The worst skincare sins I ever committed

No, I don’t just mean “I used makeup wipes/witch hazel/products with fragrance!”

I mean I did some dumb shit to my skin that any dermatologist would smack me for. Luckily, I only did most of this stuff once or twice, so it never got a chance to really cause long-term damage.

But if you adopted any of these habits on a regular basis then you could easily damage your moisture barrier, cause scarring, and even give yourself a nasty chemical burn.

So, believe me when I say, it’s not skincare-snobbery – it’s just a bad f**king idea.

Straight up lemon juice on the face

I remember doing this at maybe 13-14 after reading some natural herbal book from the 90’s that my mum kept among our cookbooks.

Most of it was fairly standard, like:

  • steam your face over a bowl of hot water for an at-home spa feel
  • different herbal teas that help with digestion or insomnia
  • use olive oil on your cuticles or with sugar to make a body scrub

But I remember seeing that “lemon juice is great for evening out skin tone”.

Spotting a lemon in our fruitbowl, I figured I’d grab one, juice it, and apply twice daily as this arbitrary text advised.

Nowadays I use a 20% Vitamin C serum to help with my post inflammatory erythema, so I understand where the book was coming from… but I’m more than happy to have graduated into proper cosmetics.

Retinol + eyebrow wax

This is one you always think you can get away with, it won’t happen to you, just this once you’ll try it…

And then you’re missing a chunk of skin along the orbital bone. Look, I’ll include my own reference picture if you don’t believe me.


Retinol and accutane are awesome for clearing the skin, but it is preferable to keep the skin on your face.

Because of the way they work to increase cell turnover, they leave your skin very fragile, fresh, and delicate. That’s why it’s extra-sensitive to the sun and you need to be cautious when exposing it to acids, lasers, and wax designed to terrorise your hair follicules.

DIY skincare

I would have done anything to get rid of my cystic acne – and Pinterest has thousands of supposed all-natural cures that Big Skincare doesn’t want you to know.

Luckily, I never got into the “lemon juice + baking soda + charcoal + essential oils” kind of DIY masks.

Anything that doubles as a drain cleaner can stay the f**k away from my face, thanks.

What I did do, was chuck some cinnamon, turmeric, and yogurt into a bowl with some honey and apply to my face for 20 minutes.

DIY Turmeric Skincare
Via Hello Glow

I was hoping to lighten acne scars, but it didn’t do much apart from stain my bowl, towel, shirt, sink, and face yellow. Not quite sure why I didn’t anticipate that, but you live and learn.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub… more than once

All you need to know is that there’s a whole class action lawsuit against this product for the micro-tears it gave users.


Why my silly-goose-self purchased it more than once, is a mystery akin to the Bermuda Triangle.

A routine consisting of bar soap, apple cider vinegar, and shea butter

My aesthetician visibly winced when I told her this one – and in retrospect I’d reach back into 2018 and smack myself.

I remember getting into a rabbit-hole of Twitter threads devoted to how different users cleared their acne. African black soap, ACV as a toner, and straight up shea butter seemed to work for a lot of people who swore that beauty brands were just out to take our money when natural ingredients worked just as well.

Normally I’m not a gullible gal, but the slew of before and afters were what swayed me – people with skin as acneic as mine or worse, now glowing and clear with barely a pore in sight.

Suffice to say, the bar soap and undiluted apple cider vinegar completely stripped my face whilst the highly comedogenic shea butter doubled down and clogged my pores resulting in yet more acne.

So, forgive me skincare-enthusiasts, because I sinned A LOT. All I can say is I’m sorry, I know better now, and my poor, traumatised skin has received a lot of well-deserved pampering since.

Feel free to comment your worst skincare sins – I can’t be the only one!

One thought

  1. Not sure if this falls under a ‘skin care routine’ BUT my sister and I used a fade away cream to lighten the dark marks on our skin. We’re both dark skinned, have acne scars and live in a tropical climate.

    Needless to say we applied it twice a day as recommended and it bleached out our skin. After that I’ve been extremely weary about any skin care products.


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