If you happen to have scrolled through TikTok lately, you might have been confused why a new trend that involves minimal dancing but a lot of face gazing has been doing the rounds. As one TikToker believes, saltwater is now the key to your skin woes. Last month, @leacrylics started a routine that didn’t just solve her acne, but reduced redness and saw her pimples vanish from her complexion. The cure? Simply sea salt mixed with some water that she then sprayed on her face. Yep, you’re pretty much just dunking your head into the ocean.
As the TikTok star shared with her followers, “I’ve been struggling [with acne] since I was 11. I noticed every single time I swim at the beach and go into the ocean and my skin clears completely, so I bought sea salt off Amazon.”
She added, “I mix a teaspoon of sea salt with half a cup of warm water, make the exact same ratio as the ocean, then I just spray it on my face every night…I’m about to start my period and you can see, no breakouts.”
Other TikTok stars have been quick to adopt the trend and their reviews are equally glowing. But when you have something as simple as seawater being proclaimed as the next acne cure-all, it does raise some eyebrows. After all, wouldn’t skincare companies just be selling us salt in a bottle if it was all that effective?
Consider us skeptics, but when something seems too good to be true, it normally is. to weigh in on the science behind the hack, we enlisted the services of dermatologist Dr Jo-Ann See, of Central Sydney Dermatology, to find out if salt water really can cure acne. Here’s what she had to say.
Is it legit?
Anecdotal benefit – I am a dermatologist, I understand the science! Seawater, which contains salt and other minerals, can be helpful, but is not a cure for everyone.
Why doesn’t it work?
Ocean water contains high levels of salt, which has a drying and exfoliating effect on the skin. Depending on where the water is from it will contain different amounts of salt and other minerals so there is no consistency unlike a product that is made in the laboratory!
After swimming, you often notice that your skin is drier and less oily. There is some thought that not only seawater but also spa water contains different minerals which may alter the microbiome of the skin in a more acne-friendly way. This is the thought bubble as to why different spa water can be helpful in inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis and eczema.
If your acne is moderate to severe of if you have deeper lesions, the saltwater may not help at all as the acne activity is deeper than the top layer of the skin. Don’t forget when you’re at the beach there is often an element of sunlight and certain wavelengths of light decreases acne bacteria. The other factor is sometimes we are on holidays or relaxing, so our stress levels are less.
What are the benefits or risks associated with salt water?
The benefit is that it is an inexpensive “treatment” but there are no scientific trials so it’s merely anecdotal. You could give it a try but don’t expect miracles. If it was such a great discovery, there wouldn’t be the need for any acne treatments!
If the water is clean (don’t go collecting saltwater after it has rained or if the bacterial count is high) it may be something that you want to give a try but don’t expect a miracle. Everyone is different and so is their acne. Some patients have more difficult acne to control especially if it has been long-standing, familial or they have larger deeper lesions.
The risks are: failure to meet one’s expectations and that this is a cure for everyone!
What are some better natural solutions?
Research is looking into green tea extracts for anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action. Glycolic and lactic acid derived from sugarcane and milk are excellent peeling agents. Some people use tea tree as a post treatment, whereas some patients are allergic to it.
As for other acne products to consider, La Roche Posay’s anti-acne range has been specifically developed with dermatologists to combat acne and other skin problems. The new Effaclar Serum which contains glycolic acid is particularly helpful for acne.
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