Would you strap a potato to your spot? Or put bananas on your eyebags? These doctors reaction videos set the record straight
TikTok is great for lots of things: travel ideas, breakfast inspiration, foundation recommendations ... but for skincare advice? Not so much. In fact, the site is awash with some ‘hacks’ that, according to doctors, could do your skin more harm than good – or just do nothing, in some cases. Now skin professionals are increasingly taking to social media to film their own reaction videos to some of the strangely believable amateur homemade remedies you might be tempted to try.
“I’m not a huge fan of trends but it’s hard to ignore the potential virality of skincare TikTok videos,” says dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. “A lot of you are getting less than wonderful skincare advice as entertainment and there’s always the possibility that you might actually action some of it in a weak moment. There’s a lot of learning and education to be done.”
Here Dr Sam and fellow skin professionals share the TikTok skincare trends they really don’t want you to try.
The hack: bananas and turmeric to fix dark circles
TikToker Eyyitsprincess has had 2.4 million views on her video on how to get rid of dark circles around the eyes. She suggests mixing bananas, turmeric, honey and egg white into a mask to banish the pesky rings.
The dermatologist's verdict
“That looks like breakfast,” Dr Sam says. “None of those things are going to have any impact at all on the causes of dark circles (such as thin skin and blood vessels). None of those ingredients will penetrate the skin. It will just be a sticky, gloopy mess.’ She adds that turmeric can stain the skin and has an unpleasant smell, plus it won't target the cause of dark circles.
There are foods that will help you get rid of dark circles, but you'd need to eat them not smear them on your face. For trusted advice, watch aesthetic doctor Sophie Shotter, for medically-approved ways to banish them .
The hack: raw potatoes on your spots
We can't lie, we were sceptical about this from the get-go. User Queen_of_quiefs claims that taping a potato to your spots can take down blemishes, and 13.1 million people have watched the video.
The dermatologist's verdict
Yes, potatoes do contain a salicylic acid, which is used as a spot treatment in skincare because it unblocks pores, but never straight from the spud! “There is nothing in your kitchen that will help with a blemish. An ice cube wrapped in a washcloth might take down some of the swelling because the cold will reduce it and make it less sore. That's the only thing in the fridge that will make a difference," says Dr Sam.
What to do instead? Sam suggests looking for spot treatments with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, azelaic acid and niacinamide .
The hack: Crushed aspirin for acne
One TikToker shared that her trick for curing acne is crushing up aspirin into a powder, adding water until it's a thick paste and applying it to her face as a mask for 15 minutes. "You know it's ready to come off when your face starts to feel dry and powdery," she says.
The aesthetician's verdict
Aesthetician Dr Ahmed El Muntasar, who has clinics in London, Leeds and Manchester is quick to shut this down. "Absolutely not!" says Dr Ahmed. "Do not do this at home. Aspirin is good orally to help with inflammation and acne, but applying it to your skin could be quite damaging."
The hack: peel-off blackhead masks
A quick scroll on TikTok reveals a variety of attempts at blackhead removal and user ravenamelia's attempt with a peel-off mask comes under Dr Sam's scrutiny.
The derm's verdict
“[Peel off masks] really don't work when it comes to blackheads, blocked, closed or open pores,” says Dr Sam. “Instead you can clear clogged pores with salicylic acid, azelaic acid and retinoids to exfoliate dead skin cells away.
“There is nothing that can make you wipe away blackheads. You can't even vacuum the little suckers . You need a slow, steady treatment of pores over a course of months to make a difference.”
The hack: saltwater for breakouts
Is salt water is the answer to banishing breakouts? Yes, according to TikTok. User @AubryJadeArt has 1.5 million likes on her saltwater acne hack video, claiming that mixing warm water with sea salt and spraying it on the face balances skin’s pH and kills bacteria and acne.
The facialist's verdict
It’s a big no from skincare oracle and facialist Ada Ooi, founder of 001 Skin. “Saltwater could be good at minimising mild breakouts, but it could also do more harm than good," she says. "Saltwater could break down your skin hydrolipidic barrier, making it more prone to sensitivity. It can also strip your skin of its natural oils and dry it out, which can actually exacerbate acne as skin stripped of its natural oils goes on to produce even more oils and in turn spots.”
"To treat acne, look for products with a moderate concentration of zinc oxide and acids such as salicylic acid and lactic acid, as well as hydrants and proteins such as hyaluronic acid, plant oil lipids and oat and aloe vera to soothe the redness and sensitivity."
The hack: apple cider vinegar for blemishes
Apple cider vinegar has a wealth of health benefits, from balancing blood sugar to clearing your hair of product build-up. On TikTok, users are spraying it on their faces to clear breakouts.
The doctor's verdict
While there is some truth to vinegar helping with skin as an acid toner it's best used in a specially formulated product such as Skin Vinegar by Gallinee. When it comes to putting ACV in your face neat, remember it's way too strong and can burn – and @dermatology.doctor AKA Dr Aamna Adel , advises caution. “Come on! This does not work. Do not put apple cider vinegar on your face.”
The hack: Vaseline, aloe vera and milk for pigmentation
A video doing the rounds on TikTok says that a combination of petroleum jelly, aloe vera and milk will clear pigmentation. Too good to be true? Yes.
@drvanitarattan #stitch with @kamsworldoffashion35 #fyp #skincare #doctorv #diyskincare ♬ original sound - DrVanitaRattan
The doctor's verdict
Dr Vanita Rattan dispels this idea. "Vaseline is an occlusive, but it doesn't reduce pigmentation. Milk doesn't reduce pigmentation and aloe vera doesn't reduce pigmentation either. This isn't going to harm your skin, but it will make no difference to pigmentation." Instead, she says we should use tyrosinase inhibitors such as tranexamic acid and try to minimise friction.
The hack: ice to reduce oily skin
TikTok users are claiming that ice can reduce oily skin, ease acne and make your skin glow.
Cold temperatures do have many skin benefits for tightening and depuffing (hence the popularity of cryotherapy skincare tools ), and Love Island's Molly Mae even said she applies ice cubes to take down breakouts, but for oil production? Not so much. Dr Aamna Adel says ice can reduce redness in acne, but not treat it, and can not reduce oily skin or make your skin glow.