Debunking the Myth: Should You Use Toothpaste as a Face Wash?

Toothpaste has long been considered a home remedy for acne and other skin problems, but is it advisable to use it as a face wash? This article dives deep into the common reasons people consider using toothpaste on their face and the potential drawbacks and unintended consequences that may arise from such practices.

The Takeaway:

  • Toothpaste is believed to be a remedy for acne and spot treatments due to its claimed antibacterial properties.
  • Using toothpaste as a face wash can lead to skin irritation, dryness, and even worsen existing skin conditions.
  • Opt for balanced skincare products, gentle facial cleansers, and avoid using toothpaste on your face to maintain skin health.

The Allure of Toothpaste for Skincare

Here are some of the reasons people have turned to toothpaste for skincare:

Acne and Spot Treatments

Toothpaste has gained popularity as a DIY acne treatment, with many people dabbing a little toothpaste on their blemishes overnight in the hope of reducing inflammation and redness. Some believe the ingredients in toothpaste, such as baking soda, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, help to dry out pimples and accelerate the healing process. However, these claims are not backed by scientific evidence.

Antibacterial Properties

Toothpaste often contains ingredients like triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate, which are thought to have antibacterial properties that may help combat acne-causing bacteria. But, as Cleveland Clinic explains, these ingredients are designed to fight bacteria in the mouth and not on the facial skin; they can potentially cause more harm than good when applied to the face.

The Risks of Using Toothpaste as a Face Wash

man with toothpaste covering face

Inevitably, there are several risks associated with using toothpaste as a face wash or skincare product, including:

Skin Irritation and Dryness

Toothpaste is formulated for cleaning teeth and gums, not delicate facial skin. Specific ingredients, such as menthol and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), may cause irritation, burning sensation, itching, and dryness when applied to the face. These effects may be exacerbated in individuals with sensitive or already compromised skin.

Harsh Ingredients Unsuitable for Facial Skin

Toothpaste contains several abrasive ingredients that can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to excess dryness and irritation. A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that toothpaste could disrupt the skin’s natural barrier, causing skin irritation and worsening acne or other skin conditions like rosacea.

Potential to Worsen Acne or Other Skin Conditions

Using toothpaste as a face wash may initially appear to reduce redness and inflammation, but it can potentially worsen acne in the long run by disrupting the skin’s natural oil balance and promoting irritation. Furthermore, many toothpaste formulas contain fluoride, which has been reported in some cases to cause acne-like eruptions called perioral dermatitis, according to a study by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

Better Alternatives to Toothpaste for Facial Care

Here’s what you can use instead of toothpaste for facial care to maintain the health and appearance of your skin:

Gentle Facial Cleansers

Instead of using toothpaste as a face wash, opt for gentle, pH-balanced cleansers designed specifically for facial care.

Non-comedogenic cleansers, free of harsh chemicals and alcohol, can effectively cleanse your skin without causing irritation or over-drying consequences.

Acne-Fighting Ingredients

For acne or blemish treatments, look for products that contain salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide.

These ingredients have been proven to be effective in combating acne breakouts without the potential risks associated with toothpaste. Consult a board-certified dermatologist for personalized skincare recommendations and proper acne treatments.

Natural Remedies

If organic skincare is your preference, consider tea tree oil, which has shown potential as an acne-fighting ingredient due to its antibacterial properties. However, always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil and patch test before applying to your face to avoid irritation.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam loves men's grooming products. Particularly of interest is managing facial hair and perfecting the art of the modern man's skincare routine. His work has been featured or quoted in several publications, including New York Magazine, Vice, Sharpologist, MIC, Elite Daily, and more. When Adam isn't working, he enjoys spending time with his two little kids who keep him both on his toes and young at heart.

Ask a Question