENT
We’re all about natural acne treatments (what up, tea tree oil), but not when they come as a side in your lunch order. “There are absolutely no anti-inflammatory properties of wasabi—none, zip, zilch, zero,” says a supremely frustrated Dr. Gohara. “I want to see the science; show me the science.”
And though the vlogger does warn against keeping the wasabi on for longer than two minutes, “there is no amount of time that this is advisable or safe; wasabi can literally burn your skin,” says Dr. Gohara. “What goes on sushi belongs in your mouth, not the rest of your face.”
5THE HACK: USING LEMON AND BAKING SODA TO BRIGHTEN ARMPITS
Congrats! You’ve essentially created a mixture that can burn through the depths of your skin. Yay! “Not only can scrubbing your skin with sugar cause micro tears and irritation, but the combination of lemon, which is super acidic on the pH scale, and baking soda, which is super basic, will severely irritate your skin and even lead to burns,” says Dr. Gohara. “But sure, if you burn a hole through your skin, I guess it will get rid of discoloration.”
Translation: Leave this hack and all of the other beauty “hacks” in your newsfeed where they belong, and trust in doctor-approved methods, instead.