The World Wide Web is a vast and wondrous place, equally full of opinions you never asked for and advice you never knew you needed. Stradling that line? The millions upon hundreds of millions of Google search results for “products to never put on your face.”

As we are talking about the internet here, conflicting opinions are to be expected. One person swears by a certain exfoliator, while another swears it ruined their skin. However, almost everyone on the internet seems to agree that these seven products are the ones to avoid.

The reasons why you may want to eliminate the following scrubs, tools, and masks from your facial care routine vary — some are too harsh, some are ineffective, some just don’t live up to the hype.

But all seven have one very important thing in common: They have no business being near your skin.

1. St. Ives Apricot Scrub

What’s missing from the fine print:

Has there ever been a fall from grace as far and as forceful as that of the iconic St. Ives Apricot Scrub? We think not.

The grainy exfoliator was a cult-favorite for years back in the day… until consumers caught onto the fact that it was hurting their skin more than helping it.

In 2016, a lawsuit was filed against St. Ives and its parent company, Unilever, claiming that the crushed walnut particles the product relied on for exfoliation actually caused microtears in the skin, leading to infection and overall irritation.

(Studies have shown that fruit pits, which are structurally similar to walnuts, are too abrasive for delicate facial skin — particularly when it comes to acne treatments.)

The verdict

Dermatologists agree that ground walnuts are a skin care no-no, and while the St. Ives lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, the internet still agrees: It’s better to be safe than sorry, no matter how good this stuff smells.

If you still crave the freshly-buffed feeling of a physical exfoliant, look for hydrogenated jojoba beads or gentle corn grains instead.

2. Clarisonic Face Brush

What’s missing from the fine print:

The dangers of over-exfoliating are real, and dermatologists say that at most, you should be exfoliating one to two times per week.

Any more than that could cause major irritation… which is precisely what happened to more than a few former fans of the Clarisonic Face Brush.

First thing’s first: The Clarisonic Face Brush is considered a “sonic cleanser” and not an exfoliator. However, since it’s equipped with fairly firm bristles that vibrate to cleanse the skin, some exfoliation is indeed happening there.

If you bust out the Clarisonic morning and night, as many users do for that “deep clean” feeling, it’s possible it can lead to irritation. In 2012, one YouTube vlogger went so far as to call his Clarisonic experience “six weeks from hell.” Not long after, the internet banded together to cancel Clarisonic.

The verdict

Sonic cleansing devices are derm-approved — but not for every skin type. More resilient skin may be able to handle them a couple of times per week, but sensitive, thinner skin will want to skip this altogether.

Really want a good clean? Try the #60SecondRule.

3. Face wipes

What’s missing from the fine print:

Face wipes have long been hailed as the ultimate lazy-girl hack. Magazines love to tell you to keep a pack by the side of your bed for easy makeup removal, or store them in the center console of your car for on-the-go emergencies. But unfortunately, getting a good cleanse isn’t that easy.

Used daily, makeup remover wipes can actually cause friction and even tear the skin. Plus, since they’re dampened, a lot of alcohol and preservatives are required to keep the wipes from molding (gross, but true) — neither of which are great for sensitive skin.

On top of that, wet wipes — from face to bum — are said to be a huge pollution to the planet. They’re mostly made from polyester, polypropylene, cotton, rayon, and more, which won’t decompose quickly.

If you’re using a wipe every night (and more), that’s a lot of non-biodegradable blockage happening.

The verdict

Even if your particular skin can handle the abrasiveness and alcohol content of face wipes, it might be time to toss this eco-unfriendly habit.

That being said, you should never go to bed with your makeup on, so why not keep a bottle of micellar water and a reusable cloth on your nightstand for easy access? The combo is easy on your skin and easy on the environment. (Just be sure to follow up with a thorough cleanse in the morning.)

4. Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser

What’s missing from the fine print:

This may be the most controversial addition to the list, since Cetaphil cleanser is often cited by dermatologists as a must-have for sensitive skin. But a deeper look at the ingredient list — and the internet’s critiques — shows otherwise.

There are only eight ingredients in Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben).

Three of them are potentially-carcinogenic parabens, and five of them make the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List of possible endocrine disruptors. Only one — water — comes with an unproblematic background.

The verdict

If you’re a fan of clean beauty, or are otherwise concerned about the chemical content of your beauty products, Cetaphil probably isn’t the cleanser for you.

To get a gentle cleanse without the harmful chemicals, try the oil cleansing method with a pure, natural oil (like jojoba or olive oil).

5. Bioré Pore Strips

What’s missing from the fine print:

Bioré Pore Strips, once a beloved blackhead-removing product, have been called out by skin-savvy internet sleuths and now there’s no going back.

First, let’s separate the rumors from the realness: Bioré Pore Strips don’t cause capillaries to break, as many beauty enthusiasts believe. They do, however, have the potential to cause tearing (are you noticing a theme, here?) or further irritate already-compromised skin (think: thin, dry, or acne-prone types) when pulled off.

This is due to the tacky, sticky nature of the strips, which comes courtesy of Polyquaternium-37: a key ingredient in the Bioré product that’s more commonly found in hairspray.

The verdict

While there’s nothing like the ew-inducing and awe-inspiring feeling of looking at all of the “gunk” on a freshly-removed Bioré strip, your blackheads may be better off with a more traditional (and dermatologist-recommended) treatment.

6. Boscia Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask Peel-Off Charcoal Masks

What’s missing from the fine print:

In 2017, the popularity of peel-off masks made of charcoal and actual, literal adhesive (like the Boscia Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask) was off-the-charts… but the love, thankfully, was short-lived.

After a YouTuber’s “Charcoal Face Mask Gone Wrong” video went viral, customers started questioning the safety of said masks, and dermatologists and aestheticians stepped in to set the record straight.

Even though peel-off charcoal masks may help remove dirt and buildup from your pores, they also remove precious skin cells and even vellus hair, leaving skin raw and ripe for irritation.

Charcoal doesn’t discriminate when it comes to “detoxifying.” In other words, the substance removes both good and bad cells – hence the caution to avoid ingesting charcoal when taking medications.

The verdict

Experts say that one application might not be the worst thing in the world, but the consistent use of any peel-off face mask could result in some unpleasant side effects. Instead, opt for a clay mask (which you can easily DIY) to help absorb excess oil.

7. Glamglow Glittermask Gravitymud Firming Treatment Mask

What’s missing from the fine print:

Chalk this one up to Instagram appeal. Glitter-infused face masks, like the Glamglow Glittermask Gravitymud Firming Treatment, had their 15 minutes of fame a few years back — but today, it takes more than a little shimmer to impress skin care enthusiasts.

Besides being detrimental to the environment (glitter is a microplastic, meaning it’s too small to be filtered through water treatment plants and ends up polluting the water supply), experts say glitter particles can be abrasive to the skin.

The verdict

Sparkly selfies aside, glitter has zero beauty benefits. Mud, on the other hand, does — so if you’re looking for a cleansing, firming treatment, look no further than Dead Sea mud.

Keeping your skin safe

If the internet is to be trusted — and based on the scientific studies that back up these claims, it is — it’s in your skin’s best interest to steer clear of abrasive exfoliating tools and ingredients, including crushed walnuts and glitter; anything with high alcohol, preservatives, or paraben content; and too-sticky products, like pore strips and peel-off masks.

Stay safe out there, skin care enthusiasts.


Jessica L. Yarbrough is a writer based in Joshua Tree, California, whose work can be found on The Zoe Report, Marie Claire, SELF, Cosmopolitan, and Fashionista.com. When she’s not writing, she’s creating natural skin care potions for her skin care line, ILLUUM.