From frozen cucumbers to SPF contouring, Prudence Wade asks the experts about the buzziest social media skincare tips.
With so much skincare content on social media, it’s often hard to know what’s actually going to work – and what could potentially harm your skin.
TikTok has a wealth of handy hacks for getting the clearest, glowiest skin possible – without spending lots of money on fancy products.
The question is: are they safe to do, and will they give the desired results? We asked the experts to break down some of the most viral skincare hacks on TikTok…
Hack 1: Using a frozen cucumber on your face
If you don’t fancy using leftover cucumber in your salad, beauty buffs on TikTok recommend popping it in the freezer, then rolling it on your face – particularly soothing if you have puffy or tired skin.
“Applying a frozen cucumber onto your skin comes from the idea of cryotherapy, which uses extreme cold,” explains Dr Preema Vig, medical director of Dr Preema London Clinic (drpreema.com). “The cold surface of the cucumber can work by temporarily restricting the size of blood vessels, which can reduce pore size, puffiness and redness, giving a rejuvenated appearance.”
Vig’s top piece of advice with this hack is to not leave the frozen cucumber on one section of your face for too long, “as this could cause ice burns”. She calls it a “great at-home emergency treatment, but should not replace any of your in-clinic treatments”.
Hack 2: Steeping white rice in water, then using it as a toner
Don’t want to spend money on expensive toners? Social media suggests you can save some pennies by making your own from a store cupboard staple: white rice. All you have to do is steep rice in water, then pat or spray the resulting product on your face.
Not only is it a cheap, at-home alternative for toner, but experts suggest it actually works. “Using rice water on the skin can be a natural remedy to treat some skin conditions,” says Dr Munir Somji, chief medical officer of Dr MediSpa (drmedispa.com).
“Rice water contains amino acids, antioxidants and minerals, which can inhibit the activity of elastase, an enzyme that damages the skin’s elastin. It can brighten the skin and reduce pigmentation, and also soothe any irritation and mild sunburn.”
While safe to use, Somji says: “Be careful not to apply rice water onto any open wounds, as this can incur infection.”
Hack 3: Using glycolic acid as deodorant
Glycolic acid is a staple in many of our bathroom cabinets, but is it any good as a deodorant? Cosmetic and dermatology nurse practitioner Anna Baker (annabakeraesthetics.uk) says: “The idea is that glycolic acid lowers the PH levels of the skin and exfoliates, which reduces bacteria in the skin and can reduce odour. However, glycolic acid will not reduce sweating, and when a person sweats, the water from the sweat actually neutralises the acid, meaning the benefits are completely removed.”
It’s probably best to avoid this one, particularly as Baker adds: “The armpits are very sensitive and glycolic acid can irritate the skin, which can cause redness and soreness.”
Hack 4: Using banana peel to get rid of dark under-eye circles
This is another cost-efficient hack straight out of the kitchen: applying banana peel underneath your eyes, in a bid to get rid of any bags or dark circles.
It might feel a bit silly, but this technique could actually work. “Banana peel contains a high level of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, which can help lighten the skin and reduce any dark spots,” says Somji. “Potassium and vitamins E and C can also promote brighter, glowing skin.”
Hack 5: Using petroleum jelly to get rid of blackheads
It feels like a technique your grandparents might have used: coating your nose in petroleum jelly, then steaming it off – and hopefully extracting any blackheads in the process. While petroleum jelly can have many other benefits, facial aesthetics specialist Dr Pamela Benito (drpamelabenito.com) isn’t particularly keen on using it in this way.
“I would advise against applying it to the face, as the product forms a barrier on the skin, which means it won’t let anything into the pores – but it also won’t let anything out,” she says. “So your natural skin oils, sweat and bacteria will then clog your pores and potentially cause acne. Whilst this ‘treatment’ can temporarily remove blackheads, it can also remove the sebaceous filaments that protect the skin from bacteria, which means you are more likely to develop a blackhead afterwards.”
Hack 6: Using SPF to contour your face
Yes, this really is a trend – using SPF to sculpt your face, making you tan in certain areas and paler in others. The idea is it’s a longer-lasting alternative to contouring make-up products, such as highlighter or bronzer.
However, Vig says using sunscreen in this way is dangerous, and the trend should not be followed.
She adds: “Using SPF incorrectly risks damaging your skin and getting sunburn, which can cause skin cancer. Using SPF to contour may lead to temporary tan lines, and it will also leave you with permanent skin damage. The harsh UVA and UVB rays from the sun causes premature skin ageing, hyperpigmentation, and damages the cells. Ensure you apply your sunscreen evenly all over your face and body, every day!”