A few weeks ago I had the stupidest skincare mishap I’ve ever had in my life. I was throwing a surprise party for my boyfriend’s birthday and I’d reached peak stress levels. I was thinking about all the things that still needed to be done before the party – including needing to shower! I also realized my nail polish was all chipped so I grabbed my nail polish remover and cotton round before heading toward the shower. I poured the acetone on a cotton round and – here’s where I went wrong – I proceeded to swipe acetone all over my face.
I’m honestly, truly embarrassed to publish that sentence on the internet – but it happened. I had so much on my mind that I wasn’t thinking, and since I normally pour my micellar water on a cotton round, I instinctively put it on my face. But, a quick google search of “I accidentally put acetone on my face” will prove to you that I’m not the only idiot that’s made this mistake:
I didn’t even notice what I’d done until my face started burning and I immediately threw down the cotton round and ran lukewarm water over my face until the burning/tingling sensation went away.
I still had yet to shower and was worried the hot steam would irritate my already-pretty-irritated skin. Sigh… cold shower it is. My face was still really blotchy and red after the shower and I was furious at the thought of hosting a party like this. I didn’t want to use too many skincare products and risk making it worse. SO I threw on a thin layer of my iUNIK Centella Gel Cream. Centella Asciatica (aka Cica aka Tiger Grass) is the holy grail of soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients. The iUNIK centella gel cream was perfect for this emergency. Followed it up with a no-frills moisturizer (shout out to First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream) and sunscreen and called it a day.
To make a long story short, the redness went down in a couple of hours and I was able to host the party without anyone noticing I’d accidentally spent the morning dousing my face with nail polish remover. But this silly accident got me thinking a lot about some of the skincare mistakes I’ve made intentionally thanks to all the hours I spent scrolling through Pinterest DIY skincare and early-YouTube skincare gurus when I was in high school.
Most of these skincare mistakes took place when I was in middle school and high school, dealing with intense acne. Whenever I had a particularly bad breakout, I would deal with it by attacking it with harsh products. Since then, I have done much more research on how to take care of my skin and have learned the error of my cringe-worthy ways!
Hopefully, this post will provide some laughter at my expense and maybe you’ll learn something along the way (who am I kidding? You’re just here for the laughs. I’m ok with that.)
Skincare Mistake #1: Using lemon juice on my face.
Why is this so bad?
In high school I discovered one of my favorite makeup gurus who shall remain nameless because there’s no reason her terrible skincare advice should come back to haunt her 10 years later, right? Anyway, 3 weeks before my senior prom, I started breaking out from the stress of finals and friend drama, so I turned to her YouTube channel and found a skincare video where she advised cutting a lemon in half, sprinkling some sugar on it, and rubbing that baby all over your face. Sounds harmless enough, right? WRONG. I used this lemon sugar concoction every other night for weeks and ended up going to prom with the worst breakout I’d ever had since finishing accutane when I was 12.
Why did lemon juice do this to my skin?
Bad. Bad. Putting lemon juice directly on your skin is SO BAD for your skin for so many reasons. Your skin’s natural pH is around 4.5-5 (slightly acidic), and the pH of lemon juice is 2-2.6. So lemon juice is way too acidic for your skin, it’s irritating, and can lead to a condition called Phytophotodermatitis (which makes your skin hypersensitive to UV light and looks like a chemical burn). Lastly, despite claims that “DIY Lemon Juice Treatments” will lighten your hyperpigmentation, over time it actually does the exact opposite – likely due to the photosensitivity it causes.
So, in general, you should avoid putting lemon on your face. However, another effective and natural way to brighten your skin is to introduce a vitamin c serum into your routine. Vitamin C is great for reducing hyperpigmentation, brightening your skin, and reducing the damage caused by UV light exposure. There are plenty of great ones to choose from.
Skincare Mistake #2: Baking soda scrubs
Why is this so bad?
I want to scream every time I see baking soda used as a DIY skincare treatment. Even worse, there are plenty of brands selling products with baking soda still! Going back to pH’s, baking soda has a pH of 9 meaning it’s alkaline (or basic). Regularly using products that are too alkaline causes dryness and irritation for your skin. It can also make you more prone to acne since you need a certain amount of acidity to keep the bacteria on your skin in check. And people seem to love this ingredient because it’s “natural” but remember that something being “natural” does not automatically mean it’s better for your skin. So keep your baking soda in your fridge or in your toilet (or your cookies!) and keep it away from your face.
For brightening and exfoliating benefits, try adding a BHA or AHA into your routine (like salicylic or glycolic acid). Or if you prefer a natural, DIY physical exfoliator, try some gentle colloidal oatmeal – which is even better if you mix it in with some raw honey for a mask!
Skincare Mistake #3: Over-washing my face and using harsh cleansers/scrubs.
Why is this so bad?
Yes, it’s possible to wash your face too much! Over-washing can strip your skin of it’s natural oils and damage your skin’s barrier causing moisture loss. This can cause your skin to have that “tight” squeaky clean feeling, develop rashes, acne, and can exacerbate your oiliness problem because when you dry out your skin, you start producing more oil to try to compensate.
Switch to gentle cleanser that doesn’t leave you with a “tight” feeling on your skin. Only cleanse 1-2 times per day (I don’t use a cleanser in the morning) so that you’re not over washing.
Other products/ingredients to avoid or be weary of:
Harsh physical exfoliators: St. Ives Apricot Scrub is widely hated among skincare enthusiasts for good reason – it’s pretty harsh on your skin. Many people that do see benefits with this product are likely just reacting well to the salicylic acid in the scrub – so instead try products like Cerave’s SA Cleanser or Stridex.
Cinnamon: It’s an irritant and can cause a burning sensation on your skin. There aren’t many benefits to using it. Some people use tumeric as an alternative which is an anti-inflammatory and doesn’t seem to irritate people as often. Eating tumeric or drinking tumeric tea can also be beneficial to those with acne (and those with back pain!).
Toothpaste: Not only is the idea of over-drying your skin bad, but toothpaste contains sulfates which can strip our skin of its natural oils (which help to keep good things in your skin and bad things from coming in).
Coconut Oil: This is one that isn’t a bad ingredient, but you definitely need to patch test and listen to your skin before incorporating it into your routine. I thought this was worth mentioning here because coconut oil has become a major skincare trend despite the fact that it’s known for being highly comedogenic for many people (meaning it is likely to clog pores and cause acne). Not everyone experiences this with coconut oil – and those that don’t break out from it love its benefits. But more often than not, I see that lots of people (including myself) do not react well to it, so always be sure to patch test!
Before I sign off, I just wanted to point out how many of these skincare no-no’s were caused by me reading that “natural is always better.” While it’s great if you choose to use natural products, it’s important to remember that natural ingredients can still be harmful to your skin. And synthetic (aka scientifically-derived) ingredients don’t automatically mean it’s bad for you. Often, synthetic skincare ingredients are made to produce the effects of naturally-occurring ingredients that aren’t widely abundant for our use. In other words, synthetic ingredients are safe and can be more beneficial to the environment in some cases.
No matter what you decide to put on your face, make sure to do your research on whether or not the ingredients are safe to use (natural or not-natural). One of my favorite ways to do this is searching the product on INCIdecoder.com which gives you an idea of which ingredients you should be worried about.
Thanks for reading and be sure to follow my Instagram @levitate.beauty for routine updates and product photos!