Toothpaste for Acne


The oldest trick in the books for natural home remedy acne treatments is using toothpaste for acne treatment.  Many parents are quick to dab some onto their teenager’s pimples, but is there really some merit to the old ways?

While the “toothpaste for acne” mantra may or may not work for you, it all depends on your skin type and the type of acne you suffer from. Typically, toothpaste actually works well as a dehydrator for the infected area which helps to get rid of acne.

Why Is Toothpaste for Acne Treatment Effective?

There are many ingredients that cause the burning and drying out feeling that one experiences when applying toothpaste on acne.

The mint extract and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) are specifically two active ingredients that may cause the initial tingling or burning feeling one experiences when applying the product.

Much like benzoyl peroxide dries up the unwanted blemishes, toothpaste’s active ingredients will leave a similar feeling on the applied area. Getting into the ingredients behind the “burning sensation” that makes it feel like toothpaste for acne is the best remedy.

While this formula has the drying effect many seek, it is not a solution appropriate for all types of acne. In my personal experience, it worked more on larger, ready to pop pimples instead of the smaller, redder ones (but we’ll get into my experience later).

To understand the benefits and side effects of toothpaste we need to understand its ingredients more thoroughly.

The other key ingredients of the standard toothpaste are fluorides, surfactants, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate,  and sodium carbonate peroxide.

Here is a run-down of what each ingredient does:

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as basic properties that can irritate the skin if applied directly. In the mouth, it combines with an acid to render the “bubbly” feeling, but on the skin, it can dry out the affected area.

Fluorides help with the remineralization process of teeth. It cleans the teeth without damaging the enamel.

Surfactants may irritate oral membranes but are used in the cleaning process.

Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate removes calcium and magnesium from the saliva, so they can’t deposit on teeth as insoluble deposits called tartar. Because of this, it has properties that break up elements on the molecular level and thus can cause some irritation to the skin if applied.

Sodium carbonate peroxide once used actually breaks down further into sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide specifically bleaches the teeth and kills germs. This is mostly what people hope to gain when putting the toothpaste on their acne, however, it lends more harmful and irritating results than when used for its intended purpose.

My Experience Using Toothpaste for Acne

When I was young to the acne world and learned about do it yourself (DIY) at home acne treatments I hopped on the bandwagon and vigorously applied toothpaste for my acne using these simple steps:

Every night I would go to sleep with 10 white dots of toothpaste on my face hoping I would wake up the next day and it would magically be gone.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and instead, I would often wake up with a slightly redder pimple. Even though most of my pimples ended up becoming worse, I would take the whole day to pull together the hope that tonight will be different!

But every morning rendered the same bad results.

While I personally have normal to oily skin,  I was determined to find some way to help my skin and thought using toothpaste for acne would help.

After a few weeks of trying my DIY topical acne spot treatment, I finally gave up and went to look for a store product that was more effective.

While I will admit, the toothpaste helped dry up some of the larger, “ready to pop” pimples, it had no effect on the smaller dormant subdural acne.

This is because, for those pimples that lay beneath the skin, the toothpaste has no active ingredients that will penetrate the skin to get to those hard to reach follicles. Instead, you will feel a tingling sensation that won’t do much.

To Toothpaste Or Not To Toothpaste? 

Some testify this DIY acne spot treatment works, and while it may work sparingly, it is not the best at-home remedy for chronic acne.

The ingredients listed above do their fair share to actually burn and irritate your skin, and if you have sensitive skin, the harsh chemicals will actually do more harm than good.

Some will advocate that it works well as an overnight remedy for Pustules (an inflamed pimple that resembles a whitehead, with a red ring around the bump. These are normally filled with white or yellow pus), or whiteheads. 

Since these two types of pimple are topical, meaning they appear above the skin with an obvious point of exit for the pus, many people will see most results using the toothpaste.

However, those with cysts, nodules, acne conglobate, acne mechanical, or papules will not see the same results since the problem lies beneath the skin and toothpaste doesn’t penetrate the skin

In the larger schema of things, it is better to use topical medicine that is specifically designed to treat acne. If using toothpaste, you will get a plethora of other chemicals that will do more harm and scar your face in the long run.

It’s okay to use toothpaste occasionally for larger, topical acne, but we don’t recommend it as a long term solution because of its harmful effects. If you are looking for alternative DIY acne solutions we recommend using lemon juice to help fight your acne.