TikTok made me do it: fighting dermatology fads
Dr. Google, the term coined for patients who use search engines to research medical symptoms and treatments, has added a partner: Dr Social Media. According to data from a recent survey, 1 in 10 patients look to social media for health information and use social media to evaluate new treatment options.1
“Skinfluencers” are taking advantage of this newfound popularity to build their audiences, and with it, their potential to earn advertising revenue. One of the fastest growing social media platforms for dermatology-related videos is TikTok, where many account holders post daily content. While some of the information is accurate, videos offering dermatology advice often run a path ranging from ineffectual to downright harmful.
The following are 4 popular skin care fads your patients might be hearing about on TikTok.
The Slugging Method
With over 35 million views, the slugging method is one skin care trend that has quickly gone viral. It involves coating the skin in a thick layer of petroleum jelly and letting it sit overnight with the goal of preventing moisture from leaving the skin.2 While this trick may help seal in moisture, it may also lead to blocked and clogged pores in people who are prone to acne.3
Lemon Juice Facial (#lemonfacemask)
The lemon juice facial has been promoted by celebrities and TikTok users as a way to reduce acne scarring. In the viral videos, users claim that soaking facemasks in lemon juice and applying them to the face reduces acne scarring and improves skin, creating a glowing appearance.4 But the acidic nature of citrus juice may do more harm than good to the skin, especially when users go out in the sun.5
Toothpaste on Pimples
Another popular “tip” that is shared frequently on TikTok is using toothpaste to dry out pimples, with users claiming it treats existing breakouts. There are hundreds of videos of users applying a toothpaste-based “DIY pimple patch” to their pimples and filming the results, leading to over a billion views on this topic.6 But toothpaste no longer contains triclosan, an antimicrobial, and may be irritating or too drying for some people.7
The “Potato Trick”
This trend took hold in October 2020, when a single video showed a woman applying a piece of potato to her forehead to help with a painful cystic pimple. Within 4 hours later, she claimed throbbing had disappeared and swelling was reduced. The logic behind this trend is that the salicylic acid present in potatoes helps clear up your skin.8
To help your patients cut through the noise on social media and separate good advice from bad, it’s important to be familiar with the latest trends making the rounds on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. We’ll try our best to keep you up to date!
1. Gordon D. Forbes. 1 In 10 Americans turn to social media for health information, new survey shows. Published October 6, 2021. Accessed January 20, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/debgordon/2021/10/06/1-in-10-americans-turn-to-social-media-for-health-information-new-survey-shows/?sh=1fdb88bb3d93
2. TikTok. #sluggingmethod. Accessed January 14, 2022. https://www.tiktok.com/discover/slugging-method?lang=en
3. American Academy of Dermatology. 5 ways to use petroleum jelly for skin care. Accessed March 7, 2022. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/routine/petroleum-jelly
4. TikTok. #lemonfacmask. Accessed January 20, 2022. https://www.tiktok.com/tag/lemonfacemask?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1
5. Quaak MS, Martens H, Hassing RJ, van Beek-Nieuwland Y, van Genderen PJ. The sunny side of lime. J Travel Med. 2012;19(5):327-328. doi:10.1111/j.1708-8305.2012.00644.x
6. TikTok. Toothpaste on pimples. Accessed January 20, 2022. https://www.tiktok.com/discover/toothpaste-on-pimples
7. Consumer Reports. Are any toothpaste ingredients dangerous to your health? Published May 2, 2019. Accessed March 7, 2022. https://www.consumerreports.org/dental-oral-care/are-any-toothpaste-ingredients-dangerous-to-your-health/
8. Mather K. Yahoo! Life. TikTok potato hack might be the answer to those deep, awful pimples: ‘I have tried everything.’ Published October 12, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2022. https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/tiktok-potato-hack-might-answer-190441954.html