Oops! The Skincare Sins and Mayhem We’ve Committed Against Our Skin
Oct 04, 2017
Forgive us, skin, for we have sinned. We’ve stripped, scrubbed, and seared our complexion with apricot bits and toothpaste — and by we, I mean some of the top K-beauty gurus and influencers around! In this inaugural kickoff to our Oops! series, where we talk about the skincare sins of our past, the most respected names in K-beauty share the mistakes they’ve made in their beauty past.
Flipping through an old yearbook is almost guaranteed to leave you cringing: The ill-advised haircuts! The ill-fitting clothing! The mall-bangs! Maybe you had a wardrobe of velour tracksuits like J.Lo or high-heeled Timberland knock-offs. Don't pretend like you were above it. We've all stumbled and bumbled through our pasts. Of course, we've come through the awkwardness and arrived into adulthood as powerful, badass, enlightened beings, but oohhhh, the journey it took to get here!
To get things started I'll confess my own skincare sins. I erroneously thought acne = oil and oil = bad. Despite the fact that I clearly had dry skin, I thought that only excess oil (I didn't even begin to know what sebum was) could be the cause of breakouts, so if I broke out, by god I was going to get that evil oil. I accomplished this by applying a thick glob of benzoyl peroxide on each zit, resulting in chemically burning the bejesus out of my face. So not only would I have an angry cyst-zit, it'd be bright red, burned to hell, and crusty. Beautiful!
I reached out to some of my fellow bloggers and beauty experts to ask them about the embarrassing beauty journeys they've been through. Before you were the experts you are today, what awful thorny path did you follow to get here?
"I spent years scrubbing my face with what was basically an Italy Towel. Looking back, I feel like I deserve what my skin served up."
Oh my god! I heard that and instinctively grabbed my face. Owwwwwww.
An Italy towel is a great manual exfoliation tool for your arms and legs, but folks, it has no place on a face! Manual exfoliation can cause problems even when done correctly for some skin types. Even if you can tolerate it, it's best done very gently via a gommage, and not with a scratchy cloth.
But I get it: Before we knew any better we chased the high of freshly exfoliated skin. We ignored the obvious redness and irritation and instead focused on the (very temporary) smoothness we got. It was baby soft right before the flakiness and zits cropped up in defiance, thanks to the damage we had done. Poor Tracy's face, you're in a much better place now.
Kerry, Skin & Tonics
"When I first discovered AHAs, I went peel crazy with these high percentage acid peels. I gave myself chemical burns — not once, not twice, but several times — before I finally learned my lesson that AHAs need to happen in moderation. And after every burn, I would end up with these horrible cystic breakouts, and it took me forever to realize that the acne and the chemical burns were linked. I knew nothing about my moisture barrier back then. My poor skin!”
This is how I triggered my own cystic acne back in my teens and early 20s, but with the benzoyl peroxide! It's easy to get stuck in a loop of "omg acne — let's burn it off — omg acne." As Kerry said, everything needs to happen in moderation, especially when it comes to acids or acne treatments of any sort. It's very easy to end up exacerbating the problem you were trying to solve in the first place.
Chel, Holy Snails
"I really, REALLY liked St. Ives-ing my face with a towel and then grabbing an extractor and attacking my nose to get out every last sebaceous filament. The sides of my nose were red and sunken for a while.”
Oh boy. Are there any of us that escaped the St. Ives curse? I think we all fell victim to that devil in an “all-natural” disguise. And a St. Ives and a towel combo? That, my friend, is dedication to all the worst things.
I think we've all been guilty of the overzealous extracting as well. It's pretty much the law that you go on an extractor binge with the purchase of your first 10x magnification mirror. We're sorry, nose pores, we've grown and we promise to never attack you like that again!
Cat, Snow White and the Asian Pear
“I used to use these cleanser sheets by Neutrogena (I think) that would foam up when you used them. One side was rough, the other side was rougher. They burned, and I took that as confirmation that it was working. Yeah, fight that acne! It probably had a pH of 11 and was full of alcohol.”
I remember those bastards! They came in a plastic tub and looked a lot like baby wipes, which probably would have been a better bet than these sheets. The burning as confirmation of effectiveness is another thing we all fell victim to at one time or another. I'm so glad we now know that if it burns, let it burn in the garbage ‘cause it's not the right product for you.
Sheryll, Wanderlust Project
Our own Beautytap gal and The Wanderlust Project blogger Sheryll also sparked a nostalgia trip for me with her skin sin:
"In high school and well into college, I used to put toothpaste on my pimples."
Is it possible to get through your teens without trying this at least once? Who amongst us hasn't smelled like a minty-fresh disaster? Don't lie — you know you did this.
Just in case you didn't, and you want to try this for giggles — DON’T. There are several reasons why it's just not a good idea, but the gist of it is that toothpaste is extremely drying to the skin and full of potentially irritating ingredients. And that's the last thing your skin ever needs. Besides, we have COSRX Acne Patches now — we are living in the future, folks. A glowing, hydrated, educated, slay all day future.
And the best part? Those velour tracksuits are at least another 10 years away from coming back into style, and by then you'll be old enough to sit back with your perfect skin and laugh at the teenagers co-opting them for their second whirl around. You might even spot a dollop of toothpaste on their taut young faces in between giggles.
What skincare sins have you committed in your past? I'm sure we've all done it, so feel free to share!
Coco Park is an author, beauty journalist, blogger, podcast host, and all around oddball living in Montreal Quebec with her family. Originally from the southern USA, she worked for several years in the makeup industry as a professional makeup artist and holds a certificate in esthetics. She is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Want to know more? Check her out on the Beauty Beyond Basics podcast, on her blog TheBeautyWolf.com, on Instagram @thebeautywolf, and in her book "Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup."