We Tried The Viral Diaper Cream Hack To Heal Dry Skin. Here's What Happened

My skin is best described as sensitive combination skin. It can't seem to decide whether to be oily or dry, yet it has some spots that remain stubbornly dry regardless of hot or cold weather. This is why the diaper cream hack going viral on TikTok was intriguing. With one area just above my jawline that's so dry that I itch it often (so much so that it's turned visibly darker than the rest of my face), I was curious to see if the zinc oxide-based home remedy would help heal that patch of dry skin.

Seemingly introduced by dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss on TikTok (although there have been similar posts in 2022 too), the diaper cream hack is called "face basting." "[It's] a term I made up a few years ago as an extension to my lip basting technique. I do this at night when I'm in a very dry climate or my skin is super dry and parched, and I do it after washing my face," explained Dr. Idriss. She shared that she uses diaper cream (a commonly used skin barrier cream meant for diaper rashes on babies) all over her face at night before going to bed. She calls the main ingredient in the cream, zinc oxide, "gold" because it helps repair and heal skin while locking in hydration.

After going to bed with a visibly whiter complexion, she apparently wakes up feeling like she's got skin as soft and smooth as her baby's bottom. Did that happen for me? Not entirely, but I do think it helped heal my skin. Here's what happened.

The thick consistency of the cream is difficult to work into your skin

Firstly, I didn't want to risk breaking out into pimples by applying the thick cream all over the sensitive skin on my face. Per experts, most diaper creams contain occlusive ingredients that are great for soothing dry skin and locking in hydration, but they can be problematic for acne-prone skin because they're comedogenic (highly likely to clog your pores). 

Since I was dealing with dry skin in one area, I resorted to applying the thick white paste only on that spot, after washing my face and before bed at night, for a period of one week. The diaper cream I chose for the job was Sudocrem, a well-known Canadian brand that's been in existence since 1931. With 15.25% zinc oxide, the white cast and thick consistency of the cream was off-putting at first, especially since I usually only apply very light and watery creams on my face. It took a few days to figure out that I only needed a small amount (a tiny dab on one finger) to cover the area concerned. I had to really work the cream into the skin for it to spread evenly. The white cast never fully disappeared, which meant that some of it transferred onto my pillow every night.  

Zinc oxide has anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties, which would explain why I didn't feel the urge to scratch my dry skin on the nights I put on the diaper cream. For someone whose skin gets itchy at night, this was a welcome relief. 

The cream reduced dryness (and hyperpigmentation)

While I didn't notice "smooth as a baby's butt" softness on the first morning, mainly because the white residue was still present on my face and I had to wash it off with facewash to get a clearer look, I did start to see a marked improvement in dryness the more days I used the diaper cream. There was also less flaking of skin, and by the end of the first week, there was none at all. 

Interestingly, another unexpected side effect was the very slight reduction in hyperpigmentation. A popular ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens, zinc oxide is also known to fight hyperpigmentation. If you're looking to help soothe red, itchy, and irritated skin, this viral diaper cream hack might be for you.

As for whether it's safe for anyone looking to combat dry or itchy skin, the expert advice is that you should tread with caution. While zinc oxide is considered safe for most skin types, you could be allergic to the ingredient or other ingredients found in the diaper cream, like lanolin, mineral oil, paragons, wax, or petroleum jelly. Additionally, you might want to avoid this TikTok trick for acne, at least before running it by your dermatologist. Not only is diaper cream so occlusive that it could increase absorption of any acne ingredients you use before putting it on (leading to more irritation), but the cream could also contain other ingredients beside zinc oxide that could clog your pores.