Extreme beauty hacks ‒ are these DIYs more like DI-don’ts?

“None of these hacks are a good idea in the slightest.”

Dear Internet, thanks for being the easy-access source of information we all can receive through our shiny digital devices. Thanks for minimising our thinking capacity and letting search engines find the answers to our queries whilst we sit comfortably on our butts. You’ve given us an array of wonderful “how tos” and life hacks at our desperate times of need. Especially in the realm of beauty, us regular folks now know how to create that smoky eye, contour like a pro or how to achieve voluminous lips without looking like a clown from hell. However, you must admit that some online beauty tips have perhaps shifted somewhat more towards the extreme side, haven’t they?

Over the years, we’ve seen some insightful and useful tips by various beauty bloggers/vloggers within the social media sphere. Lately, however, it has become increasingly popular to give light-hearted advice by experimenting with unconventional methods that go beyond the use of traditional beauty and cosmetic products. It’s practically become unavoidable to scroll through your Instagram feed without coming across any of these rather obscure DIY beauty clips.

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Katherine Ward´s DIY mascara, image credit: i.ytimg.com

At this point, we´ve probably seen it all by now. Youtuber Katherine Ward showed us how to make mascara by smashing up delicious Oreo cookies, Farah Dhukai´s Instagram video of pouring Listerine on her scalp has received over two million hits, and Tasmin Dhaliwal even went as far as making her face mask out of Elmer´s glue. Seriously, is there anything beauty bloggers haven’t tried at this point? Despite the millions of hits and followers these bloggers are receiving, none of these hacks are a good idea in the slightest.

With over 4.3 million Instagram followers, beauty DIY guru Farah Dhukai is known for getting creative with her viral beauty hacks. One of her recent, talked-about hacks involves smearing wasabi on her lips to achieve natural-looking fuller lips. The blogger claimed that the spicy Japanese horseradish we have with our sushi is also a great trick against wrinkly and dry lips.

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Farah Dhukai´s DIY wasabi hack, image credit: Allure.com 

“Sure, it will inflame your lips but do you really have to be that desperate?”

During her recent trip to the hair salon, Dubai-based MUA and beauty blogger Huda Kattan casually decided to let her hairdresser smear Nutella all over her hair rather than on a piece of toast. Combined with a drizzle of condensed milk, the ever so yummy hazelnut chocolate spread was used as a natural hair dye. Her blond locks became a light brown shade after this unusual dye method. The blogger of course decided to share the experience with her followers by posting a video on Instagram that has since reached over one million views.

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Huda Kattan´s Nutella hair dye, image credit: express.co.uk

As amusing and entertaining these videos may be, dermatologists and experts from the beauty and cosmetics industry have warned about the serious dangers some of these beauty hacks could have. “It’s wrong on so many levels to promote things like this”, says entrepreneur and beauty salon owner Demee Koch. “Seriously wasabi?”-referring to Farah Dhukai’s viral lip vid. “Sure, it will inflame your lips but do you really have to be that desperate? Wasabi will in fact damage your lips in the long term because it’s very strong. Each person is different so you might even have an allergic reaction.”

However, it’s not just the use of non-cosmetic products that could be hazardous. Another lip tip that has come under fire recently is provided by social media beauty Zohra. With over two million views, the talked-about Instagram video shows her cutting the tip of used lipstick and then smashing and mixing it with face primer to make her own liquid lipstick. Even though she’s using actual cosmetic products, some products may not be suitable for other parts of your body. That’s why creams, for example, are labelled “body”, “face”, “feet” etc. because it’s all about the formula. The ingredients are designed to cater to the needs of each specific area.

“Even non-toxic ingredients can cause irritation.”

“There is a reason behind the different categories of products due to safety factors: there are regulations,” says cosmetics chemist Ginger King. “You need to be very careful with DIY lip products because the product applied can be ingested. You won’t know much about a DIY product unless it’s tested and proven safe by a clinical lab with repeated results or reviewed by a toxicologist,” says Ginger.

