The ESK blog
The Acne TikTok hacks you should scroll past!
24 August 2022
TikTok is such a great democratising platform. But it throws up some gargantuan BS, especially when it comes to skincare for acne.
Hey, I get it; Seeing a dermatologist is expensive and sometimes for prescription medications, it can feel like the cure is worse than the disease with some of the more intense treatments causing a lot of side effects.
So when I saw a TikTokker called Steph reveal that she was able to cure a face full of acne scars in a single application of sea moss, I was bewildered.
This was so obviously bogus- it’s simply not possible to rectify acne scarring overnight, let alone with a non-evidence based topical application.
But last I looked, Steph of sea moss miracle fame had 250K likes and over 2000 shares for her video. Who are her followers?
Clearly doctors need to be doing a better job of explaining the nature of skin conditions like acne and the science of fixing them!
So, does sea moss work?
There is no evidence it does at all.
It apparently contains sulphur, which has antibacterial properties and vitamin A which is a blockbuster for acne and skin ageing when used at evidence-based concentrations. Which aren’t in sea moss.
It’s main active ingredient, carrageenan is used for curing leather and as an emulsifier in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and shoe polishes. So, it’s not useless.
And apparently mix Irish sea moss with sugar and some warm milk and you have yourself quite the delicious drink.
Not my bag but if you have a recipe you’d care to share, I am open to being convinced. Feeling despondent, I kept scrolling.
Toothpaste & honey for acne? Don't think so
One TikTokker called Teema suggested I grab some Colgate toothpaste and mix equal parts toothpaste (pH 10) and a supermarket honey (pH 4) and mix it into a paste and use it as a face mask.
Really? Um - not on your life!
Toothpaste with its very alkaline pH and lots of irritating solvents can do far more harm than good.
Pro-inflammatory and disrupting the microbiome, it’s a hard no for the skin (but amazing on your teeth! How about that?!)
Honey has a better pH for the skin.
And there is evidence that some forms of honey do indeed have antibacterial properties, that’s not the diluted sugar infused fake honey you get in a supermarket.
Even raw honey can’t combat C. acnes, the specific bacteria that causes acne.
Plus, it is so sticky that removing it often requires some traumatising scrubbing with hot water and soap - again no-nos for acne!
DIY mask with baking soda?
I could go on all day, but I did a double take when someone called Eliyah suggested that acne can be helped by a DIY mask of jojoba oil, tea tree oil (maybe and probably yes) with water and baking soda (NOOOOOOO!)
Let's talk sugar scrubs
High pH is only the start of my concerns with another TikTokker called Sahil, who touts a sugar scrub for his acne.
Sure, at a level of 7, the pH of sugar is too high. But a scrub! Woah! The reason doctors recommend strongly against using scrubs is that they are pro-inflammatory and likely to make acne worse!
At this point I stopped scrolling. If you have acne, stick to skincare with gentle, evidence-based ingredients. If they don’t work, see your doctor.
If you want an evidence-based face mask, try our Salicylic Acid overnight mask: