When it comes to DIY skincare and so-called ‘skincare hacks’, there are three things that could happen: you damage your skin, nothing happens to your skin, or the ‘hack’ is actually beneficial for your skin. The third option is pretty rare, by the way - sorry to break it to you!
Let’s debunk 3 common skincare hacks, if they’re good for you and go through what to use instead if not!
The Toothpaste Spot Treatment Hack
The idea of using toothpaste as a spot treatment on pimples has been floating around for what feels like forever - I’ve had friends who swear by this and never use any actual skincare products on their breakouts. So, what’s the whole idea with using toothpaste on breakouts?
Apparently, the point of using toothpaste is to dry out the pimple. Here’s how it’s supposed to work - toothpaste usually has surfactants (the ingredient that makes it foamy) and baking soda. Both of these can be quite drying to the skin when left on for a period of time (in most cases overnight).
While yes, that means the pimple is dried out too, it means that your skin is also more irritated than it should be!
Some kinds of toothpaste also contain the antibacterial triclosan, which people argue is effective against the bacteria in a breakout. Studies have found that triclosan is effective against P Acnes, the type of bacteria responsible for acne. That gives the toothpaste hack a little bit of merit, but the irritation and dryness just aren’t worth it - use a proper spot treatment like the Foreo Espada. It uses blue light to kill the bacteria in breakouts without irritating skin.
Foreo Espada | $199
This handy device uses blue LED light and ultra-sonic technology to banish breakouts.
The Cinnamon Blackhead Hack
This one is honestly one of the most concerning - it involves making a paste of cinnamon powder and water, and applying said paste to the nose in an effort to get rid of ‘nose blackheads’. FYI, those aren’t blackheads - they’re actually called sebaceous filaments, and they’re a completely normal part of the skin. That’s why they’re so stubborn and hard to get rid of!
Something that’s always noted about this ‘hack’ is that it’s supposed to hurt. Umm, excuse me?! A topical skin care product should never hurt, burn or sting - it’s literally an indication that your skin is being irritated and damaged. Any discomfort is a major no-no!
Here’s the thing - yes, pores look smaller afterwards, but it’s not for the reason you think. They appear smaller because all of the skin around it is super irritated and puffed up - once it stops being so puffy and irritated, those sebaceous filaments will look just like they did before the cinnamon mask.
Instead, opt for using a clay mask regularly to absorb excess sebum for smaller-looking pores.
Declaré Bamboo Coal Detox Mask | $60
This mask has a blend of charcoal and clay to absorb excess sebum and impurities in the skin.
The Potato Slice Hack
I don’t know about you, but I like my potatoes better as hot chips than taped to my face. This one is doing the rounds on social media at the moment and usually entails taping a small slice of potato to your face and leaving it on for as long possible. It’s almost like people will do anything but buy skincare that works, but anyway - let’s debunk this hack.
What’s the logic behind it? Well, it’s that potatoes naturally contain some salicylic acid - up to 0.5% salicylic acid, in fact. Don’t get me wrong - salicylic acid is one of the best acids for acne-prone skin, but there are two problems with this.
Firstly, 0.5% is on the lower end of effective when it comes to soothing breakouts. Secondly, like most natural ingredients, the amount of salicylic acid could vary wildly between potatoes - it’s not like you’re getting a guaranteed concentration every time like you would with a properly formulated spot treatment. (I can’t believe I just had to compare potatoes to actual skincare).
Instead, opt for a properly formulated spot treatment like this one from GA-DE - it’s also got Witch Hazel extract for anti-inflammation, and best of all - you know you’re getting the same concentration of ingredients every time you use it.
GA-DE Spot Treatment Gel | $25
Formulated with Salicylic Acid and Witch Hazel, this spot treatment takes care of breakouts - fast.
Still not sure of your skin type? Check out our handy skin type guide - and get your beauty affairs in order.