Throughout life, we have always been taught to choose the traditional ways of doing things. To use your spoon for cereal rather than gulping it straight from the bowl. Be it on how to eat, or how to shower or even brush your teeth, parents, and society have always conditioned us to go along the well-trodden paths rather than pave your own.
So it is surprising that nowadays more than ever, people are slowly opening themselves up to more unorthodox ways of solving problems, especially in the field of skin care. We have all had those moments in the morning, where we wake up to a surprise pimple that was never there before. And despite our better half telling us to go to a professional, the other side argues, “ who has the time?” and this often has us reaching for the toothpaste.
Yes, toothpaste. In recent times, toothpaste has been caught in a whirlwind of unofficial promotion as a ‘magic worker’ for making pimples disappear overnight. From your classmate to neighborhood aunty, there is bound to be at least one person you know who happens to swear by it. But you really need to question this from a more scientifically accurate point of view. Let’s take a look.
Pimples are small pus-filled pustules, which appear red and irritated on our skin. They are formed when oil-producing glands under our skin known as sebaceous glands get clogged and infected. The reasons behind this are complex and lengthy, including hormonal changes and pollution. However, the prescribed solution for pimples is often to dry out the skin and kill the bacteria-causing infections. This is where the experimentation with toothpaste began.
A basic look at the main ingredients of toothpaste shed some light as to why people first thought of this as a solution to pimples. Although the active ingredient in most toothpaste is fluoride for the prevention of dental cavities and better enamel protection, the passive preservative ingredients are more familiar with fixing pimples. These include sodium hydrogen carbonate commonly known as baking soda, menthol, alcohol, and Triclosan, which substitute salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide that exists in other over-the-counter acne medication.
When we look at it as a mere comparison between the ingredient lists of acne treatment medicine and toothpaste, there may be a moment of recognition and correlation. The “Aha!” moment when we notice that they both have certain overlapping ingredients. It does appear so that one of the primary common ingredients is Triclosan.
However, the problem with knowledge is that we can sometimes be selective about it. For instance, in this case, Triclosan is an “antibacterial ingredient” that is common to both acne medication as well as toothpaste. What people take away from this is that it can kill bacteria, regardless of what type of bacteria it may be.
Conveniently, we ignore the possibility that there this may be a crass move to make. Although true, Triclosan often has to be specifically concocted in order to attack particular kinds of bacteria. Using any haphazard product that just happens to contain Triclosan is most likely to just leave you with irritated skin. This is a major complaint that has risen against toothpaste as a pimple remedy.
Apart from Triclosan, there are other less reactive ingredients as mentioned above which turn out to have a positive effect on pimples. Baking soda and the alcohol content in toothpaste more often than not help dry the skin out.
Conversely, having skin that is dry doesn’t necessarily guarantee blemish-free skin. So what happens frequently is that people end up using toothpaste with the hope of making pimples disappear and instead end up with extremely dried out skin. This increases skin sensitivity and chances of further damage.
When weighing the pros and cons of using toothpaste as a remedy for pimples, these points need to be considered carefully. At the end of the day, it is very simple. Products are often manufactured with a target purpose. So a product designed to work on the teeth would work adversely on any surface that isn’t the teeth.
All products formulated for application on the skin are often made to be milder, so by applying a harsher substance like toothpaste on your skin for a short-term fix, you will end up harming it more in the long term. The apt solution for pimples would be to consult your local dermatologist or any forum of specialists to find out the best professional remedy for your skin.
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