Most of the time, this “thing” is a beauty or wellness trick that has gone viral on the video-sharing platform, with no proof that it actually works. The advice can be ineffective or downright dangerous, from consuming chlorophyll to induce weight loss to using sunscreen only in certain areas to “naturally” shape your face.
“We talk about TikTok all the time in my office,” said Dr. Dendy Engelman, dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in New York City, “and I think it could be worse than other platforms because people are really looking to create content with that wow factor, the thing that will go viral, even if it isn’t science-based.
It is not surprising that the app that brought us the “Benadryl challenge” (taking large doses of antihistamine to induce hallucinations) and “the Everclear test” (giving injections of high alcohol alcohol content) ) is not a physician-approved source of beauty. advice. But many consumers reject reason and caution in the face of these trends, pointing to a growing subversion of authority in which the word of an influencer takes the place of that of experts.
“It’s funny because patients are often so shy in our office about trying treatments,” Engelman said. “But when they see something done on Instagram by an 18-year-old influencer, they’re like ‘Sure!’
What not to try at home
Compiling an exhaustive list of TikTok’s bad beauty tips is next to impossible as the platform’s content seems to multiply in pace with our increasingly short attention span and insatiable thirst for novelty. But a few trends that have dominated the platform in recent times are particularly mind-boggling for physicians.
Take “slugging,” a TikTok trend that advises people to sleep with a thick layer of petroleum jelly on their face to aid in hydration. Videos with the hashtag have 14.4 million views on the platform, and the trend has been promoted by influencers like Hyram Yarbro and Cait Keirnan. But dermatologists warn that it can have harmful effects on your skin.
“Putting an occlusive on your skin and letting it sit overnight prepares you to exacerbate clogged pores and rashes,” Engelman said.
Then there’s the “sunscreen contouring,” which Dr. Neera Nathan, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, heard about, to her horror, from one of her patients.
Some influencers have advised people who are tired of shaping their face with makeup to use heavy sunscreen with a high SPF, applying it only to the areas they want to highlight, such as the top of the cheekbones and skin. bridge of the nose. The rest of the face is left to tan (and burn), without sunscreen.
This is a tip that goes against the recommendation of the American Academy of Dermatology that everyone should wear a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 on any exposed skin. “We know it’s crucial to do this at a young age from a skin cancer and anti-aging perspective, so the idea that these videos suggest otherwise to a very young audience is troubling. “Nathan said.
In April, drinking chlorophyll, which has had moments on other social media platforms, sparked a great deal of interest in TikTok, driven by backers from influencers like Amelie Zilber, according to Traackr, a marketing platform at affecting. It has been called a “miracle product” that can boost energy levels, induce weight loss and brighten skin, but doctors say these claims are not supported by research.
Drinking chlorophyll is one of the more harmless recommendations on TikTok, but it’s probably a waste of money. (Sakara Life’s Detox Water Drops with Chlorophyll cost $ 39, and Raw Chlorophyll Drops on Amazon cost around $ 20, on average.) Their skin is improving and their visits to the bathroom are more regular, ” said Sonpal, the gastroenterologist.
What trend do doctors really want to leave to professionals? Microneedling, which involves piercing the skin with tiny needles in order to generate new collagen. On TikTok, the conversation around microneedling at home increased in 2020 and is already experiencing five times the engagement in 2021, according to Traackr, but experts say it’s incredibly risky to do it at home.
While some studies have shown that medical grade microneedling can improve skin flexibility and reduce wrinkles, “it should be done in a really clean and safe environment,” Engelman said, noting the high risk of infection. “If you apply hard enough to your skin, it can lead to a change in color, a change in texture, and scarring, essentially worsening what you’re trying to make more beautiful, like fine lines and acne scars.”
Australian “Big Brother” reality TV star Tilly Whitfeld has learned firsthand how dangerous beauty trends can be. After spending her time on the 24 Hour Watch Show wearing clay masks or heavy makeup, she was quizzed by viewers about what she was hiding and vaguely confessed on Instagram in May that a beauty trend TikTok had damaged his skin.
Whitfeld, 21, said by phone from Sydney that she hadn’t told anyone exactly what it was because she ‘knew’ she would look like a fool.
She was browsing TikTok last August when she came across a video teaching people how to freckle themselves using sewing needles and ink that disappeared in six months. As the video did not clarify what type of ink to get, she ordered brown tattoo ink that she found on eBay, which she later discovered as a counterfeit product with a high lead content, and ordered started to prick his face with a pattern of freckles.
“It didn’t hurt me at all, so I didn’t think I had to stop,” said Whitfeld, who has reviewed the ratings several times, as advised by the video’s creator.
There were no fake freckles and her face swelled from an infection causing her to briefly lose sight in one eye, she said, and she now has scars. on the cheeks and nose. With nearly $ 12,000 already spent on doctor visits, Whitfeld has yet to find a way to correct the damage. Laser removal is apparently not an option because, doctors told her, the ink she used will turn black rather than fade.
“The main response was that I am stupid and, yes, I agree,” she said.
For doctors, it’s a terrifying scenario. “You have a lot of people claiming to be experts who have no real consequences for giving really bad advice,” Sonpal said.
Stories like Whitfeld’s have doctors hoping the companies running these platforms will place warnings on beauty content that it is not verified or unsafe to try at home, but they are not withholding their advice. breath.
In the meantime, they would prefer that you contact, yes, a doctor, via an appointment or direct message on social media, before trusting a TikTok video. As Sonpal said, “We can advise and educate you for over 60 seconds.”