Dermatologist warns against skin-care 'misinformation' on TikTok – New York Post

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TikTok is tantalizing users with the promise of flawless skin — on the cheap.
But how reliable is skin-care Tok? The app is rife with both experts and DIYers showcasing techniques and products they swear by. But dermatologists are urging users to be careful as some remedies are actually more likely to make your skin problems worse.
Hadley King, MD, who is a board-certified dermatologist in New York specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology, told The Post that figuring out which “hacks” to try requires a healthy dose of skepticism.
“There are lots of board-certified dermatologists providing great educational posts on TikTok, so there’s plenty of good information out there —but there’s misinformation too,” King said.
So before reaching for some weird household product and rubbing it all over your face, King warned: “Remember to consider the source and their qualifications, and look for expert advice from qualified professionals!”
TikTokers have been touting the benefits of taking ocean water home from the beach and using it as a cleanser. King said a swim in the ocean is fine, but it’s best to leave the sea water where it belongs — so don’t bottle it.
“Although salt water may be helpful in drying up skin oils and reducing bacteria on the skin, there are certain parts of the ocean where there are lots of bacteria present, either naturally or because of human activity,” King said, adding that casually bottling some up means the water is not sterile.
“Therefore, if the acne lesions are severe or open, or if your immune system is compromised in any way, or if you are in areas where there are likely to be increased bacteria in the ocean water, then extra caution should be taken.”
TikTokers were swept away by this supposed miracle treatment in 2021, and it’s making a comeback in 2022. In the clips, users are seen crushing up aspirin, mixing it with water to form a paste and then applying it to blemishes.
King said this one is probably too much of a headache.
“Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and may have some anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically,” she said. However, she added that the chemicals in aspirin break down into acetic acid and salicylic acid. While the latter can be helpful for clogged pores and acne, acetic acid can actually increase irritation.
“We have better over-the-counter and prescription options,” she said. “Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are available as spot treatments without a prescription, and they have been well studied and shown to be effective for acne.”
A TikToker shared a way to get some sun-kissed skin, claiming she got a “beaut tan” by spraying a mix of moisturizer and water on her legs before sunbathing.
Not everyone was impressed. Some solar-conscious users expressed concern over the lack of sunscreen in the DIY spray-bottle concoction — the TikToker later clarified that she was wearing SPF 30 — while others couldn’t wait to try it.
King agreed that sunscreen is crucial, suggesting that people who plan to be outdoors should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and reapply at least every two hours and after sweating.
However, she also warned, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan — a tan is a defense mechanism that kicks in when your DNA is getting damaged.”
Who doesn’t want to banish those dark under-eye circles? TikTok is filled with DIY recipes for quick bag-banishing treatments — including one involving a simple kitchen spice.
A turmeric eye mask is doing the rounds. It’s a simple concoction of honey and turmeric, promising “brighter and plumper under eyes” from TikTokers who use the mask.
King gives it the green light — with a caveat.
“Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, but using it topically can be problematic because of its strong yellow hue, which can stain the skin,” she said.
King suggests a simple addition. “Mixing it with buttermilk helps to dilute the color, and also buttermilk contains lactic acid, which can gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin.” She recommends a mixture of one part buttermilk to one part turmeric to minimize staining.
It’s a trick as old as time — who hasn’t been told to rub some toothpaste on a pesky pimple?
While in the past it was a friend in the schoolyard sharing their tricks, TikTokers are also swearing by the inexpensive stuff — but you may want to save it for your pearly whites rather than your skin.
“Toothpaste ingredients like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and sodium laureth sulfate can all be drying and irritating to the skin,” King said.
“These formulations are meant to clean the tough surfaces of our teeth, not to be left on relatively delicate facial skin. Irritant contact dermatitis can be the result.”
“JelloSkin” routine is a term coined by TikTok influencer Ava Lee, who promotes taking care of your skin with a very simple tool — your fingers. In a pleasant twist, it doesn’t actually involve Jell-O.
” ‘Jello skin’ is a fun way to describe skin that is firm and bouncy — qualities that come from healthy skin with good levels of collagen and elastin,” King said.
In her videos, Lee says to massage your skin in various different directions, starting with some serum, then using four fingers to sweep from the nose out towards the ears. She continues by patting gently under her eyes and using the flat sides of her hands to press out from her nasal-labial folds to her cheek bones.
Lee claims this routine helps with lymphatic drainage and promotes glowing skin.
King said it couldn’t hurt, but there are many other factors that make skin look healthy.
“Age and genetics play important roles here, as do sun protection, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising, sleeping, minimizing stress and using topicals like retinoids,” she said.


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