It should come as no surprise that dermatology would be one of the most popular medical areas on the site.
Millions of viewers flock to TikToks promoting skincare hacks or information regarding a variety of cosmetic procedures. There are even “dermatologist influencers,” with some racking up millions of followers.
Still, as skincare trends have proliferated on TikTok, real-life dermatologists on the ground find themselves having to fight off a barrage of misconceptions and misinformation from patients.
One recent study from Sermo found that 74% of physicians had safety concerns about cosmetic trends they’ve seen on TikTok, while 59% of doctors said social media has been harmful to their efforts to manage patients’ expectations around cosmetic treatments.
A whopping 80% of dermatology providers said they were being “inundated” with patients who bring skincare and cosmetic trends on TikTok to the doctor’s office.
“Dermatologists feel they are in a no-win battle against unrealistic expectations of cosmetic treatment capabilities being presented on our consumer-facing social media channels,” Dr. Roya Azadi, medical director at Concord Clinic and Elite Medical + Longevity, said in a statement.
She added that while some consumer-focused social skincare content can be informative, some of what is being seen on TikTok is “not from a professional perspective and some of the procedures being presented are actually harmful to the patient.”
To help your skin in a safe, considerate way, here are some of the top dermatology trends on TikTok.
1. Hydrocolloid band-aids for acne
The latest trend to get rid of acne on TikTok involves slapping hydrocolloid band-aids onto your face to essentially suck the oil and moisture out of pimples.
Hydrocolloid bandages are typically used over scrapes or open skin that oozes pus, as they can help heal the area.
They can sometimes be used to treat pimples, but it depends on how you apply them. Generally, dermatologists will agree that the patches can be helpful as an isolated spot treatment – not by covering your entire face in bandages.
Dermatologist influencer Dr. Shah, known simply as DermDoctor on TikTok, has nearly 18 million followers and will often opine on viral dermatology trends.
In one video, he addresses the hydrocolloid bandage craze, noting that while it may be helpful for individual pimples, it doesn’t get to the root of the acne problem.
“Many of you who follow me know I’m a huge fan of hydrocolloid spot treatments,” he states in the video. “They’re amazing at lifting pus and oil from pimples that are close to the surface. But if you have acne, it doesn’t do anything to prevent [pimples], so you should really be treating your entire face with a retinoid, salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.”
Still, “This is super satisfying to watch,” he admits.
Slugging is one of the most popular dermatology trends on TikTok, and thankfully, if done correctly, it may actually be helpful. The activity involves putting on a thin layer of vaseline over your regular moisturizer before bed, to help moisturize your skin.
DermDoctor has another video explaining the basics of it and he notes vaseline is a dermatologist-approved and cheap product to use for moisturizing. Simply remove all your makeup, cleanse your skin, put on your regular gentle moisturizer, then place a pea-sized amount of vaseline on your face and rub it in.
The main ingredient for slugging, vaseline, is considered an effective product and generally approved by dermatologists, including the American Academy of Dermatology Association, for skin care. Vaseline can help reduce dry skin, and can help injured skin heal.
3. Skin cycling
Skin cycling has become a common term to encompass a variety of skincare routines – and “cycling” through them each week.
However, the main four-day routine involves exfoliating acid on the first day, retinol on the second, allowing days three and four to be recovery days, then repeat. Some dermatologist influencers on the site, like Dr. Whitney Bowe and Dr. Adel, tout the benefits of the trend.
Still, not everyone is convinced skin cycling is the magic cure. One video from Michelle Silva, a TikToker who often discusses skin care and anti-aging, explains that she’s been using retinol daily for 20 years – and that her skin wouldn’t look as good if she did a “skin cycling” routine that involved retinol only once a week.
In the video, Silva cites a Harvard blog post that notes doctors typically recommend trying retinol every other day to start, then gradually working up to every night. Using sunscreen during the day is also important in the process.
Since the “skin cycling” trends vary for each individual, it’s important to speak with your dermatologist about what routine may be best for you.
4. Vampire facials
They look as scary as they sound: Vampire facials have become popular on TikTok as an anti-aging effort and are known for the blood spots and redness on people’s faces following the procedure.
Known as plasma-rich protein (PRP) facials, “vampire facials” involve a doctor taking plasma and platelets from your own blood and concentrating the sample into platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
PRP has been used in medical procedures to help heal injured joints, but recently dermatologists have picked up the practice to stimulate collagen production in the skin. The idea is that the growth elements in PRP help your skin to heal itself and rejuvenate through an increase of collagen and elastin.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, there’s limited scientific evidence behind PRP for dermatology, though one study showed it led to some improvements. The Cleveland Clinic also notes it’s important to be aware that “vampire facials” are technically medical procedures, not cosmetic – and that there may be side effects, like pain and bruising following the microneedling.
5. Pore vacuums
Pore vacuums have gained popularity on TikTok, as the at-home products appear to be a satisfying way to suck the oil and junk out of your pimples. Plenty of gross videos on the site show the vacuum pulling out ooze from people’s pores.
Yet most dermatologists on TikTok are speaking out against pore vacuums, noting that while they may seem satisfying in the moment, they can damage your skin and blood vessels.
“Here’s my weekly video telling you all not to use pore vacuums because they damage your skin,” DermDoctor says in one video.