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July 23, 2018

These Pinterest Skincare Tips Are Actually Pinterest Skincare FAILS

An aesthetician weighs in on the worst Pinterest skincare fails posing as “tips” on the online pinboard. All we can say is step away from the kitty litter …


Pinterest is full of wonderful ideas. There’s healthy recipes, killer outfits, and tons of hair and makeup inspiration to get you out of a rut. Unfortunately, there’s one more thing Pinterest is full of: terrible skincare advice. I’m sure you’ve seen it pop up on your feed or have gotten it sent to you by your Aunt Debbie and cringed. I’ve gathered some of the worst offenders I’ve taken note of over the years and will tell you why you should scroll past them like shabby chic denim wedding dresses.


pinterest skincare fails
Unsplash/Lauren Mancke


Baking soda exfoliating scrub


Dear God. Those of you in the low pH club are going to cringe at this one. Baking soda has a pH of about 9. I won’t put anything on my face above a 6, lest the moisture barrier-destroying demons come out to play. Once that moisture barrier is destroyed, you’re open to all manner of invaders. Think of your moisture barrier as your skin’s defense shield.


pinterest skincare fails


The instructions for a lot of these baking soda exfoliating pins say to mix baking soda with your face wash and then let it sit on your face for 10-15 minutes before washing off (!!!!!!!!!!! I’m dying !!!!!!!!!!!!!!). They claim this will exfoliate your skin. No ma’am. What it will do is dry and irritate the bejesus out of it. Literally the only thing I can say about this “tip” is that it conditions people to let a product sit for 10-15 minutes, perfect for when they see the light and upgrade to a BHA or AHA product to exfoliate safely.


Rub lemon on your skin to fade freckles/condition skin/exfoliate


Mon dieu! Mais, non! I’m having flashbacks of my mother squeezing lemon juice all over my hair as a kid and sending me outside all day to bake in the sun and make “sun highlights” in my hair. Look, it was a simpler (read: stupider) time. Did it lighten my hair? It did! Did it also leave me with sun damage I’m battling now? Yep. Screw you, Mom.


pinterest skincare fails


Anyway, lemon juice is highly, highly acidic. What makes it bad for sensitive teeth makes it even worse for your skin. It’s got a pH of about 2. It’s acidic AF, that’s why it’s able to lighten hair. You do not want that on your skin. Oh, not to mention, lemon juice can cause phototoxic reactions in your skin, meaning you can blister and burn more than usual. (Need proof? Check out this post from beauty chemist Lab Muffin — warning, grossness ahead:)



If you want the benefits of a citrus-based product, look into a well-formulated vitamin C serum which will brighten and fade hyperpigmentation.


Toothpaste on zits


pinterest skincare fails


Zeus save us. Leave the toothpaste for your teeth or to get crayon off of painted walls if you’re feeling bold (which is apparently another Pinterest toothpaste-related tip). Why on earth would you put toothpaste on a zit to “dry it up” when there’s the most perfect product on earth for that in the form of COSRX pimple patches? I mean, really. COSRX patches seal the wound, draw out and trap the moisture, and literally dry those little bastards up. What will toothpaste do? Well, it’ll irritate the crap out of your poor pimple wound and introduce it to bad company like mint alcohol. You know when you brush your teeth and your whole mouth feels like it got punched by The Ice King? Don’t visit that upon your skin, my dude.


DIY facial scrub featuring sugar


I’m all for homemade scrubs for the body. I make my own with salt, a carrier oil, powdered milk, and essential oil. It’s def not something I use every day and is more of an occasional sensory treat. But your body’s skin is tougher than your facial skin, by far. I would never ever use a sugar scrub on my face. Much like the awful St Ives apricot scrub, homemade sugar scrubs feature a “natural” ingredient that’s actually a full-fledged microscopic skin terrorist. The naturally sharp sugar crystals can cause microscopic tears on the skin, leaving it open to infection and causing great irritation. It’s not just the friction turning your skin red when you do a sugar scrub.


pinterest skincare fails


If you absolutely insist on a physical scrub for your face, try a mild gommage type “peeling gel.” Dr.G Gowoonsesang Brightening Peeling Gel is my favorite. While “peeling gels” don’t actually peel, the little balled-up pieces of gel it produces when massaged onto the skin does lift up and carry away flakes and dead skin. A better way to address flakes and dead skin is a good chemical exfoliator and an oil-moisturizer combo.


Kitty litter face mask


I had to save the worst for last. I cannot believe this is actually a thing. A famous beauty guru (and insane person for this) put out a video in 2009 demonstrating a kitty litter face mask and pins have persisted ever since. I get the general idea behind it: most kitty litter is comprised of clay, and it’s only a couple of bucks a bag so OMG a giant bag of facial mask for pennies per use!


pinterest skincare fails


Ahh, if only it were that simple. First of all, like the sugar crystals, kitty litter will tear your face the F uppppp. It’s jagged and sharp and nasty. Second of all, do you have any idea what kind of crazy fillers are in kitty litter? First, there’s aluminum silicate, which is a health hazard if inhaled in great quantities (that sh—t is used to make glass). There’s also a lot of filler like wood waste products, paper waste, hard grains, corn cobs, and even our old pal citrus (for a fresh smell). You don’t want any part of that on your face!


You deserve so much better! There are so many wonderful clay masks out there. You can’t beat Innisfree’s Jeju volcanic mask, and it’s got several different formulations in that line so there’s sure to be one that suits you perfectly. A lot more perfect than KITTY LITTER ON YOUR FACE. I feel like that needed to be said in all caps, because it’s insanity. Love yourself.


I hope this article has brought some truth and light into your life because I have totally ruined my Pinterest algorithm researching this story for y’all and will likely suffer the vapors for the next several months as these atrocious pins show up on my feed <3


Have you tried any of these Pinterest skincare fails? What’s your favorite beauty tip you saw on Pinterest?


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, on Instagram @thebeautywolf, and in her book "Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup."



I only did cucumber slices on my face or grind up potatoes for my sunburns. Thank goodness those aren't as bad... right? Another victim of the St. Ives Apricot Scrub... It was not pretty. After that, I was soo traumatized, it took me awhile to get back into skincare products.

This is making me laugh. I was a teen in the 80s subjecting my poor oily, acne ravaged skin to lemon juice. It stung like the dickens. Did it help with the acne? Nope. The toothpaste on zits was a thing back then too, if the Sea Breeze, Noxema, St. Ives Apricot Scrub, and other crap wasn’t doing it for you (none of it was in my case.)

Wow, I used to use a lot of bad products on my face (I'm another former victim of St Ives apricot scrub) but I'm glad I was never on Pinterest and missed all these ideas, lol!

I can't get over the kitty litter mask. *shudders* Why on earth would you use it just to save a few bucks when there are plenty of affordable clay masks (AB and otherwise)... even the worst ones have got to be better than kitty litter!

I used to do cucumber slices on my face with my mom — thank goodness that never turned out to be bad for you!

Me too! My teen years especially were just an endless series of bad skincare mistakes!

I literally have mixed baking soda and lemon juice together with sugar from my pantry and rubbed it on to my face before lol. My skin is by no means great but holy crap, the stuff I used to do it was frightening.

You mention never using a sugar mask, how do you feel about a mask such as skinfood-strawberry-black-sugar-mask-wash-off? I love using it maybe once a week.

I feel like skincare products are formulated to be applied on skin (as opposed to eaten and to sweeten coffee) so it\'s got to be more gentle. I found the Skinfood Rice Mask to be a pretty gentle exfoliator and I know Jude Chao and @ruthkim love it too.

That's what I figured, but everyone has differing opinions!