Does Toothpaste Get Rid of Acne?
Is the answer to your acne problem sitting in your medicine cabinet? Toothpaste has long been the zit-zapping treatment for those looking for a quick fix to an irritating spot or blemish. You might’ve been that teenager in high school who applied toothpaste liberally to every breakout to make it disappear. It’s one of the most popular at-home acne treatments, but we’ll see whether it really works.
Why We Get Acne
Toothpaste is used as a topical treatment for a problem that starts within.
Teenagers first develop acne in response to their body’s production of androgens. Both men and women have androgens present in their body, and while this flux occurs, skin can breakout into pimples and cysts. This is because androgens help produce sebum, which is the oily substance your skin secretes to keep it moist and hydrated. Oil on your skin is actually a good thing, because it keeps your skin from drying out and cracking—no desert skin here.
Breakouts erupt on the skin when the sebum interacts with debris in the pores. Each hair follicle is attached to a pore that has a sebum-producing gland. Every human has about 5 million hair follicles—this leaves a lot of opportunities for breakouts. When the pores are open, debris can get into the pore and interact with the sebum. Dead skin cells, dirt and other debris can clog the pore and cause a small infection. This is how the blemish develops. The redness you see is a product of the inflammation caused by this small infection. If the skin swells and a whitehead appears, it’s because a thin layer of skin still contains the infection. Blackheads develop when the pore opens and the debris oxidizes.
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How Toothpaste Affects the Skin
Toothpaste contains a mixture of chemicals that can both help and hurt the skin. Chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, witch hazel, baking soda and alcohol help sanitize the skin and close pores. But be wary—these ingredients can actually dry out your skin. Toothpaste contains methanol, an ingredient that often causes irritation and inflammation, and this can make acne worse. If you use toothpaste on your acne for an extended period of time, this can lead to dry, patchy skin, more breakouts, and even light bleaching. If you want to say goodbye to your blemishes, you should check out better alternatives.
Alternatives to Toothpaste
When it comes to acne, there are much better options to choose from that won’t dry out or irritate your skin. Keep your skin healthy and blemish free by following just a few of these tips.
Get More Exercise
Simple exercise works wonders for the skin. While there’s no direct correlation between exercise and acne, physical activity can certainly help speed up the healing process.
Any cardio activity will raise your heart rate and improve blood flow to the skin. Increased circulation brings vital nutrients to the skin like protein and carries away waste. It also contributes to a fresh and more youthful glow.
Exercise also indirectly helps the skin by reducing stress. High-intensity physical exercise raises endorphin levels, which is the neurochemical responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure. You can also get a better night’s sleep because endorphins help to decrease feelings of anxiety and depression, which are two main causes for insomnia. This too will help your skin feel less tired and prone to breakouts.
When it comes to skin health, you are what you eat. Consuming too many greasy foods like pizza will make your skin overproduce oils that can lead to clogged pores. Processed foods will also put unnatural chemicals and free radicals in the body that leaves skin dull, puffy or irritated.
Combat acne by making adjustments to your diet. Avoid foods that contain any artificial ingredients or processed sugar. Instead, get creative home cooked meals that provide healthy amounts of protein, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Don’t limit your plate to just these vital nutrients—consume a healthy intake of all the vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, find alternatives to meat that provide the same health benefits like protein, iron, Vitamin C, zing and more.
If you have a healthy diet but you still have acne and inflammation, get tested for food allergies. Even mild allergies can cause breakouts or leave skin feeling too dry, oily, red or dull. Keep track of how your body feels when you eat. If you have trouble with digestion, have constipation, or experience fatigue then you might have a gluten or dairy sensitivity. A nutritionist can help tailor a diet for you that’s healthier for your body and your skin.
Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Beauty sleep is real, and it directly contributes to skin health. When you sleep, your body does its magic to repair tissue and improve overall health. At the very least, lack of sleep leaves skin dull. When your body doesn’t have the time it needs to repair itself, collagen production will slow down and make skin feel saggy, blotchy and tired. Get your seven to eight hours of sleep a night and you might’ve found the cure to your acne woes.
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Do Your Laundry
Unwashed clothing and bedsheets play a direct role in sudden breakouts. Think about it—your skin comes in contact with your clothing and your bed every day. Wash your sheets at least once a week with a gentle skin-friendly detergent without any artificial colors or fragrance added. Washing your sheets will rid them of dead skin cells, sebum, dirt and debris. Pay special attention to clothing you wear often that build dirt and debris. If you notice acne breakouts on your mid-back, for example, you may need to wash your bra.
Most importantly, wash your gym clothes. Working out is good for the skin but sweaty clothes will reverse all of your hard work. Sweat creates a breeding ground for bacteria to multiply, which can clog any open pores and lead to infection. After a workout, throw your clothes in the hamper and hop in the shower to wash off any grime.
Unfortunately, toothpaste isn’t a magic cure for unsightly breakouts. Avoid drying and irritating your skin by using one of these other remedies instead.