Every once in a while, a legit hack comes along on TikTok or Insta. Like using mascara to cover grays if you have dark hair, applying your concealer and blush under your foundation, or this genius hack for getting the perfect cat eye every single time.
All the above have a few things in common: they’re safe, they make something hard not-so-hard anymore, and they actually work. We don’t have to tell you that there are a lot of “hacks” out there that are the opposite! Tricky to pull off, borderline (if not straight-up) dangerous, and not really that effective at the end of the day.
We asked skincare pros to put the worst ones out there on blast. Here are the Insta and TikTok hacks they say you def should not try at home!
1. Contouring with Sunscreen
You might have seen that viral video on TikTok that recommended applying sunscreen only in certain areas to create a makeup-free sort of contouring effect. There’s even a hashtag for it (#SunscreenContouring). This one got a huge nope from several of the pros we talked to.
“This is dangerous, as UV rays and photodamage affects all areas of the face,” says Dr. Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Skipping sunscreen on certain areas exposes the body to harsh rays, which can eventually lead to skin cancer and cause premature age spots and wrinkles.”
If you are looking for a contoured look, you’re better off going the traditional route. It doesn’t really take that long, it’s way easier, and loads safer! And don’t forget your SPF!
2. Using a Potato to Treat Acne
While lots of pantry ingredients do come in handy for a quick skincare DIY, a potato simply isn’t one of them when it comes to acne. People on TikTok have been using potatos to treat their acne, but our experts tell us it’s wasted effort.
“Some justify this as potato can contain small amounts of salicylic acid, but this raw potato application stunt to severe acne is just silly and ineffective,” says Dr. Melanie D. Palm, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach, Calif. “Why would someone apply a raw vegetable to the face when effective acne treatments exist over the counter, such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid? These ingredients have proven effectiveness and are safety approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
Potatoes are great and all and while they can be a useful DIY hack in a pinch, they’re really not very effective when it comes to treating acne! Potatoes already do so much for us, let’s give them a rest and use what works, instead!
3. Gluing Your Lips for a Fuller Pout (Bratz Lips)
Okay, we’re not gonna lie, we did try this one – but that’s our job, right? To try things so you don’t have to! The DL was very much that the finished look was definitely not cute and our lip certainly didn’t enjoy it either!
So if you love the idea of fuller lips, then we say stick to lip contour and steer clear of literally gluing your top lip to your upper lip. This doesn’t look good and it’s super unsafe. Lose-lose. This expert certainly thinks so anyway: “Eyelash glue contains cyanoacrylate which when applied onto the skin, can cause severe allergenic chemical reactions such as swelling and blistering,” says Dr. Palm. “If glue is ingested since it’s near the mouth, it can also cause sickness.”
Some people have even used legit superglue which is even worse. This one’s so not worth it.
4. DIYing a Face Mask Out of Your… Period Blood
No, we’re not kidding. Yes, we’re deeply horrified and concerned for humanity. Yes, we’re all about that #periodpower – talk about it, embrace it, normalize it – but we really don’t think it’s a good idea to use your period blood on your face, and our expert certainly agrees…
“This is just horrible. I’m guessing the premise is to mimic plasma rich platelet (PRP) procedures performed in a dermatologist’s office,” says Dr. Palm. “The effective portion of our whole blood that contains growth factors and proteins that encourage collagen growth is found in the watery serum portion of whole blood. Menstrual blood is essentially sloughed endometrial tissue, which… is not healthy tissue.”
What’s worse, Dr. Palm says it can even contain bacteria from the vaginal canal and, given the proximity to your bum, it may also be contaminated with E.coli. Big yikes.
5. Removing a Mole at Home
Didn’t think it’d get worse than the period blood mask, did you? Sorry. At-home mole removing is apparently a trend, and it gets a huge nope from Dr. Graf.
This trend where people are using chemicals to attempt to scrape off their moles can lead to serious infections and scarring of the area,” she says. “If you are concerned about a mole, make a virtual or in-person consultation with your dermatologist to schedule a checkup or removal of the mole.”
The bottom line is that there is literally no safe way to remove a mole at home so don’t even think about it!
6. Applying Straight-Up Lemon Juice to Brighten Skin
Exfoliating is a key step in the skincare handbook, but there are rules! DIYs in chemical-based exfoliation, especially targeted for your face, is a big no-go.
“While lemons do contain vitamin C, citric acid, and niacin – all found in medical-grade skincare – that does not mean using them on your skin is safe,” explains Dr. Kim Nichols, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of SkinCeuticals NicholsMd of Fairfield. “Lemons are highly acidic, which can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to your face, especially when in the sun. Also, because each lemon is different, you truly never know what exactly you are putting on your skin, components-wise.”
If you really want to try to brighten your skin without spending, then we’ve always been fans of a little orange juice as a toner! But honestly, there are so many bomb formulations out there at every price point, and they’re much more effective.
Ultimately, DIYs can be great – we really love a coffee and sugar body scrub with a little coconut oil – but when it comes to your face, it’s better to stick to very gentle ingredients, like honey or yogurt. It’s also important to always patch test first and be very careful, especially if you have sensitive skin. Ever wondering if something is a good idea or not? Just message us!
Are there any recent beauty hacks you’ve discovered the world needs to know about? Share ‘em below.