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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

The internet is full of product recommendations, and lots of people are ready and willing to hop on the bandwagon of whatever is possible. Social media sites like Instagram, YouTube and recently TikTok, have seen people divulging their skincare routines and recommending products left and right. Without a dermatologist’s advice, however, it’s easy to fall for products that might not work as expected or even go so far as to harm your skin. For this reason, here are some true and unbiased breakdowns of five skincare products that are viral on the internet. Are they really worth the hype?

The Ordinary AHA 30% and BHA 2% Peeling Solution

The Ordinary is becoming a brand well known for simple ingredients without fragrance and unnecessary additives. On top of that, its products are relatively cheap for what they are. The AHA 30% and BHA 2% Peeling Solution has taken off on TikTok because of its bright red colour (honestly making it look like your face is covered in blood when applied) and reputation. AHA is a chemical exfoliant peel that’s meant to remove visible sun damage by sloughing off dead and surface level skin cells. Dark spots and wrinkles are meant to fade and appear less noticeable, as well. BHA on the other hand basically means salicylic acid, which is a common treatment used to clean out pores and consequently get rid of blemishes. 

However, a problem comes from The Ordinary’s highly concentrated doses of both AHA and BHA in this product. AHA’s can be irritating on their own and 30% is a dose that would normally only be handled by professionals. In fact, the product isn’t available to be sold in Canada for this reason. When using AHAs, it’s easy to remove too many superficial layers of skin which exposes a lack of barrier and makes skin prone to sun damage (in essence, your skin could see more damage than it started out with). The Ordinary does include Tasmanian Pepperberry in this product’s ingredient list, which is a much-needed anti-inflammatory ingredient. 

Overall, some people might have good results with this product should they handle it with care. It’s meant to be used after cleansing for five minutes to begin with and then work up to no more than 10 minutes at a time. It should be used only at night and no more than every seven to 10 days. Sunscreen after is a MUST considering the skin’s sensitivity to sun damage after use. While tingling is normal, stinging or extra irritation isn’t. Every individual knows their skin best and whether this product is too irritating for them. For everyone tempted to use this product though, I would say to use with caution.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray

These facial sprays are essential for the “Urban Outfitters aesthetic”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re beneficial to your skin. The brand has a range of three different versions of their popular sprays: the Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater version is marketed as a refreshing boost of hydration, the Aloe, Cucumber and Green Tea version is marketed to be invigorating and revive dry and tired sky, and the Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender version is marketed to be soothing to brighten the complexion. 

The truth about facial sprays in general is that while they can be beneficial, they definitely aren’t necessary in a skincare routine. Creams and gels usually achieve the same effect as sprays but provide a more potent layer of antioxidants and hydration. 

In contrast, the Mario Badescu facial sprays actually contain ingredients that irritate the skin. Fragrant flower extracts and added fragrance make these sprays look nice with their pastel colours and smell nice when applied, but can actually lead to chronic irritation. For this reason, these sprays should definitely be left alone. There are other facial mists and sprays that are better quality and less irritating, but truthfully, moisturizer is probably a safer bet all around. 

Urban Skin RX Cleansing Bar

The Urban Skin RX Cleansing Bar has taken off online for its relatively cheap price and reportedly good results. With a plethora of good reviews on the Urban Skin RX website, the product seems to also live up to the general hype. It claims to improve the appearance of blemishes and remove excess oil. It also has ingredients like salicylic acid, making it a product best for oily skin and skin prone to acne. It’s not recommended for dry or sensitive skin. 

With no outlandish or overly irritating ingredients, the cleansing bar seems like a great option for those who struggle with acne and are looking to improve their skin. It’s meant to both improve the appearance of current breakouts and also prevent breakouts in the future, which makes it a sustainable choice. Although those with dry skin should tread lightly if not stay away altogether, the results seem to be there for this product.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

The Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay has become a cult classic over the years. It’s a bentonite clay powder extracted from the deserts in California that’s meant to be mixed with either water or apple cider vinegar to create a paste consistency. The product claims to remove excess oil from the skin and dry up breakouts, making the appearance of scarring, texture and large pores less noticeable. 

It almost seems too good to be true, and in a way, it is. The mask itself won’t eliminate acne-causing bacteria so it’s more of a quick fix for aesthetic purposes rather than a true skincare miracle. Either way, it does achieve desired results in most people who have tried it. Once again, those with dry or easily irritated skin should steer clear of this mask. It’s a pretty intense product that can leave even oily skin feeling dehydrated.

Acne Patches

Acne patches have become a huge skincare trend on the internet. In essence, they’re translucent stickers that adhere to a pimple or breakout and are meant to absorb excess oils and pull superficial debris from blemishes. There are a variety of brands making them, so perhaps some work better than others. Overall though, there are definitely both positives and negatives to this product. 

The patches create a barrier that effectively protects the skin; if you’re prone to picking your skin, this might be a good product to try. Active ingredients in certain patches are meant to remove or lessen the appearance of the blemish. The difficulty lies in the patch’s effectiveness. They hardly work at deep or hormonal acne spots; truthfully, anything more than a surface level whitehead most likely wouldn’t be phased. For surface layer visibly irritated spots, they can work in an overnight pinch. For deeper acne and larger breakouts, a topical cream or treatment is a much better alternative. 

Eden Plater

Queen's U '21

Eden is a third year English student at Queen's University. She loves dogs, diving into a good book, and listening to music your parents would probably like.
HC Queen's U contributor