There are so many myths, old wives tales and at-home remedies surrounded acne treatments. One of the most well-known ones is toothpaste, as it has been thought to magically dry out and erase pimples overnight. While most of those myths have been publicly debunked, some of them still manage to hang around despite the many dermatologists and beauty advisors who say otherwise. This leads to plenty of confusion and a lot of irritated skin.
One of these persistent myths is that toothpaste is an effective, safe remedy for spot-treating acne. A quick Google search will bring up dozens of websites proclaiming that toothpaste will clear your pimples. At the very least, they say, they don’t do any harm. These claims, however, don’t hold water. Toothpaste does have the ability to dry out the skin, but leaving your face as parched as a desert is not a healthy route to a clear complexion.
To begin with, most toothpaste brands contain a menthol ingredient that gives us that familiar minty sensation of clean teeth. Unfortunately, menthol is an ingredient that often irritates skin and causes itching and inflammation. In fact, try to avoid any skin product that lists menthol as an ingredient, especially if you have sensitive skin. A tingling sensation may seem to signal deep cleansing, but menthol does not help increase the effectiveness of skin care products.
You may be asking, however, if acne-specific spot treatments also irritate the skin, why is toothpaste any worse? The simple answer is that acne spot treatments include ingredients designed to combat the bacteria responsible for acne.
For example, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are both common anti-acne ingredients, and both cause some drying of the skin. But salicylic acid has been shown to promote cell turnover, meaning that skin gets exfoliated and fresh skin cells come to the surface. Benzoyl peroxide fights acne bacteria specifically and also does not cause bacterial resistance.