13 Beauty Trends that Are Downright Dangerous

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021

These dangerous hair, skin, and makeup trends may look cool, but they are off-limits, according to experts.

Skip these beauty trends

You shouldn’t have to suffer to look good. Certain beauty treatments could even go beyond painful and into territory where they might actually cause you serious harm. Stay safe and avoid these beauty trends and treatments that experts warn against.

Woman with hands on stomach
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Using waist trainers to achieve a slim midsection

This trend involves wearing a corset-like bodice for several hours of the day for extended periods of time to achieve an hourglass shape. The issue with this perceived figure-slimming fix, however, is the potential health damages that can arise from its use, according to Grace Anglin, a nurse practitioner at Capizzi MD in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Consider how tight this garment feels on your skin when you put it on; then imagine how it makes your internal organs feel,” she says. “Squeezing your organs together and decreasing the available internal space they have is not a good thing.”

Dangerous nevus on skin - melanoma
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Attempting to remove a mole at home

Most of us have moles and, yes, they’re pesky and annoying, but if you’re hoping to remove a mole, seek the assistance of a board-certified dermatologist, and never, ever attempt to DIY it. “I’ve seen people with red sores all over their body where they tried to use eggplant extract or some other herbal online remedy to remove their own moles,” says Anna Guanche, MD, dermatologist and founder of the Bella Skin Institute. “The result is they’re all scarred up—oftentimes permanently.” Another reason to seek out a professional? Your dermatologist can have the mole tested to make sure it’s not cancerous.

Woman doing botox injection in lips.
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Ordering “Botox” online and injecting it into your face

Believe it or not, this happens every day. There are hundreds of websites that sell an injectable they claim is Botox (or something allegedly similar). They’ll even ship it right to your home. While it might sound tempting, especially considering the cost of going to medical practice and having it injected by a trained practitioner, leave this one to the pros. “Not only is there no way for you to know what you’re actually injecting, but those without medical backgrounds or experience with neurotoxins also should not be injecting any products for this purpose,” warns Anglin.

close up of deodorant stick
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Using deodorant as makeup primer

While antiperspirant is formulated to minimize sweat under your armpits throughout the day, it was definitely not made to be on your face. Despite this, people have started to use it as a face primer. Not a smart idea, according to experts. “Putting antiperspirant on your face will likely lead to clogged pores, which could result in blackheads and acne,” says Anglin. “Furthermore, the fragrances used in deodorant could possibly irritate and inflame the skin on your face.”

Waking up to gorgeous skin
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Fixing self-tanning streaks with a magic eraser

Some beauty bloggers are swearing by the Magic Eraser, a cleaning sponge meant to remove stains around your house, as a quick-fix solution for self-tanner streaks. Not a smart idea, according to experts. “The sponges are not only abrasive, but they contain chemicals that should not be placed on the skin, let alone scrubbed into it,” says Melanie D. Palm, MD, San Diego-based dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. “It can cause rashes, itching, skin breakdown, and in rare circumstances, a systemic and life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.” For a streak-free faux tan, she suggests exfoliating before applying it and washing the palms and soles of your feet thoroughly immediately after application.

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Using glue to remove blackheads

Blackheads are essentially clogged pores that look like brown dots on your face. They’re tricky to remove, but thankfully there are plenty of over-the-counter treatments that work. One not to use is glue—yes, you read that right. There’s been a recent trend of using regular school glue to remove blackheads and other blemishes. Aside from the risk of getting it in your eye, this kind of glue is not made for your face and can leave your skin irritated and worse than it was to start with, warns Anglin. Instead, she suggests seeing an experienced aesthetician regularly for dermaplaning, extractions, and light chemical peels.

African American woman applying mascara
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Making your own eyelash serum

There are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription products promising to lengthen and volumize your lashes. Go ahead and give them a try, but avoid making your own concoction in your kitchen at all costs. “We all need to remember how important our eyes are and how sensitive they can be,” says Anglin. “Plus, there are so many options available on the market, such as Latisse, that safely promote the growth of long healthy lashes.”

Woman applying moisturiser on face
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Applying hemorrhoid cream to puffy eyes

No one wants to walk around with under-eye bags and dark circles, but the best remedies involve sleep, hydration, and cooling products, not Preparation H. “There is a reason hemorrhoid creams are used for a specific area on the body—the ingredients are not meant to be near sensitive areas like your eyes,” says John Diaz, MD, a plastic surgeon based in Beverly Hills. “Instead use chilled cucumber slices or cold packs under your eyes to reduce swelling.”

Woman Using Charcoal Cosmetic Face Mask
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Treating your own skin cancer with black salve

Black salve, also known by the brand name Cansema, is a dangerous and controversial alternative cancer treatment that more and more people are using to “cure” themselves in the comfort of their own home. But, according to experts, the stuff is toxic. “The product is commonly classified as an escharotic—a topical paste that burns and destroys skin tissue and leaves behind a thick, black scar called an eschar,” says Dr. Guanche. Instead, see a dermatologist immediately to ensure you’re receiving proper treatment.

Close up of a hairdresser blow-drying woman's hair
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Getting a Brazilian Blowout

You may have heard about this popular hair straightening treatment that results in smoother, sleeker hair. While it’s hailed as a hair-repairing solution, since it claims not to cause any damage to the follicles, experts warn that it’s dangerous to your health. “The FDA has issued strong health warnings about the risk of allergic reactions, toxicity, and asthma attacks caused by the high levels of formaldehyde used in this process,” says Dr. Guanche. “Even ‘formaldehyde-free’ blowouts have formaldehyde, so I recommend hair conditioners and masks instead.”

Hand in medical gloves holding dropper and bottle of beauty serum. Beauty product for skincare concept.
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Purchasing chemical peel ingredients and DIYing it at home

A chemical peel is a kind of treatment you definitely want to see a professional for, as it involves blistering the skin to the point of it peeling off. While it can be great for skin renewal—when performed by a professional—avoid doing it yourself with ingredients purchased online. “There is no way of knowing what’s really in the product purchased, and there are many counterfeit products out there which can be very dangerous,” warns Jacqui Terese, a medical aesthetician in the offices of Dr. Joseph A Russo in Boston. “A reputable distributor would never allow this, as their products are only sold to medically managed offices with codes for tracking purposes.”

Multicoloured pencils France
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Using colored pencils and crayons as makeup

Pencils and crayons that are intended for arts and crafts projects are definitely not meant to be used as makeup substitutions. “Although most of these coloring tools are non-toxic, it’s possible that they contain higher levels of lead than what is generally recommended as safe,” says Dr. Palm. “Additionally, some of the colors, dyes, and stabilizers used in these creative tools are dangerous on the face, and, as a result, patients may accidentally ingest dangerous materials or develop contact allergies and skin problems or eye infections from use.”


Skin bleaching

This trend of using actual bleach on the skin to relieve redness, lighten skin tone, and clear up acne is downright dangerous, according to experts. “There are often dangerous chemicals in the mix, most notably hydroquinone, which is legal in the United States but has been banned in Europe and Japan because of fears that it causes cancer,” says Joanna Shu, founder of Refresh Skin Therapy. As a general rule, she suggests using skin-care products that contain natural alternatives to hydroquinone, such as licorice or bearberry extract. “They both are powerful, skin-soothing antioxidants that even out skin tone and fade dark spots, and have the safest rating on the environmental working group’s skin deep ingredient database.”