Dr Sarah Shah weighs in on the fallout from Bella Thorne’s natural skincare routine
Earlier this week, Bella Thorne shared her nighttime skincare routine in a video for Harper's Bazaar’s “Go to Bed With Me” series. The ten-minute video sees the actress open up about her struggles with acne and talk through her all-natural, DIY products which she makes herself and says have helped clear her skin. However, now Thorne is facing criticism for the routine, with many people taking to social media to counter the claims and call out some of the ingredients that she uses.
In the video, Thorne says that after years of trying every acne treatment, including two years on Accutane, she decided to go all-natural with her skincare. “I met a woman named Jennifer who is amazing and changed my skin in such a short period of time — all of her products are all-natural and she's helping me design my skin-care line,” says Thorne. She then goes on to share the first product in her routine: a homemade scrub consisting of lemon juice, olive oil and sugar which she says helps reduce her acne scars and even out her skin texture. This is when viewers started to take issue.
“BELLA THORNE USED LEMON JUICE ON HER FACE FOR SCARS IN HER NIGHTTIME SKINCARE ROUTINE – DO NOT DO THIS, PLEASE!!!” wrote Reddit user theStarsShineWithinU in a post which has since garnered 378 upvotes and 112 comments many of which are in agreement. “Just reading about the lemon juice and sugar is already making my skin cry,” wrote one user. “I used to put lemon on face when I was a teen and it ruined my skin. My young and naive days,” posted another.
But why can lemon juice be so harmful? “Lemon juice is very high in acidity and can cause damage to your skin,” says Dr Sarah Shah of the Artistry Clinic in London. “As it is a citric acid, lemon juice can alter the natural pH level in your skin, potentially causing skin irritation and sensitivity to the sun. Using lemon juice on your skin before you go out can increase the risks of getting sunburnt because skin becomes so sensitive.” While Dr Shah says are there some benefits of using lemon juice – the pH level can help decrease inflammation that contributes to the formation of acne – on the whole, the side effects outweigh the positives making it a risky choice for DIY skincare. “The main side effect is skin irritation; the acid can irritate the skin and you can experience dryness, redness and peeling of the skin. These effects can be even worse for those with already sensitive skin,” she says. Olive oil, on the other hand, does have good skin benefits, she says, as it contains antioxidants that fight free-radical damage and squalene which is extremely hydrating for the skin.
Another point of contention in Thorne’s routine was her use of coconut oil in a coconut oil, honey, and cherry mask that she uses in lieu of a moisturiser. “I’m actually shocked by the amount of misinformation in that video!” wrote on Reddit user. “She said she has oily acne-prone skin with scarring but still is using coconut oil (highly comedogenic and pore clogging).” Dr Shah agrees.
“In this particular instance, I would say coconut oil is great for the hair, but when it comes to the skin, I would recommend staying away from it,” she says. “Coconut oil is too dense for the skin to absorb so ends up clogging up pores instead. For people with oily skin, coconut oil might not be so beneficial to them.”
The honey, on the other hand, has many skincare benefits Dr Shah says, especially for those suffering from acne. “Raw honey helps balance the bacteria on the skin, and manuka honey in specific if effective for this. Honey speeds the skin cells’ healing process, and if you have blemishes or skin irritation, unpasteurised honey can speed the healing process on the skin and reduce inflammation,” she says. “Raw honey can also be used as a natural exfoliator, removing dull skin and revealing new, radiant skin underneath.” Cherries can also be beneficial, according to Dr Shah, as they are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. However, she does warn that not all skin will react in the same way. “With all of these ingredients, I would suggest applying a small amount to the skin to see if your skin reacts to it, before applying a large amount,” she says.