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6 Beauty Hacks You Should Never Try


Everyone loves a useful life hack, especially busy collegiettes. When you’re constantly on the go and have a tight budget, it can be difficult to look glamorous without employing some quick, money-saving tricks.

Many of us are guilty of scrolling through Pinterest in order to find clever beauty hacks to get our lashes on fleek or to achieve silky smooth skin. Unfortunately, some of the beauty “hacks” you might find online are not safe or efficient, and the following six are definitely not worth the risk. To get more insight, we spoke with Lisa O’Neill Flanagan, a Boston-based esthetician, who gave us the deets on why certain tricks are better left un-tried.

1. Curling Your Lashes with the Korean Fire Method

As the name implies, this new trend involves using fire as part of your lash curling routine. It’s become popular among women in South Korea, one of the top beauty destinations in the world, and promises to keep lashes curled and luscious all day long.

The first step is to curl your eyelashes with a regular eyelash curler before applying one or two coats of mascara. Next, you’re supposed to break the cotton portion off of a Q-tip, leaving only the stick. After starting up a lighter, the goal is to sway the Q-tip back and forth across the open flame, making sure you do not burn it in the process. To test for heat, it's recommended to place the Q-tip against your wrist to see if it’s too hot, because otherwise the high temperature can burn your lashes off. Finally, you run the heated stick horizontally up your lashes, and end with an extra coat of mascara.

The method aims to offer the same benefits of a heated lash curler, but isn’t exactly safe or practical (holding flames anywhere near the eyes or skin? No thanks). Instead, try a heated lash curler ($17, Sephora) to get similar results without worrying about burning your lashes or setting off the smoke alarm in your building.

2. Lengthening Your Lashes with Petroleum Jelly

Another trending lash trick that seems legitimate and useful involves coating your lashes with petroleum jelly to achieve extra length and body. This trick might have been circulated between various bloggers and celebs, but it turns out that it’ll do harm than good when it comes to the health of your lashes.

Petroleum jelly can be a useful eye makeup remover, but we don’t advise leaving it on your eyes for longer than necessary, since it can cause irritation. The delicate skin around your eyes needs to breathe, and when left on intentionally for a long period of time, the ingredients in petroleum jelly can clog your pores and make you more prone to infection.

“Petroleum jelly is a humectant, which is a protective barrier that draws moisture from the air and from the lower layers of skin,” says Flanagan. “It has no magic ‘growth’ properties to make lashes grow.”

If you’re looking to lengthen and grow your lashes, there are better alternatives. For extra length, incorporate a lengthening mascara such as They’re Real! Lengthening and Volumizing Mascara from Benefit Cosmetics ($24, Sephora). And to encourage lashes to grow, use a lash growth serum like the Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum ($28.50, Violet Grey) from Dior.

3. Soaking Your Feet with Listerine and Vinegar

A Pinterest favorite, the Listerine foot soak advises that you combine a cup each of Listerine and vinegar with two cups of boiling water. The mixture is said to “reap antibacterial properties” and “exfoliate dead skins cells” according to bloggers and Pinterest users. It’s also rumored to treat athlete’s foot, calluses and other common podiatry issues.

This treatment is definitely appealing to collegiettes, since it doesn’t come at a high price tag and gives us an excuse to relax and soak our feet. It’s easy to imagine a nice Sunday night with Netflix, dark chocolate and a calming foot soak, right?

Believe it or not, we don’t recommend the Listerine foot soak. The high concentration of alcohol in the mouthwash will actually dry out your feet, and can even remove a layer of healthy skin if you’re not careful. The dye in Listerine will also color your feet blue temporarily after the soak, which isn’t exactly something you want your favorite campus cutie to see.

According to Flanagan, even if this foot soak was worthwhile, it would take more than a half hour of relaxation to gain any benefits. “To see any real effects from this treatment, you would have to soak your feet for a long time—at least eight hours,” she says. To us, no true hack should take that long!

Although we don't suggest that you try the Listerine foot soak, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid soaking your feet entirely! “Use Epsom salts instead!” suggests Flanagan. Simply mix a handful of Epsom salts into a bowl of warm water, grab a drink and the latest issue of your favorite magazine and get soaking!

Related: Beauty Hacks: What to Use When You Run Out of Your Fave Product

4. Using Cooking Spray to Make Your Manicure Dry Faster

A fresh manicure can make you feel on top of the world and ready to take on the week, but it definitely takes patience. For the most durable mani, we always recommend using a base coat, two coats of color and a top coat, but applying all of these coats and waiting for them to dry can be time consuming. Since many collegiettes know this struggle, it’s tempting to search for an easy fix to dry your nails quickly.

You may have heard about the cooking spray nail hack, in which you apply the spray to your nails in attempts to dry them faster and set the nail polish, but it actually doesn’t work as expected. This hack will allow your top coat to set quickly, but it also means that you’ll have two unset color coats underneath. As a result, your nails will still be prone to smudging, plus you’ll smell like Pam. Not the best combination!

The best remedy to make sure your manicure dries as it should is to simply give yourself plenty of time to let your nails dry. That being said, for the times when you really do need to a quick fix and a fast-dry spray, use one specifically designed for nails, such as the ULTA Professional Nail Dry spray ($2.99, ULTA).

5. Exfoliating Your Skin with Lemon and Honey to Minimize Blackheads

Yet another Pinterest beauty hack suggests that a genius way to get rid of blackheads is to apply 3 to 4 drops of honey to half a lemon, and then rub the lemon over your face. Next, you’re supposed to let this mixture sit on your face for five minutes before washing with warm water. The main goal is to exfoliate and address problem areas of the skin, while the lemon juice simultaneously “fades marks and dark spots.”

Once again, there are a few flaws in this hack. Lemons are extremely acidic, and they can do more harm than good when applied in excess to your skin. A few drops of lemon juice added to a face mask will not harm you, but using an entire half piece of lemon to scrub your face is irritation waiting to happen.

“Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which can irritate sensitive skin in large amounts. Its juice can also have a bleaching effect on the skin,” says Flanagan.

On the other hand, honey is a wonderful ingredient to include in your skincare routine. According to Flanagan, “honey is an antibacterial/microbial and also moisturizes.” And fortunately, you don't have to apply raw honey to your skin for benefits. Instead, we recommend using a face mask that includes honey for moisturization and a healthy glow. Try the Montagne Jeunesse Manuka Honey Peel-Off Mask ($1.99, ULTA) if you're looking for an effective and budget-friendly option.

A final note on the failure of this hack? Flanagan comments that “neither one of these ingredients has a chemical or physical exfoliating effect on the skin,” so Pinterest captions are false when they say the treatment is exfoliating!

6. Applying Toothpaste to a Pimple

This age-old trick has always been seen as an easy fix to dry out a pimple and clear your skin. But is it actually effective? We asked Flanagan to give us the scoop.

“Toothpaste on your irritated skin can make your skin red and more sensitive,” she says. “It also includes ingredients to whiten teeth—like peroxide—which if used on your skin can irritate your acne even more. In turn, the blemish you’re trying to heal will only take longer to go away.”

So, instead of breaking out the Colgate next time you get a pimple, reach for an acne spot treatment instead, which is specifically designed to heal your acne. We recommend the On the Spot Acne Treatment from Neutrogena ($7.99, ULTA).

Beauty tricks can save you time and money, but it’s always important to research hacks with caution. Some may be extremely beneficial, while others might be a waste of energy—or downright harmful. And hopefully, these tips will help you slay the beauty game by steering you away from advice that's overrated or ineffective. 

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