Save your skin: Five items you shouldn't put on your face!

Beauty hacks on the Internet range from practical to out-of-this-world. Some work, others don’t. There are a few, however, that have gained cult following for their supposed effectiveness. In measured doses they do the skin some good. But when used at full strength, especially on sensitive facial skin, they may cause damage in the long run. Here's what's on our sh*t list!

Baking Soda

A quick Google for “baking soda for skin” will yield a ton of results, most of which have headlines along the lines of “baking soda offers lots of benefits to the skin.” Baking soda has been touted as a cheap miracle worker. It supposedly exfoliates the skin, helps get rid of acne, and treats rashes. Even Emma Stone swears by it! But this ordinary kitchen staple might actually do more harm than good. Why? Because it’s literally basic.

If you’ve read our story on the surprising facts about pH level in skincare, you may already have an idea why baking soda is bad for the skin. If not, here it is: you have to keep your skin’s pH balanced to ensure that it is clean, clear, and healthy.

On the pH scale, 1 is acidic and 14 is basic (or alkaline). Things are acidic or basic depending on where they sit on the scale, except for when it’s 7, which makes it neutral. Products which are highly acidic have a tendency to burn the skin, while products that are too basic can cause damage through loss of moisture. Baking soda is an 8, which makes it alkaline. It disrupts the skin’s acid mantle; it dries your skin out more than you’d want it to and makes it more prone to irritations.

It’s still best to go for professionally-formulated products as they have been tested and proven to be effective for facial skin. But if you want to exfoliate using natural ingredients, use honey instead. Along with cleansing the skin, honey regulates the skin’s pH. If you want a bit of grit, add a pinch of epsom salt to the honey.


Lemon is loved by many for it's skin-lightening properties. To an extent, it does brighten skin. Lemon and other citrus fruits contain ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which can diminish dark spots. But raw lemon has a pH level of 2, which is highly acidic. The oil in lemon and other citrus fruits also cause phototoxicity, a skin irritation that gets activated or worsened by sun exposure.

If you’re looking to even out your skin tone and want to treat your skin to more Vitamin C, go for a store-bought product that’s infused with it instead of directly putting lemon/citrus juice on your face. The Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is a tried and tested vitamin-C infused product that you can try!


You’ve probably heard it before: toothpaste is the gift of cupboard gods to frugal ladies who suddenly get a pimple; it can zap away your zit overnight!

I tried it when I was younger, although I don’t recall it working. Still, there are a lot of people backing this “hack.” Most toothpastes contain alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and witch hazel - all of which can dry up a zit. But when these ingredients come in one product and applied on a highly sensitive spot, you may get irritated skin. 

If you want to tackle pimples fast, go for products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide instead.


The online beauty world is brimming with variations of the very popular DIY sugar scrub. And you can use any iteration of it to exfoliate your skin, just not on your face. The skin on our face is softer and more sensitive than other parts of our body, and sugar is particularly abrasive. The roughness of sugar’s edges may cause tearing of skin cells and lipid barrier disruption, which leads to extremely dry skin and eventually skin irritation.

Go for AHAs and BHAs instead if you want to exfoliate. Products which are properly formulated with AHA or BHA help get rid of built-up skin cells on your face and promote hydration, wrinkle reduction, and collagen production.


There have been claims that cinnamon is good for pimples as it can combat acne-causing bacteria. However, it might be overly harsh for the job.

Cinnamon has been proven to have antibacterial properties. It’s strong enough to ward off hospital-acquired infections, like streptococcus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. French researchers also found out that using cinnamon oil is effective in dealing with E. Coli. It’s that strong. It can actually cause chemical burns. Yikes! So think twice before putting cinnamon on your skin!

Have you tried any of these products on your face before? We hope not! If you have, how did they react to your face?

Sources: PubMed, Huffington Post, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Paula’s Choice, The New York Times