Most beauty products, like face masks and creams, will be filled with chemicals — that's inevitable. But the hope is these chemicals will help rejuvenate and moisturise our skin instead of leaving a horrible burn after usage. This wasn't the case for one woman who, after using a chemical peel product, awoke with burns across her face.
A UK woman, Sara Chaudhry, took to Twitter claiming she suffered serious chemical burns after using the chemical peel product, AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, from The Ordinary, by DECIEM. Chaudhry told Lifehacker Australia she had done a patch test of the product without issues.
"I did a patch test before," Chaudhry told us . "I noticed tingling after I washed it off but thought it was normal. It was the next morning when my face was oozing wet I realised my skin had burnt off."
Still suffering a chemical burn after a week and a half from the @deciem & no compensation. Here is a before and after:
— Sara Chaudhry (@_SaraChaudhry) January 21, 2020
Chaudry said she told the company about the burns she suffered and it offered her a £6 ($11.50) refund as a "gesture of goodwill."
"I would strongly warn against [using it] because of the high potency of it," Chaudhry said. "I know I'm not the only one suffering I've received other messages and DMs of people who have had the same experience."
We've reached out to DECIEM to confirm Chaudhry's account, which said the issues were being dealt with by the appropriate teams. But it's not the only case we've found. Nine Honey reported on a similar case in early 2019 just with a different product — The Ordinary's Salicylic Acid 2% Solution.
In this woman's case, she applied the serum to her face and felt a tingling soon after.
"It stung quite quickly after I applied it, but naively I assumed that it just meant it was working," the woman told Nine Honey but once she realised it was far more serious, she sought medical advice.
"I ordered an Uber and got to the hospital as soon as I could. Once there I was seen straight away and the doctor agreed I was suffering from chemical burns."
Other threads are filled with rave reviews for the product but some caution users to pay particular attention to how long you should leave it on for due to the chemical used in the product.
The product's key ingredient is alpha hydroxy acid, which is considered safe on the skin within the recommended dosage. The US' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using products with a concentration of 10 per cent or less. This product is labelled as containing 30 per cent.
On The Ordinary's own website, it admits the product is "unavailable in many markets" due to regulation.
"This loving, lovable product is not available in several markets including our homeland of Canada (permanent regulatory limbo)," product's site said. It does also clearly advise to refer to its patch testing guide and to avoid sun exposure after usage.
"This product contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Use a sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterwards," the site reads.
Lifehacker Australia has contacted Australia's chemical regulators, National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), to see what it recommend in regards to AHA and BHA concentration. We'll update this story once we receive responses.
The ACCC explained Australian Consumer Laws require companies to report any product-related death, serious injury or serious illness associated with a consumer product.
"Consumers should carefully check the ingredients label of the product to determine whether the product is safe for them to use," the ACCC told us.
"Consumers that have had an adverse reaction to the product should stop using the product immediately and consult a health care professional about appropriate treatment. They can also report the incident through the Product Safety Australia website."
If you experience an incident using a product, head to Product Safety Australia's site to report it.
Still, it's important to avoid an incident in the first place. While a patch test wasn't enough to stop it from happening to Chaudhry, it's always important to test new products, especially ones containing harsh chemicals like alpha hydroxy acid. Or better yet, avoid using DIY chemical peels completely.
Face masks can be expensive, but the experience of putting something on your face that will (hopefully) change the texture of your skin — and make you feel like a fancy spa patron — is incredibly satisfying. Luckily, there are DIY versions of most masks that can be made with household items, for a whole lot less cash. Below, our guide to the wide world of DIY mask options, including ingredients to avoid and what each ingredient does.