Quick Tips: Does Toothpaste Really Dry Out Your Acne?

Toothpaste treats acne: fact or fiction?
Toothpaste treats acne: fact or fiction?
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We've all been there: A pimple is threatening to ruin a first date, photo opportunity or important meeting.

Desperate times can call for desperate measures. Whether your best friend in high school swore by it, or you tried it last night when your acne cream ran out, chances are you've applied toothpaste to a pimple on your face at some point and hoped for the best. But is this just beauty folklore?


"Toothpaste may contain baking soda and other chemicals that can effectively dry out the occasional pimple," Dr. Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, UCSF clinical instructor.

But that doesn't necessarily mean your zit will disappear or even improve by the morning. In fact, your problems could get worse if your skin is sensitive or allergic to ingredients in the toothpaste. By drying out the skin, toothpaste can increase redness and peeling.[source: Chicago Tribune] A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology tested a variety of toothpastes and found that the majority of cases responsible for allergic reactions were flavoring, and particularly important were those relating to derivatives extracted from the main varieties of mint, such as spearmint, peppermint, menthol, and carvone—widely used in toothpastes to produce a sensation of freshness. [souce: PubMed]

While many dermatologists don't endorse the method of applying toothpaste to pimples [source: Huffington Post], it can work in a pinch. If you've got a big day tomorrow and don't have traditional acne treatments on hand, applying a dab of toothpaste that contains baking soda may help dry it out and may improve the way it looks by the time morning rolls around. Just be wary if you have sensitive skin!

If you want another natural solution, try an ice treatment if the pimple has erupted and is inflamed, says Dr. Audrey Kunin on DermaDoctor.com. [source: DermaDoctor.com].Try her tips for freezing out your skin care problems.


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  • Chicago Tribune. "Don't Blame whitening agents in toothpaste for those breakouts." (July 2, 2013) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-02-09/health/sc-health-0208-toothpaste-acne-20120208_1_toothpaste-allergic-reactions-gallo
  • The Huffington Post. "Toothpaste to Dry Out Pimples? Top Derms Clear Up This Home Remedy" July 10, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/toothpaste-pimples-acne-dry-out_n_1994320.html
  • Zirwas, Matthew J. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. "Toothpaste Allergy Diagnosis and Management" July 12, 2013.
  • Badreshia-Bansal, Sonia. Personal correspondence. July 10, 2013.