And just to be a little bit more ´Captain Obvious` here: you are more likely to run into a degree of risks of irritable reactions when using products in the long term that are not formulated for topical use. Even non-toxic ingredients can cause irritation. After beauty vlogger Rachel Levin´s DIY Youtube video of her using Crayola colour pencils as eyeliner, Crayola had to issue an official statement saying that they wouldn’t recommend their products for cosmetic use. Ironically, Clinique has actually teamed up with Crayola recently to launch a limited edition of cute little chubby lipsticks. And guess what? They are safe to use because the product has been formulated for topical use, unlike others that can cause irritation.

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Rachel Levin´s DIY Crayola Eyeliner, image credit: i.ytimg.com

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Product that is safe to use: Crayola for Clinique Chubby Sticks. Image credit: beautyamalac.com 

Rochelle Wickramasuriya’s cayenne pepper face masks claim to help reduce wrinkles and create a natural radiant facial glow. Despite being enriched with antioxidants, dermatologist Doris Day warns that putting cayenne pepper directly onto your skin isn’t such a bright idea. “Spices like cayenne pepper and cinnamon are irritants”, she says. “The pepper can actually burn your skin if you use too much of it or if you have sensitive skin. You might have a glow after trying this, but I don’t know how healthy it will look.”

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Rochelle Wickramasuriya’s cayenne pepper face mask. Image credit: Daily Mail 

Which begs the question as to why these DIYs (that are more like DI-don’ts) are receiving millions of views? Do these beauty bloggers really believe what they are doing is actually enhancing their appearance? With a wide range of legitimate products out there on the market, do we really have to resort to items from our food pantry and pencil case?

Making your own products is not a new phenomenon, especially when making natural remedies from nature’s finest. But put it this way: It’s one thing to make an avocado face mask, but a whole other story when you use…I don’t know GLUE? They say beauty is pain, but surely not until it burns your face off?

“This is a huge branding contest with everyone trying to attract followers and sponsors”

Beauty expert and author of Hello Gorgeous Beauty Products in America ‘40s- ‘60s, Rachel Weingarten explains that even major cosmetics companies resorted to experimenting before perfecting their products back in the early days. “If you look back, historically, people were always using curious ingredients as beauty potions or solutions”, says Rachel. “Maybelline was invented from coal and grease, for example, and in Shogun, Japan, nightingale droppings were used to whiten skin. In other words, these oddities aren’t new, but the delivery system is.” Meanwhile, Rachel further explains that these bloggers aren’t just doing such crazy hacks for the sake of it. “This is a huge branding contest with everyone trying to attract followers and sponsors”, says Rachel. “So, when we see unusual and different kinds of ideas, those could very well be calculated moves.”

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Should we really useDIY products from our everyday pantry? Image credit: Pinterest

Rather than useful beauty advice, Demee believes that these DIY viral videos circulating all over social media are more than a pop culture trend. “Beauty bloggers in the past became famous for giving their honest opinions about products ‒ but not any more”, she says. “People should be vigilant and not buy into something just because it’s being endorsed by a blogger with millions of followers. With these videos, it’s just about playing with the trend and getting attention. Smart people would not imitate something like this.”

“Where does this leave those searching for the ultimate beauty tip? Who can we trust?”

However, whilst some existing DIY beauty hacks actually are useful, perhaps the more extreme ones are more suitable for entertainment purposes only. Remember the MTV show Jackass? They did the most bizarre stunts on TV, but would always encourage the viewers “not to try this at home”. And with some high-profile beauty bloggers resorting to extreme beauty hacks for the sake of click bait, where does this leave those searching for the ultimate beauty tip? Who can we trust? Regardless of how this trend continues to evolve in the future and whatever the next crazy tip will be (cement mud baths perhaps?), the ultimate beauty tip will always remain the following: common sense. Because surely, you don’t want to end up at A&E now do you?

 Image credit for cover image: Sara Julia Art 

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