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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Chances are, if you ask a group of people what they want, at least one person is probably going to say “clear skin.” For women, in particular, there’s no escaping the beauty standard that in order to be “flawless,” completely clear, poreless skin is a necessity. While this is completely untrue, some people take it to the extreme. While some swear by it, household items are really not good for your skin in the long run. I by no means have a degree in dermatology, but through my skincare journey and my own research, I feel that I have compiled some tips on what NOT to put on your face and some alternatives that you can use instead for the intended result.

1. The Culprit: Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

Please please please do not put lemon juice or baking soda (or both) on your face. I don’t care what Pinterest or Instagram or some random “natural health” site says – it will do more damage than good in the long run. People use both lemon juice and baking soda because people believe that it will lighten acne and scars, and brighten their complexion. What they don’t know is that the high acidity of lemons can seriously damage their skin, especially if their skin is exposed to sunlight. Baking soda, in contrast, is too basic for use on the skin, which can result in a breakdown of essential bacteria that is used to combat acne. So basically, you may end up with more pimples than you started with.

The Alternative: Acids Specifically Formulated for Skincare. 

When trying to combat acne and dark spots, it’s worth it to try out some acids, such as an Alpha-Hydroxy acid (AHA), an acid that is specially formulated for this purpose. 


Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

2. The Culprit: Toothpaste

Many people believe that putting toothpaste on a zit overnight will magically dry it out and it’ll be gone by morning. I used to believe that (even though it never worked for me) until I actually researched what I was putting on my face. It turns out that yeah, it dries out your skin, but what you’re seeing is irritation, which elevates your problem. Toothpaste was made for teeth and not the skin for a reason!

The Alternative: Drying Lotion

Wanting to dry out a pimple isn’t a crime – I do it all the time. Next time, however, I’d stick to a drying lotion, which for me at least works so well. Yeah, it’s more expensive than toothpaste, but your skin will be thanking you for not making it all peel-y and dry.


Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

m-61 Powerspot Blemish Lotion

3. The Culprit: Harsh Scrubs

It’s hard to not have heard of the cult favorite, St. Ives Apricot Scrub. If I’m being honest, I cringe when hearing the name. This scrub is basically a physical exfoliator formulated with tiny walnut shells. What people don’t know is that these tiny particles create tears in your skin, making it easier for dirt and bacteria to enter it. No matter how hard you try, you can’t scrub off acne. In fact, harsh scrubbing will only irritate your skin. The skin on your face is extremely delicate, so you should always treat it as such. My general rule is that I don’t use products that have had lawsuits against them.

The Alternative: Less Harsh Exfoliation

Not all physical exfoliators are bad, but just make sure that you’re not using it as a daily face wash. I would try to limit it to 3-4 times per week at the absolute MOST. Make sure you’re using it in conjunction with moisturizing products so you don’t end up damaging your skin. Just please don’t use this scrub.


Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

Clinique Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser

The Culprit: Not Moisturizing 

I do not care how oily your skin is – moisturize. I know people who believe that to keep their oils at bay, they need to only moisturize once a day or just cut it out altogether. I cannot express how wrong (and harmful) that is. Not keeping your skin moisturized can actually cause your skin to overproduce oil to compensate, thus creating more breakouts, which is most likely the opposite of what people with oily skin want. Not using moisturizer can actually cause long-term damage.

The Alternative: MOISTURIZE

If you feel like your moisturizer makes you too oily, try a mattifying or gel moisturizer. But make sure you do it.


Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15 PA++

I know it may be tempting to use random household items on your skin (especially in college because they’re free), but sometimes that can be the worst thing for you. Your skin is your largest organ (and its the only one that people can always see) so you have to take care of it the best that you can, even if that means you have to shell out a little bit of cash. Just remember that with a good skincare routine, results don’t come overnight, so don’t immediately go back to your lemon juice if your pimples aren’t gone in a week. Stick with it, and you’ll be golden. And please use sunscreen.

Photo Credits: Cover, 1

Lauryn is a current freshman mass communications major at VCU. Some of her passions include writing, social issues, and missing her dog from back home. Some of her other interests include fashion and watching makeup videos on youtube. After college, she hopes to pursue a career in the journalism field.
Keziah is a writer for Her Campus. She is majoring in Fashion Design with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. HCXO!