Does Toothpaste Help Clear Pimples?

We all know someone who swears by the pimple-toothpaste method. And while it seems too good to be true, you’ve probably heard someone say it works for them every single time.

But believe it or not, they’re not wrong, and toothpaste can flatten a pimple, but the reason why it might work for some people is because of the drying effect toothpaste has on twitchhe skin.

However, can this drying effect be good for the skin? And can you really rely on toothpaste to get rid of pimples in the long run?

In this article, we’ll explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of using toothpaste on pimples, so if you’ve been thinking about trying this out, make sure to read on.

What’s Inside Your Toothpaste?

Toothpaste is a key part of your daily oral hygiene routine consisting of active and inactive ingredients that work to remove food debris and plaque from your teeth and gums.

While the ingredients may slightly differ from brand to brand, all toothpaste typically contains the same general components. These include:

  • Mild abrasives or scrubs: These help remove debris and surface stains.
  • Humectants: These help prevent water loss and keep your toothpaste from drying out and becoming gummy.
  • Thickening agents: Also known as binders, thickening agents help stabilize the toothpaste formula.
  • Detergents: These create the foaming action of toothpaste and help increase plaque solubility and accretions during brushing. Some examples include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a cause of concern for some people due to its potential to cause dryness and irritation.
  • Flavors: This is what gives toothpaste its taste. Common flavors include mint, menthol, and anise, which are also a concern for some people due to their potential to cause irritation.

All these components create an excellent product for keeping your teeth clean, but this doesn’t make them ideal for your skin.

In fact, most of the ingredients in toothpaste can irritate the delicate skin on your face.

Can Toothpaste Help Get Rid of Pimples?

Toothpaste can dry out pimples, especially those mild spots that occur every now and again due to a hormonal imbalance, changes in diet, stress, or other factors.

However, toothpaste won’t help you get rid of pimples simply because there isn’t an ingredient in toothpaste that directly works to heal a pimple.

Additionally, a few ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium bicarbonate found in toothpaste can be too harsh when used on inflamed skin, such as skin affected by pimples.

The reason for this is the high pH of these ingredients because remember, they are intended to work on aggressive plaque buildup and bacteria and not on inflamed skin.

After having our food, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the food, and small particles of food are trapped between our teeth that produce acid.

To neutralize this acidic effect, we brush our teeth with toothpaste, and since toothpaste is used for neutralizing acids, it is basic or alkaline.

However, our skin, on the other hand, is acidic, and adding alkaline products can negatively affect our skin barrier and result in dryness, irritation, and inflammatory conditions such as acne breakouts.

This is why toothpaste can actually exacerbate pimple breakouts by further irritating the skin and triggering an inflammatory response that will result in slower healing and higher chances of scarring.

Furthermore, toothpaste also contains clogging ingredients, often the cause behind those small pesky pimples many people get around their mouths.

Some ingredients in toothpaste, such as fluoride, calcium, and sodium, can lead to pimples by causing buildup inside the pores and creating an environment where acne-causing bacteria can thrive.

So, while toothpaste can help dry out existing pimples in some cases, this is definitely not the best strategy to combat them in the long run or prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Side Effects of Using Toothpaste to Get Rid of Pimples

As we already mentioned above, toothpaste can, in some cases, dry out a pimple and make it appear smaller overnight.

However, using toothpaste to get rid of pimples is not recommended as it can lead to several side effects, including:

  • Dryness, redness, and irritation.
  • Clogged pores and more breakouts.
  • Inflammation will lead to slower healing and scarring.
  • Rash.
  • Swelling and itching.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Burns and discoloration.

And while toothpaste is generally safe, and most people are unlikely to experience some harsh side effects, it’s important to note that it’s not something that should be applied to the skin.

Even if the skin doesn’t react the first few times, and you think you’ve found an inexpensive way to treat pimples at home, it doesn’t mean this won’t happen in the future. The same goes for trying to remove blackheads.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid applying anything with a pH that’s too high on the skin as this can cause all sorts of issues, including a compromised skin barrier, which can be an uncomfortable concern to deal with.

5 Toothpaste Alternatives That Will Help You Get Rid of Pimples Fast

If you are looking for a spot treatment that will make that uninvited blemish go away overnight, here are five natural alternatives that will help you get rid of pimples fast:


Ice is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to make a pimple go down fast.

Putting ice on the skin makes the tiny blood vessels under the surface constrict, which means less blood will be pumped to the area of inflammation, resulting in a smaller and less noticeable pimple.

And while icing can help redness and inflammation go down, especially after picking and squeezing, it’s important to note that it won’t have much of an effect on the actual cause of acne, which is bacterial overgrowth.

So while this may be a quick fix for a rogue pimple here and there, you shouldn’t rely on ice to help you get rid of acne cause it won’t do that.

Kaolin Clay

Kaolin clay is a fantastic way to maintain clear skin, and you can also rely on it to make a pimple go down quickly.

Clay is excellent at drawing out impurities and excess oil from the skin, which helps shrink the size of pimples and make them less noticeable.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe inflammation and redness.

To use kaolin clay and make a pimple go down within minutes, simply mix a little bit of clay with either a toner or bottled water and dot it directly on the spot.

Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and rinse off with lukewarm water before following up with a barrier-repairing moisturizer to combat potential dryness caused by the clay.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is another excellent method of quickly getting rid of pesky pimples. This antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent botanical extract can soothe irritation, dry out excess oil, and reduce pimples’ size.

To use witch hazel, soak a cotton ball in the extract and apply it directly to the pimple. You can leave it on as a spot treatment for a little while or overnight if your skin can tolerate it.

It’s important to note that witch hazel can dry the skin, so it’s best to use it as a mask or a spot treatment if your skin is on the sensitive side or prone to reactions.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an ultra-popular treatment for all sorts of inflammatory occurrences, including pimples, insect bites, rashes, and more.

This is because it’s a natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial agent, so it helps to fight bacteria, fungus, and other microbes that can cause infections or lead to inflammation on the skin.

Additionally, since tea tree oil is so popular, there are actually many skincare products that contain it at the adequate pH the skin can tolerate, so you wouldn’t have to use the traditional essential oil and risk potential irritations.

To use it, dab a small amount of a product containing tea tree oil on the pimple using a cotton swab and let it sit overnight.

Your pimples will likely be significantly smaller when you wake up.


Honey is another excellent at-home treatment for when you’re experiencing an outbreak of pimples and need to make them go down quickly.

This is because honey contains soothing and antibacterial properties that help relieve inflammation and minimize the appearance of blemishes.

To use honey as a spot treatment, simply apply a small amount of raw honey to the pimple and let it sit for 15-20 minutes or longer if you have more time. Keeping honey on the skin for a long time won’t do any harm, and it can actually help the pimple heal faster.

Once you’re done, rinse it off with lukewarm water and follow up with your regular moisturizer.

Originally Published: August 24, 2022

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Analyzed by Simone Sydel

Hi, I’m Simone Sydel, a licensed esthetician and acne expert dedicated to helping others solve their skin issues including acne, eczema, and UV damage. I specialize in testing and reviewing the latest acne treatments and beauty products, offering honest, practical advice for skincare. I’ve helped hundreds of clients clear their skin and my skincare product reviews have been read by several hundred thousand people. Thanks for visiting!

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