Medically reviewed by Aimee Paik, MD
Written by Apostrophe Team
Last updated 11/2/2022
We’ve been there - a pimple suddenly appears out of nowhere and you have no acne treatments in sight. So you turn to things that might be lying around your house for a quick-fix like honey, lemon juice, or even toothpaste. But before you dab some toothpaste on your face, read below why that might be a bad idea.
The belief that toothpaste might be a good home-remedy for acne comes from the active ingredients in common toothpaste. Many toothpaste contain ingredients with antimicrobial properties like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and tricosan. However, just because it contains these ingredients, does not mean it will clear your acne. Toothpaste was created to be used on your teeth’s hard enamel, a very different surface compared to the sensitivity of your face’s skin. Toothpaste can affect your skin’s pH levels, causing irritation and over dryness. In fact, toothpaste may cause contact dermatitis (a fancy term for rash or chemical burn) on your face.
For mild acne, our Medical Director, Dr. Aimee Paik, suggests treating with OTC meds such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid helps prevent clogged pores by slowing the shedding of cells within skin follicles. Benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory treatment that works by penetrating pores and releasing oxygen compounds that kill acne-causing bacteria. Check out our full breakdown topical acne ingredients.
If a patient has more severe acne or would like rapid improvement, Dr. Paik sometimes adds an oral medication to their acne treatment plan. If acne seems to be more of a chronic condition, it is best to seek professional opinion from a dermatologist. From there, a dermatologist can help identify the root of the cause and offer a comprehensive treatment plan.
At the end of the day, toothpaste was designed to be used on your teeth, not on your face. Don’t risk further irritation for a “quick-fix”!
Have a question about other acne home-remedies? We want to hear! Tweet us @hi_apostrophe!
1. Oral Health Topics. American Dental Association Science Institute. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/toothpastes. Published June 26, 2019. Accessed August 25, 2019. 2. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/toothpaste-on-pimples#5. Accessed August 25, 2019. 3. Verywell Health. Palmer, Angela. https://www.verywellhealth.com/does-using-toothpaste-on-pimples-really-work-15530. Published July 6, 2019. Accessed August 25, 2019.
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