It's not hard to work out why #LifeHacks are so popular. We're busy, smart, savvy people, and so if there's even an infinitesimal chance that we can cut down on the more unpleasant, bothersome parts of life, we'll take it.
The only problem with this is that, well, a lot of the 'hacks' you see aren't just flat-out wrong, but could wind up costing you more than you ever would've saved ...
Wearing All Your Clothes to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees
Going on vacation is expensive. So it's in travelers' best interests to cut costs wherever they can. Whether that's taking an indirect flight on a budget airline, leaving the kids at home, or not downing 17 beers in the hotel bar every night ... or as one hack suggests, avoiding paying extra baggage fees by simply wearing all your extra clothes through the airport.
Um, yes, actually -- and those are the good outcomes.
It isn't unheard of for airport staff to ask people they catch doing this to kindly, politely remove all those layers -- and if they refuse, refuse them boarding. If that sounds a little harsh, you might be right. At the same time, it's not only massively inconvenient for the passengers who have to sit next to your cheapskate ass, but it also makes security screening more painful, inconvenient, and slower than it already is. If your #LifeHack winds up pissing off everyone in your vicinity, bad news, you're not a savvy consumer, you're an asshole.
If you're sociopathic to still think that this hack is worth the metaphorical pain, it's also worth considering that it comes with some literal pain too. If you do this, you're not just going to be wearing a few extra t-shirts. You're going to be wearing several pounds of clothes (including jackets and pants), which combined not just with your body heat, but the heat of the plane, airport, and your fellow passengers, puts you at serious risk of suffering heat exhaustion. That's what happened to this singer, who, in his infinite wisdom, decided to wear 12 layers of clothing to avoid paying for extra baggage. He wound up falling so ill he collapsed, was administered oxygen, and was described by paramedics as, "Lucky to be alive."
Making Your Own Sunscreen
Unless you want to become a sun-dried skin-cancered tomato, it's in your best interest to use sunscreen. The only problem with that is you know how they say that printer ink is worth more per liter than oil (and human blood)? Sunscreen is like that. It's expensive, and unless you lock it away tight, you have to rebuy it every summer.
Fortunately, the geniuses on Pinterest have a solution to this conundrum: just make your own using what mother nature gave 'ya. There are countless recipes for sunscreen on the site, many of which contain natural ingredients scientifically proven to offer protection from the sun's piercing light, including coconut oil, raspberry essential oil, and zinc and titanium oxides.
Unfortunately, it's utter garbage. When researchers surveyed a wide sample of these recipes on Pinterest, they found that almost 70 percent offered next-to-no protection from the sun -- meaning that they haven't invented sunscreen, so much as fancy, expensive basting juice. This is even though many recipes made specific claims about the level of protection offered by their sunscreen, with the majority saying theirs is rated to SPF 30 -- despite zero testing.
"But, wait, didn't you say these recipes contain ingredients that offer protection against the sun?" Yeah, but in a majority of the recipes, the level of these ingredients in each recipe was so low as to be practically useless. Not to mention, some ingredients -- such as zinc oxide -- are such a challenge to work with, that incorporating them to a reasonable degree is going to be hard for anyone that doesn't have access to expensive manufacturing equipment. So, basically, everyone who attempts these recipes.
Putting Toothpaste on Acne
It's an unavoidable fact of life that your beautiful face will catch a bad case of acne in your teenage years (or even your adult years). When this happens, there's not really much you can do other than exfoliating, maybe tweak your diet, and wait it out.
Or is there? Some swear there's a secret cure for spots that your doctors don't want you to know about and will HATE you for trying ... for some reason. It's not complicated and doesn't require you to have an advanced degree in chemistry, and in fact, you've probably already got it in your bathroom cabinet. It's called "toothpaste," and what you do, basically, is just apply a single drop to your spots. The antibacterial ingredient of toothpaste, triclosan, will cause them to dry up faster and vanish quicker than your teeth if you say that you don't have toothpaste in your cabinet.
Except, not really. While it's true that triclosan is an antibacterial, it's since been removed as an ingredient from pretty much all brands of toothpaste. Also, while toothpaste indeed does dry spots out, that's less to do with its pseudo-magical properties than, when applied to your face, toothpaste will burn your skin thanks to the ingredients it does contain -- which include baking soda, alcohol, menthol, and (in some cases) hydrogen peroxide.
At best, you'll get rid of your spots. At worst, you'll damage the acid mantle of your face and allow those irritants to soak into your skin and make you red, puffy, and wishing that you only had pimples to contend with.
Idling Your Car on Cold Mornings
We've all been there. You wake up one morning and look outside to find that the world is covered with so much snow and ice, you start looking for any approaching White Walkers. So you get dressed and a few minutes before setting off, head outside to start up your car, and leave it to warm up and prepare for the long voyage ahead.
The idea behind this hack is that on cold mornings, you should idle your car for a few minutes so that by the time you drive off, the engine is warmed up and isn't liable to stall when you're halfway down the street. You don't need to, though. While idling on cold mornings is something that people who own carbureted engines have to do, the last car with a carburetor was released in 1990. That means unless you've traveled back to 1984 to find Sarah Connor, it's not for you.
If you like calling out mechanics, though, definitely carry on idling your car. You see, when you leave your car to idle, it takes waaay longer to warm up (because it's not actively driving), and so your car will wind up pumping a massive amount of gas into the engine.
"So what, my fuel bills will be higher, big deal?" Well, not quite, Moneybags. If your engine starts overflowing with gas, that'll break your car -- and even if it doesn't overflow, there's potential for gas to strip the oil off of the engine's cylinders and pistons. That not only reduces their lifetime but could cause them to seize up at a moment's notice because, duh, they have no oil.
Okay, what's the solution? Drive to work in a cold car? Um, yeah, actually. The best way to warm your car up is to drive it, duh, because you're putting (good) stress on the engine that idling wouldn't. The caveat is that it'll take 5-15 minutes to warm up properly, so pack some hot cocoa.
Doing Literally Anything from Those "30 Second Hack" Videos You See Everywhere
If you've used Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at any point, you've seen those thirty second-long videos wherein a set of disembodied hands show you how to do amazing, unbelievable things with food and random objects, with little-to-no effort.
You know the old adage, however, about things that seem too good to be true? That's these videos to a tee because 99 times out of 100, they're crap.
As an explosion in the number of these videos has occurred, an identical-sized explosion of people who now spend their lives debunking these channels for showing physically impossible processes, flat-out lies, and/or dangerous to life and limb is also happening. One of which includes a #LifeHack that advised people who need a grilled cheese STAT (as we sometimes do) to turn their toaster on its side, which can cause a toaster to catch fire. Another hack told people that it was a good idea to pour boiling caramel over an electric whisk, which how Two Face's origin would go if he'd been a chef, not a lawyer.
These videos aren't just wrong in a subtle way, where it's the viewer's fault for not nailing a process that these creators sent thousands of hours setting up. They're wrong in a very, very obvious way. When The Wall Street Journal investigated these videos and pointed to a dangerous hack that told people that microwaving a pencil creates diamonds, the video's creators responded with a link to the source they used to guide the video. It went to an April Fool's gag ripped from a lowbrow comedy website. (It wasn't us, honest.)
The fact of the matter is, these videos aren't designed to be educational. They're designed to look educational to draw eyeballs along with massive amounts of ad revenue. There's a good reason we started this chapter by saying that you probably know what videos we're talking about already. That's because, according to BBC's Chris Fox, they've racked up billions of views across Facebook and YouTube. Further proof that the best hack by far, and will improve your life the most, is taking your router and smashing it into a thousand pieces.
Top Image: Vchal/Shutterstock