Myth Busters: Should You Put Toothpaste on a Pimple?December 04, 2020
My middle school self made some questionable choices in the beauty department. Not only did I think frosted pink lipstick upped my cool factor (it didn’t), but I was also under the impression that dotting my pimples with toothpaste was a smart skin-care hack. While I’ve since swapped out my toothpaste for effective acne spot treatments, some people still swear by toothpaste as a quick pimple fix. To bust this myth once and for all, I turned to Skincare.com expert and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Houshmand of Houshmand Dermatology in Dallas, Texas.
Can Toothpaste Get Rid of a Pimple?
Putting toothpaste on your pimple is not advisable in any way, shape or form, but the myth that it’s an effective blemish treatment stems from the fact that toothpaste has drying properties. “Toothpastes are filled with ingredients like alcohol, menthol, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide that can be dryingon skin , but itcould also severely irritate your skin,” says Dr. Houshmand. She explains that dotting pimples with an alcohol-based product can disrupt a healthy skin barrier and cause a slew of skin reactions, including more breakouts.
“Using toothpaste on your face can cause a reactionary increase in oil production that can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, blackheads and oily skin,” says Dr. Houshmand. You can also experience dryness, flaking and redness. “If you’ve had a negative reaction, use an oil-free moisturizer designed to help hydrate the skin and the skin barrier, which is critical for skin health.”
How to Properly Treat Breakouts
While putting toothpaste on pimples is a no-go, there are prescription and over-the-counter spot treatments available that can effectively reduce the size and inflammation of acne. “Treat your pimples with a very thin layer of a spot treatment,” says Dr. Houshmand. “For classic whiteheads, use a formula with benzoyl peroxide to kill acne-causing bacteria, and for little clogged pores or inflamed bumps, try salicylic acid, which dissolves oil and skin cells.” (Doctor’s note: If you have cystic acne, topical treatments won’t do much — a cortisone shot may be necessary. Consult your board-certified dermatologist.)
Spot Treatments to Try
For a great spot treatment you can pick up on your next drugstore run, turn to this option from La Roche-Posay. The formula, which contains benzoyl peroxide and micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy-acid (a gentle chemical exfoliant), penetrates clogged pores and clears blackheads and whiteheads in as few as three days.
Not only does this sulfur-infused spot treatment help reduce the appearance of existing acne, but it also helps prevent new pimples from forming. Plus, it absorbs quickly and clearly into the skin, so it’s a perfect treatment to use if you have a day of video calls.
Aptly named Pimple Paste, the alcohol-free formula fights blemishes, unclogs pores and exfoliates the skin. It’s quick drying, so rest assured it won’t rub off on your sheets or your protective face mask if you choose to use the product during the day.
This yellow-to-clear pimple treatment features retinol to improve skin texture and salicylic acid to fight breakouts. Just apply a dot on clean, dry skin and rub until the color turns clear.
Illustration: Isabela Humphrey