Why you might want to avoid this TikTok trick for acne

TikTok is all about offering advice as well as entertainment, but some of the advice isn't always the greatest. Okay, so this clothes-stretching hack seems to work pretty well, and this helpful hint on how to use garbage can liners is evidently a game-changer for people obsessed with such things. Another TikTok tip for teeth-whitening, however, has been criticized by some dentists as possibly causing damage to your teeth.

Well, now there's a new TikTok video that has over a million views and nearly 90,000 likes to date that shows a young woman using a mask made of crushed aspirin to clean her face. The video maker told viewers that such a mask, applied every few days, would clear up any potential "acne, breakouts, [or] maskne." As she added in the video's description, "I didn't have to go on Accutane again because of this trick." 

Well, as with many such TikTok videos, there's not enough information to really see what's going on here. How long has she been using this mask? What did her face look like before she started? Has she had any adverse side effects after the video was recorded? Health spoke with several dermatologists who expressed skepticism that this DIY acne treatment would actually be all that effective as well as some concern that it might do more harm than good.

Aspirin is for headaches, not breakouts

So why even think of using aspirin for your face? As Annie Gonzalez, M.D., a Miami Board Certified Dermatologist with Riverchase Dermatology, told Health, aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid, which is a synthetic derivative of salicylic acid, something used as a topical medication for acne. While salicylic acid may be derived from acetylsalicylic acid, the two are not identical, and aspirin is definitely not a substitute for the former substance. Dr. Gonzalez adds that while an aspirin mask might possibly help with skin inflammation, it can't treat or prevent the breakouts that occur when pores become clogged. As she explains, "The aspirin is not treating the acne, it is merely treating the inflammation response. It is not preventing future breakouts." She also warns that using aspirin may even "dry out the skin and lead to more breakouts."

Nazanin Saedi, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Thomas Jefferson University, is also not a fan of the aspirin mask acne treatment. She says that acetylsalicylic acid "can be irritating and lead to redness and flaking if too potent," and that an aspirin mask may make skin more sensitive. Yale Medicine dermatologist Jeffrey M. Cohen, M.D., also agrees that anyone with acne should pass on aspirin masks, but points out that "there are many excellent topical medications that are really effective for acne," including numerous ones containing the real-deal salicylic acid, which is much more effective than aspirin.