Some of the same ingredients that help toothpaste clean your teeth and mouth of bacteria can also clear up excess oil that can get trapped in your pores. But like any product being used for unintended purposes, toothpaste may not be as effective as products formulated specifically for battling blackheads.
What Are Blackheads?
Although blackheads may appear to be dirt trapped in your skin, they actually develop from the inside out and are a precursor to pimples. A blackhead is “a blockage of the hair follicles by sebum and keratin from the skin cells that have been shed,” according to the website for England's public healthcare system, National Health Service. The blockage oxidizes and turns black when it comes into contact with air. In other words, blackheads are really just a buildup of natural oils and bacteria.
Toothpaste Ingredients That Help Clear Up Blackheads
Depending on your skin type, your body may produce more or less of these natural oils. Toothpaste contains ingredients such as triclosan, alcohol, menthol, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, among others, that can dry out the skin. Triclosan, an active ingredient found in many bathroom products, is an antibacterial agent that is particularly effective at drying out excess oil trapped in pores.
How to Apply Toothpaste to Dry Up Blackheads and Pimples
Excess drying can cause its own issues, however, so do a toothpaste test first to ensure you don't have a bad reaction to it and your skin doesn’t get too dry. Apply the toothpaste in one small area to start, leave it on for 15 minutes and then remove it. If your skin looks red and irritated, you may want to try a commercial product specifically formulated to remove blackheads. If your skin has no adverse reaction, you can apply the paste to other spots and leave it on overnight. When removing the toothpaste from your skin, splash it with cold water or run a piece of ice over it to help close the pores. Apply moisturizer afterward to counteract the drying effect of the toothpaste.
Things to Keep in Mind When Applying Toothpaste to Blackheads
Apply toothpaste directly from the tube, or mix it with salt or hydrogen peroxide to spark the active ingredients. Choose an all-white toothpaste instead of one of the gel varieties, which can contain different ingredients that may not be effective. If you have a reaction to toothpaste on your skin, you may want to choose one that does not contain fluoride, which has been linked to skin rashes. Avoid toothpaste products that have teeth-whitening agents such as bleach that can burn your skin. Consider opting for natural and organic toothpastes that include some of the natural active ingredients found in popular consumer products.
The ingredients in toothpaste do not make it any better than commercial acne treatments, New York dermatologist Dr. Neal Shultz told the Huffington Post, but toothpaste can be a quick fix. If you are removing blackheads on a regular basis, however, over-the-counter creams are a better long-term option. See a dermatologist if you have persistent or severe acne.
Raquel Villarreal honed her editorial skills in bilingual and bicultural environments, launching and nurturing web properties such as eHow en Español and Livestrong.com en Español. Prior to that, she gained editorial experience at print magazines such as Time Out New York and Texas Monthly, among others.