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We’ve all heard the myth that toothpaste kills pimples. And, when we’re confronted by an unexpected visit from the pimple fairy, most of us have desperately unleashed Colgate all over our faces in a bid to get rid of it – ASAP! But is there method to this madness, or is this tip you heard from your friend completely useless? Well kinda, here’s the reason why the toothpaste myth has existed for as long as it has, and why you should probably ditch it!

Once upon a time, toothpaste used triclosan…

Turns out, one of the reasons toothpaste was believed to be a suitable treatment for pimples and acne was due to triclosan – an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in tons of different products, like toothpaste, soap, toys, detergents, and surgical cleaning treatments. Because of this, its powerful antimicrobial properties were touted to help kill acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

The problem with triclosan is that no one really uses it anymore. It’s been widely debated that the use of triclosan might encourage an antimicrobial resistance due to its strong effects. Another concern was its possible role in disrupted hormonal development, resulting in many toothpaste providers ditching it for less controversial ingredients.

But will toothpaste work now?

It dries pimples out – sure, but less effectively than conventional treatments. Toothpaste contains a host of different ingredients including baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, menthol (and occasionally triclosan), which helps pull moisture from your pimple. However, on its own, it isn’t any better than traditional creams and lotions to treat acne or pimples – although it might be slightly less expensive.

The thing is, toothpaste can do more than just damage your spots, especially if you have sensitive skin. When you consider that toothpaste is designed for teeth – not skin – it’s easy to see why its concentrations of drying agents (like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and baking soda) have the potential to dry out zits in minutes, as well as harm the skin itself. While we’re always in a rush to get rid of a pimple before we go into public, having to deal with the aftermath – redness, skin tenderness, and peeling as a result of toothpaste use – probably isn’t worth it. If you think about it, your spot might dry up quicker but it won’t actually make your skin look better in less time, as it’ll most likely leave you with a red, dry patch instead.

The toothpaste alternatives:

Instead of taking toothpaste to your pimple, try apple cider vinegar; it has potent antibacterial properties that remove most bacterias that cause acne. Its high quantity of succinic acid has been shown to suppress inflammation caused by acne, which will help reduce the appearance of any inflamed areas. Aloe vera is also an incredible natural ingredient for treating acne, as it has high concentrations of salicylic acid and sulfur, which are both used extensively in the treatment of acne. Another easy DIY is to rub the inside of a ripe banana peel on the affected area and leave it on the blemish for ten minutes. Bananas contain vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as potassium, zinc, iron, and manganese – all amazing for blasting acne. The peels are also natural exfoliants, which remove toxins and help to calm the skin, preventing bacterial infections that may contribute to acne.

We’ve all been there and done the toothpaste trick, but now we know the truth, we might just stick to using it on our teeth. If you really want to improve any acne, check out our top 5 acne tips from our skincare expert here. Let us know in the comments if you’ll be ditching toothpaste  and tell your friends!