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Hydrogen Peroxide

It’s a popular zit fighter because it kills bacteria living on your face. But hydrogen peroxide can damage your own skin cells, including fibroblasts that help make new tissue and heal wounds. Also avoid it for cleaning cuts and scrapes. Use soap and water instead. Hydrogen peroxide might irritate your already fragile skin.

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Breast Milk

This liquid gold has long been known for its bevy of health benefits for babies. Now some spas are offering breast milk facials to tamp down pimples and to soothe skin. It won’t hurt you. But you’re better off using a cream or other products that contain lauric acid, the fatty compound found in mother’s milk.

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Witch Hazel

This plant is a common natural remedy to treat acne, tighten pores, and fight greasiness. Witch hazel acts as an astringent, a type of chemical that causes your skin tissue to contract. But toners that contain witch hazel can strip all the natural oils from your skin. That might lead to irritation, dryness, and even allergic reactions.

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Hydrocortisone Cream

This medication is a balm for red, itchy, swollen skin. So you might be tempted to smear it on if you have rosacea or similar conditions. But this type of steroid cream thins the skin, so the blood vessels on your face are more likely to burst. It also can force your oil glands to go into overdrive, leading to what’s called “steroid acne.” It’s OK to apply a small amount for bug bites and itchy rashes for a day or two.

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If beads of sweat are always rolling down your face, swiping an antiperspirant over your brows, cheeks, and elsewhere may seem like a clever solution. It isn’t. Deodorant sticks and rollers can clog pores and make you break out. The skin on your face is also sensitive, and you might get an allergic reaction. See a dermatologist instead. They may curb your sweaty glands with prescription medications or Botox.

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This sweet stuff has been used to treat wounds since ancient times. Today, some folks dab it on to banish acne. Honey helps to keep germs at bay and lessens inflammation. But it probably doesn’t do much. One study found that honey worked no better than antibacterial soap. If you still want to try it, look for manuka honey that has a minimum rating of 10 UMF to ensure it has enough germ-fighting power.

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Hair Dye

If you color your hair, you may want your brows to match. But it’s not a DIY project. Home dyes have too much peroxide to use safely near your brows. You might burn the surrounding skin or even injure your eyes. Instead, look for tinted brow gel at your drugstore. Or coat your brows with a lightweight mascara or eye shadow powder.

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Devotees swear by their pee as the secret to smooth, unclogged skin. Urine is made up of mostly water and a compound called urea. Many creams and potions include a lab-made form of urea because it binds to moisture in the air and draws it to the skin. But your pee probably doesn’t contain enough of it to matter. Plus, it’s just gross.

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Hair Spray

It’s a handy and effective fix to stop a run in your stocking or to get rid of static cling. But don’t use hair spray to set your makeup. The same ingredients that make hair stick also can dry out your skin or trigger an allergic reaction. A makeup setting spray is a better choice.

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Lemon Juice

It’s loaded with vitamin C, which can brighten skin and smooth fine lines. But lemon juice is acidic and can irritate your face. You also might end up with an ugly rash from phytophotodermatitis, a skin reaction that happens if you expose chemicals in certain plants and fruits to sunlight or other ultraviolet light. The rash goes away on its own, but it can be uncomfortable..

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Coconut Oil

If you believe the hype, it’s a magic elixir for beautiful skin. It’s true that coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which has proven zit-fighting powers. But it’s also about 90% saturated fat, which can clog your pores. Use it as much as you want on your body -- in fact, research shows it can help with severe dryness or eczema -- but keep it away from your face.

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Very Hot Water

Wash your face following the Goldilocks rule: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. High-temperature water strips your skin of moisture. When that happens, your skin’s oil glands try to replace it by churning out even more oil. The result? Acne breakouts.

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Body Lotion

If you run out of your facial moisturizer, you may be tempted to substitute it with your body lotion. Resist. Most lotions for the body are thicker, and thus more likely to clog your pores. They also may have fragrances or other ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction on the thinner, more delicate skin on your face. Want to check if it’s OK to use on your face? The label should say fragrance free and non-comedogenic

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It’s all the rage on social media: turning school glue into facial masks to root out blackheads. People spread a layer of the white sticky stuff around problem-prone areas, let it dry, and peel it off. Unfortunately, this home hack won’t clean out your pores. It may just leave you with irritated skin or broken blood vessels. Worse yet, you could accidentally strip away the surface layer of your skin.

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Nail Polish

Some people might resort to it in a pinch as a substitute for face paint at Halloween or for costume parties. The only place nail polish belongs is on your fingernails. Most contain ingredients like acetate and formaldehyde that can irritate your skin. To clean up, you’ll need nail polish removers, which have even harsher chemicals like acetones that may damage your face.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 06/22/2021 Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on June 22, 2021


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Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; author, “Skin Rules.”

Angela Lamb, MD, director, Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice, New York City.

American Academy of Dermatology: “Scars: Overview.”

BMJ Open: “Randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of acne.”

International Hyperhidrosis Society: “Sweaty Face and Head.”

Dermatitis: “A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis.“

Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health: “Coconut Oil.”

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on June 22, 2021

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.