Hello, dapper men and lovely dames!
I’m sure you have all heard of Pinterest, much less have about 30 boards full of recipes, life hacks, tutorials for everything under the sun, motivation for workouts, style inspiration, Etsy finds that are beyond adorable, and so much more. Maybe a board or two that borderlines obsession with your fandom (guilty). But not everything on Pinterest can be trusted. I know, not everything on the internet is true. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
I will admit that I have Pinterest binges every now and then…and it never fails that I come across one or two, or a dozen, that just make me cringe so hard. Many of these seem really innocent, easy DIY for beauty or a healthier alternative to commercial products. I cannot tell you what to do, but to tell you to be aware of what you are experimenting with, as to avoid making a colossal mess or even harming yourself.
So, here we go!
So, the general idea behind these pins is that you can melt down crayons and mix with an oil or wax to make custom colors of lip balm, or heat up colored pencils for bright eyeliner.
“But it says on the box that they are non-toxic?”
“Kids eat them occasionally, how can it be harmful as a beauty product?”
The label “non-toxic” is meant as in non-toxic for skin contact while coloring. But prolonged exposure, such as wearing a lip balm or eyeliner all day, is a completely different story and there is a threat of toxicity. There are compounds, chemicals, and other agents we would not ingest on a regular basis.
The dyes and pigments in crayons are not meant for, or safe to use in cosmetics. While the pigments and dyes are regulated by the FDA, the ones in crayons and coloring pencils are not. Common art supplies often use azo dyes for reds and oranges. Azo dyes have been banned for food use for risk of toxicity side effects. Other dyes used are anthraquinone for yellow colors (which is often used as a bird repellant), rylene for darker reds, and alizarin for various other colors, can all cause skin irritation, or contact dermatitis. So, crayon makeup can result in dry itchy skin in the very least.
Who hasn’t accidentally ingested some lipstick, whether by eating while wearing it, or licking/biting your lips? These crayons are made of paraffin wax and pigmentation additives. Paraffin wax has a higher melting point (115-154 degrees Fahrenheit) than our body temperature can break down. Even mixed with oil or another wax that does melt at a lower temperature, the pigments/dyes/whatever other additives will break away from what has melted and cannot be absorbed or digested properly, even with the help of stomach acid. This makes for a much higher dose than what was intended to make that non-toxic mark.
Also, how on earth can these be as functional as actual makeup? So much paraffin makes it hard to spread and your face will smell like crayons all day.
While it likely isn’t that dangerous in the long run, it is my belief that if we are making DIY products from “regular household items,” we should be aware of the ingredients and risks involved.
DIY Tooth Whitening
The majority of these pins tell us that if we make a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice, our smiles will quickly become whiter, brighter, and shinier. With these super cheap ingredients probably already in the house, why spend time and money at the dentist’s office or on whitening kits? The problem is that these ingredients can be harmful when applied and scrubbed into the surface of the tooth.
Baking soda is a mild abrasive that definitely is a common ingredient in whitening toothpaste. When mixed with water it releases free radicals that will break down the stain molecules on the surface of the teeth, which then can be brushed away. But, being abrasive, the baking soda can wear down the enamel of the teeth when used too often or in the wrong quantities, as well as erode the gum line. Dentists who see rapid gum recession often find that misuse of baking soda is the culprit. Once the enamel is worn down, there is no repairing the damage. It also tastes awful. Just AWFUL, and gritty. Some people use baking soda in place of toothpaste completely, which will not provide you with the fluoride needed to re-mineralize your teeth.
Hydrogen peroxide penetrates the enamel and causes an oxidation reaction and breaks apart the molecules staining your teeth. Some recommend that you swish it around in your mouth undiluted, but the whitening effects are minimal and could take months to see results. It may also cause tooth sensitivity and irritation of the soft tissue of your mouth, especially your gums. Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient in at home tooth whitening kits, but they have a very different delivery system and formulation as to not harm to the teeth and gums.
Lemon juice is another popular Pinterest antidote to tooth stains. It is supposed to bleach the minerals from your teeth and make them appear whiter. Unfortunately, lemons are so acidic, they can erode your tooth enamel, even more so than orange or grapefruit juice. Lemon juice used in conjunction with baking soda, the effects on your teeth can be very destructive. While your teeth may appear whiter, shinier and slicker… once the enamel is damaged, it cannot be repaired since it contains no living cells to rebuild.
Tooth erosion is very serious…resulting in sensitivity, increased yellowing of the teeth, cracks and chips, pain, and indentations in the teeth, and leave you more susceptible to cavities and decay. I am always supportive of a good natural solution, but these teeth whitening methods I fear are more harm than good.
Brown Sugar Hair Straightening
or Milk Spray for Straight Hair
The idea is to mix brown sugar with water and spray on hair and air dry. With the milk spray, simply put non-boiled milk in a spray bottle, apply to hair for an hour before washing out and air dry. Sorry, but there is no natural method to get curly hair to straighten just by adding a spritz and allowing to air dry, believe me, I wish. Naturally curly girl here! While not harmful to the hair, I wouldn’t waste my time with these.
Facial Masks, Scrubs, and More
Sigh. Alright, there are so many recipes for facial masks and scrubs. Most are pretty harmless, but you still have to be cautious. If you really would like to try any DIY facial treatment, please, please, PLEASE… Follow the link to the source and make sure it is a reputable one. Make sure your ingredients are natural and organic, and patch test before slathering some concoction on your face!
One of these scrubs is a mixture of lemon juice and sugar, or with baking soda. Citrus juice can cause your skin serious irritation, sun sensitivity, inflammation, and disrupt the skin’s natural oil production. Scrubbing your face with an abrasive agent like sugar or baking soda can only increase the irritation, especially in sensitive or broken skin.
Homemade sunscreen seems to be another popular trend in the Pinterest world as well. These recipes are varied and some could be actually more harm than good. I say this because they are full of oils that could actually let the sun’s rays penetrate the skin even more. When commercial sunscreens are tested, reformulated and tested again to ensure your safety and protection. Homemade sunscreens don’t offer any solid guarantee of protection from the sun, which is not something I would risk my health for. Whether your reasons are to save a few bucks or to avoid excessive chemicals, it really is not worth a deep burn on yourself or your kids…nor is it worth the risk of melanoma.
Another popular pin I see floating around is the cinnamon and honey face mask. This one has literally been dubbed “the burning face mask.” (Nope, nope, nope.) It claims to remove scars and blemishes from the skin, and while the recipes do vary, the main ingredients consist of lemon and cinnamon. Reading through comments of people who have tried this on various forums…all report that it does burn, some could not let it set for the recommended 30 minutes. Many people reported that their skin broke out in red, blotchy patches after rinsing, and some even broke out in hives. To be fair, cinnamon is a chemical exfoliant and does have many benefits…but it can also result in irritated skin, dermatitis, or chemical burns if used improperly.
I cannot tell you to definitely never ever use a DIY beauty recipe, but I do urge you to be skeptical when perusing the vast world of Pinterest and other sources online. Make sure you aren’t sensitive or allergic to ingredients by patch testing. Be aware of any potential risks, and make sure the recipe is from a valid source with the correct ratios of ingredients!
This post is only scratching the surface of what to be wary of while pinning. Have you ever run across a “bad pin” or wondered about certain popular trends on Pinterest? Let me know about it!
Have a beautiful day, ladies and gentlemen!