Public Service Announcement: Don’t mix your drinks! Err, I mean cleansers…

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…or the one where Kat nearly burned her face off.

Father Ted Careful Now Down With This Sort Of Thing

So I was going about my usual nightly routine (brush teeth, remove makeup, inspect mug in mirror and apply necessary product to ward off wrinkles/acne/vampires) when I noticed my skin was a little flaky. “Needs some exfoliant,” I sagely noted and I grabbed my exfoliating cleanser of choice. But alas it was empty, nary a drop to be had. Not to be dissuaded from the task at hand, I hunted for another product. My eyes alighted upon the little jar of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda, bread soda) I keep in my bathroom, for teeth whitening every so often. I had used this in the past as an exfoliant and had good results, so a la The Beauty Brains‘ instructions I mixed in a bit with a non-exfoliating cleanser and set to work.

I left it to sit for a minute or two as I brushed my teeth, so the chemical exfoliant could work its magic, when I noticed a whiff of something odd. I casually glanced around for the culprit (the other half’s smelly socks, a pongy towel) when I realised what the stink reminded me of – hair dye. Then it occurred to me that the smell was getting stronger… and it was coming from right under my nose.
“Ammonia! It’s feckin ammonia! On my face!”

Ammonia + Skin = This. Yes that's nappy rash, and it was about to be on my face.

I washed off the offending mixture sharpish and examined my face for damage. Thankfully, the only thing frazzled was my nerves. No harm done, I turned to investigating what on earth could have caused there to be ammonia on my face. “It must have been a reaction between the bicarb and the cleanser,” I thought to myself as I scanned the ingredients list. Then I found the likely reactant – ammonium chloride.

Here comes the science, b**ches

Ammonium chloride is a common ingredient in cosmetics, used to balance pH and/or as a thickening agent. Upon my reckoning it reacted with the sodium bicarbonate to form ammonia, salt, water and carbon dioxide like so…

Proper chemists please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm more of a biochemistry gal myself. Quit yer snickering.

And there you have the science of how I very nearly literally had a face like a slapped arse. Never mix your drinks, or your cleansers. Remember kids, safety first.

Anyone else have any close calls/beauty blunders you’d like to share? Please say I’m not the only one doing stupid things in the name of beauty!

Photos by courtesy of domuirgheasa.com (screenshot from Father Ted by Channel 4 television) and learnpediatrics.com.

Webmistress extrordinaire! 29 years young, Medicinal Chemistry postgrad. student, BSc (hons) Genetics, former Lush Cosmetics employee and bunny mum. Beauty interests: Cosmeceuticals, natural and cruelty free cosmetics, managing oily & imperfect skin, debunking inflated scientific claims.

  • Aundrea

    I once told someone AS A JOKE they could whiten their teeth with bleach. She used domestos on a tooth brush… Needless to say this did not end well and now I’m forced to hear this story everytime my family get together…

    • http://dollyrouge.ie Dolly Rouge

      Ohmigosh! To be fair, if she took that seriously she kind of deserved it… As long as there was no damage done at least!

  • http://miss-greeneyes.blogspot.com/ Miss Green Eyes

    Oh mother of GOD, you were so lucky that you didn’t do any damage! It’s amazing how something that seems so simple like that could have a potentially dangerous reaction.

    • http://dollyrouge.ie Dolly Rouge

      Heh I know! I got such a shock, you’d never expect that a cleanser could release a noxious chemical. Careful now! :P

  • Breige


    • http://dollyrouge.ie Dolly Rouge

      Tell me about it!

  • Apocalitpta

    You have used an image of a severely abused child. Might I suggest you remove it and use one which maybe depicts actual ammonia burn and not a poor baby that has been left in the same nappy for several weeks to highlight your brush with death hum?

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