Skin Care Scams: Products to Avoid

Some of us do A LOT in the name of skin care and not necessarily in the good way. This post is here to expose the skin scare scams and, because there are so many of them, this will likely become a series. We get these so-called skin care “tips” and “hacks” from old wive’s tales passed down to us, celebrities, and YouTubers and take their word for it. However, estheticians and dermatologists alike often cringe when they discover some of the things we put on our skin. In the first edition of #SkinCareScams, let’s uncover why people are putting the things meant for “down there” on their faces.

SCAM: Preparation H

In a recent Masterclass with celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic and his long-time client Kim Kardashian-West, he revealed that he uses Preparation H to “tighten the skin” underneath the eyes before applying concealer. Preparation H is an over-the-counter (OTC) that is used to treat hemorrhoids. *Record scratch* While the anus is a sensitive area it isn’t exactly like the area around your eyes. And how exactly is it supposed to help dark circles and puffiness anyway?

Back in the day (like pre-1990), Preparation H used to contain Biodyne and shark liver oil. The combination of the two reduced swelling and healed wounds quickly. But the FDA stopped approving them for use in hemorrhoid cream treatments in the USA in the early 90s (the Canadian version still contains these ingredients). So, unless Kim Kardashian-West gets her Preparation H imported from Canada, she’s putting hemorrhoid cream beneath her eyes just because. Even still, if it’s made for your butt you don’t want to put it around your eyes.

Preparation H is mainly an occlusive agent consisting of mineral oil and petrolatum. The other active ingredient is phenylephrine (which replaced Biodyne), a common ingredient in cough syrup that will constrict your blood vessels. If your under-eye dark circles and puffiness was due to your blood vessels pooling in that area, Preparation H miiiight work but only temporarily. And using it is likely to exacerbate the appearance of dark circles causing more harm than good. Dark circles may actually be a result of hyperpigmentation and Preparation H (in any of its formulations) definitely does not work for that.

SCAM: Milk of Magnesia

You might not be crazy enough to put hemorrhoid cream under your eyes, but you could be considering using a laxative as a primer. Well, don’t.

Milk of Magnesia is a popular laxative that has been making the rounds on beauty YouTube and I am constantly shocked at how many people are trying this. The rumor is that MoM is the perfect primer if you have oily skin. The truth is that using MoM will likely exacerbate your oily skin problems in the long run. This comes down to simple pH. Milk of Magnesia has a pH of about 10.5 which is way too alkaline for our skin. Using MoM as a primer actually strips your pores and, over time, will make you oilier and even cause acne. Not to mention there is a good chance you’ll develop contact dermatitis.

SCAM? Urine Skin Therapy

Perhaps the most extreme skin care scam is washing your face with urine. Why people would think washing their face with pee was a good idea is beyond me yet here we are. You can find talk of using urine to clear acne (mainly) on YouTube, in forums, articles across the web, and even on TV. Yes, The Doctors aired a segment on this very thing. It’s definitely controversial.

So why do they do it? As we know urine contains urea which is an exfoliant, humectant, antimicrobial, and contains antibodies and anti-inflammatory properties. Urine itself is sterile, surprisingly, but only if you’re using your own pee on yourself. You definitely cannot use some one else’s pee as a toner or face wash (gross!) and if you’re on any medications, have a history of UTIs or STDs, or have diabetes you can skip this altogether. In order for this to “work” you have to use the first pee of the day and use it immediately to prevent any contamination.

The question mark above is because there is no concrete evidence for or against it. Of course, there have been no clinical studies that can confirm if washing your face with pee helps cure your acne or not. And technically there is no real harm in washing your face with your own pee (minus a rash here and there). But seeing as to how you can get treatments prescribed from your dermatologist with higher concentrations of urea or purchase OTC products with urea from brands like Eucerin and LaRoche-Posay… this is feeling like a scam.

What are some other skin care scams you’re curious about?

Image Credit: unnamed model via Thank God I’m Natural