Throughout 2023, we’ve seen a host of unusual, questionable and downright bizarre health trends on TikTok — ranging from bed-rotting to shadow work and ‘girl dinner.’
Now, flaxseed is making the rounds as the next big health trend on the app and dermatologists have taken notice of the supposed skincare fix.
This all started with a video from TikTok creator Victoria Benitez in which she claims flaxseed — a seed that’s associated with good digestive health, given that it’s high in fiber — mixed in water can be used as an alternative to Botox.
Benitez’s video has gathered more than 6 million views since she posted it in mid-November, sparking a craze around flaxseed masks as an alternative to Botox.
“You see this right here? This is Botox, this is Botox that you make at home, honey,” Benitez says in the video. “The best part? It’s two ingredients: flaxseeds and water.”
She goes on to tout the “endless” benefits of flaxseeds — from being a natural shampoo to an at-home soap, to being used to bake bread and as a good digestive tool.
“When you put it on your skin, the fatty acids are going to give you that glow,” Benitez claims. “It also is anti-inflammatory so it’s going to reduce any redness, inflammation. Have some with water, and that will give you all the fiber you need for the day.”
Flaxseed takes flight
Since then, thousands of others have jumped on the trend, with videos showcasing the step-by-step process of making the face masks.
“I literally went and got that right away,” notes TikToker @itsjennnnnaa about the homemade flaxseed mask, in a video that has gathered more than 20 million views and 1.8 million likes. “My skin is honestly the most sensitive ever. Especially in the winter time, it gets even worse. I was really hesitant to even try this, but I’m so happy that I did honestly. It was so cooling and honestly my skin responded so well to this.”
Dermos discuss flaxseed pros and cons
TikTok is known for having an obsession with skincare tips and tricks, with trends focused on better skin ranging from slugging and turmeric face masks, to concepts such as “glass skin” and “skinimalism.”
However, the latest flaxseed trend has triggered questions about whether it’s actually effective and useful. Based on the majority of dermatologists’ responses, it’s safe to say that flaxseed masks won’t do much for your skin.
Dr. Scott Walter, or @denverskindoc, is one of the lead dermatologists on the platform who has posted commentary on the matter. He pointed out in a reaction video that mixing flaxseed and water can create a jelly-like substance that tightens when it dries.
“Essentially, all that’s doing is creating a glue that tightens your skin,” Walter explains. “So yes, it can temporarily tighten as the mask dries, but is it going to give you any long-lasting effects on your wrinkles? No.”
Another TikTok physician influencer, Michael Jazayeri, who is a board-certified plastic surgeon, responded to the trend by posting an explainer video about whether flaxseed oil compares to Botox. In short, it doesn’t.
“I don’t think flaxseed oil by itself is going to be able to penetrate through the skin to do anything,” he explains. “[With] Botox, we’re actually injecting it past the skin into the muscle and it causes paralysis… Don’t expect it to work or last as long as Botox.”
That sentiment was echoed by Dr. Teresa Song, a dermatologist at Marmur Medical.
“Although the benefits of oral flaxseed have been studied with potential anti-inflammatory properties, topical usage of flaxseed currently does not have substantial supporting scientific evidence,” Song told In The Know by Yahoo. “The video claims that it has similar effects to Botox, which is a false claim as there are no other ingredients on the market that can work as effectively as neuromodulators.”
While flaxseed may not do much for your skin, it can be beneficial for you if you eat it since it is packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids as well as lignans, a form of phytochemical. Just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed has about two grams of fiber.
Flaxseed can be used to ease digestive issues or constipation and also has benefits for your overall cardiovascular health, as it can assist in reducing total blood cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
Many nutritionists recommend adding ground flaxseed into breakfast cereals, yogurt or even baking it into desserts. Generally speaking, experts suggest sticking to using flaxseed in baked goods rather than as a skincare hack.