Are these 7 TikTok skincare trends really good for your skin? We ask a dermatologist
Do viral skincare tips live up to the hype? A dermatologist gives CNA Lifestyle the low-down on whether they actually work.
Trust social media to make a trend out of anything – especially unusual beauty hacks and tips, which often are the most popularly followed and copied subjects on platforms including Instagram, TikTok and Reddit.
It’s harmless, surely, to try some of these beauty tricks, since many of them only require simple household or food items, and everyone seems to be raving about their magical effects. Right?
Not exactly, if you are savvy about taking care of your skin. Consider the fact that not everyone has the same skin type, which means one thing that works for someone else may not be suitable for you. Many also mistakenly believe that any trend that involves natural ingredients is sure to be safe – food ingredients may be safe to eat, but aren’t always risk-free for the skin.
Here are a number of skincare trends that have been all the rage lately, but may not be good advice to take. CNA Lifestyle got dermatologist Dr Eileen Tan, of Eileen Tan Skin Clinic & Associates, to tell us if they should be taken with a pinch of salt – figuratively speaking, that is.
DIY FACE MASKS
Whipping up DIY skincare products like masks, toner, scrubs and moisturisers has gotten popular since the pandemic started and people began spending more time at home. Since most of these formulas involve items from the kitchen, such fruits, vegetables, eggs, yoghurt, honey and coconut oil, many assume they are safe to use on the skin.
Often, essential oils are part of them too – since these are all botanicals and natural, they should be good for skin, right? Not really, because certain essential oils can trigger allergies in some people. They should be used with care since they are also highly concentrated plant extracts.
As for the edibles mentioned above, Dr Tan said that, in general, most should be well tolerated on skin.
“However, the efficacy of DIY skincare products is difficult to assess and the results they give are probably inconsistent. Also, coconut oil may have moisturising properties but may not be suitable for everybody. In individuals with oily skin, it can cause clogging and result in acne,” she shared.
She also pointed out that certain food items, like apple cider or the juice of citrus fruits, have an acidic nature and can lead to skin irritation or, worse still, superficial burns.
BAKING SODA MASK
Baking soda is one of those wonder household items that have been touted to have a million uses – from cleaning tiles to whitening the teeth and, of course, baking. But what about applying it as a mask on the face to help exfoliate skin, reveal a glow or even remove blackheads, uses that have been popularised on social media lately?
According to Dr Tan, it is true that baking soda has skin exfoliating properties, which explains why it can help slough away dead skin cells and get rid of blackheads. However, this doesn’t mean that the baking ingredient can be used regularly on the face or in large quantities.
“Disruption of your skin’s natural pH balance will occur with repeated use of a baking soda face mask. This can lead to undesirable consequences such as skin irritation, peeling and redness,” she explained.
If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, don’t even think about trying it – a flare-up is almost certain.
Rubbing your face with ice every day is said, on platforms like TikTok and Reddit, to do the following – shrink pores, reduce the appearance of acne, oiliness and puffiness, and diminish signs of ageing like wrinkles and fine lines.
This is one viral beauty trend that sounds pretty safe and doable – after all, many women, including famous celebrity beauties like Bella Hadid, are known to splash their skin with very cold water after washing their face, in order to help the pores tighten and appear smaller.
Dr Tan agreed that icing the face may reduce swelling, redness and probably provide some pain relief on a temporary basis for inflamed acne or acne cysts, since it constricts blood vessels. However, she warned against having too much belief in the purported benefits.
Face icing won’t clear an acne problem, even if it may bring some relief, and definitely won’t help diminish fines lines or wrinkles. On top of that, if you have sensitive skin, exposing it to extreme coldness may also cause irritation or reddening.
So named because it leaves one’s face as slimy as a slug’s trail of mucus, this K-beauty trend requires one to apply petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) all over the face as the last step of the skincare routine at night, in order to seal in the benefits of prior skincare products applied and prevent moisture loss.
There’s actually some logic behind the trend of slugging, said Dr Tan, since petroleum jelly is an occlusive moisturiser (moisturising agent that forms a protective seal on the skin) and is generally safe to use on skin.
If you didn’t know, petroleum jelly is a widely used ingredient in and component of many skincare products. Vaseline, though, is 100 per cent petroleum jelly, which means it really should be used sparingly, instead of in quantities that will make your face feel and look slimy.
If you really want to try out this trend, use only a tiny pea-sized amount of Vaseline, rather than slather it on like butter on bread.
Dr Tan also pointed out that slugging is not advisable for certain skin types, namely those with oily or acne-prone skin, as it can lead to a breakout or aggravate existing acne.
Microneedling isn’t exactly new – this cosmetic procedure involves pricking the skin with a device covered with micro needles, creating microscopic wounds that activate collagen and elastin production in order to help the skin heal.
But while it used to be something you can only have done by a dermatologist or aesthetician, it now can be administered yourself, with the proliferation of home-use microneedling devices on the market. DIY microneedling is more affordable and convenient, certainly, as compared to having to go to a professional to have it done regularly. But how safe or hygienic is it to do it at home, especially since the procedure creates actual wounds on the skin?
“It can bear considerable risks, such as skin infection due to improper handling or maintenance of the microneedling device. Patchy skin irritation and injury due to inconsistent and incorrect depth of needle penetration into the skin can occur. I do not advise doing it yourself, especially on the face, as it is a more sensitive zone. I have seen scarring and acute dermatitis that develop as a result of improper DIY microneedling,” Dr Tan said.
MAKING YOUR OWN SUNSCREEN
With so many sunscreen choices easily available at different price points in stores, it’s rather unusual that people would want to attempt making their own sunscreen. But it seems that those who have done so are mostly concerned about the chemicals that store-bought sunscreens contain, and think that making their own is a safer and healthier alternative.
There are various formulas going around on social media and the Internet, with most comprising coconut oil and powdered zinc oxide. The question is – do these work at all?
While Dr Tan cannot comment on whether they actually do provide sun protection, she stressed that DIY sunscreen formulations are not stable even if they do offer some level of photo-protection. In other words, they are not viable for use and may bring about inadvertent sun exposure, when one goes out in the sun after putting on homemade sunscreen, thinking it is working perfectly.
USING GLYCOLIC-ACID TONER AS DEODORANT
As far as bizarre beauty trends go, this one is a first – who would have thought of applying glycolic acid toner to their armpits as a deodorant? Apparently, it originated from the desire to find natural deodorant alternatives to store-bought ones that contain aluminium.
Dr Tan affirmed that glycolic acid will not reduce sweating, hence it is not considered an antiperspirant. However, she also pointed out that glycolic acid (at a low percentage concentration) may help to reduce body odour by way of its skin-exfoliating effects. It achieves this by also lowering the skin’s pH, which in turn will hamper the survival of odour-causing bacteria.
Take caution though, if you want to try this out, because glycolic acid can cause skin irritation if used too frequently and at a high concentration. This also means that it isn’t advisable for those with sensitive skin. Do not try it especially if you’ve just had laser hair removal or shaved your armpits, as it’s sure to sting or irritate the skin.