Back in the day, when the myth started, toothpaste was a pretty simple product with less harmful ingredients than toothpastes contain today. All toothpastes act as drying agents, but old-school toothpastes had less capability of really damaging your skin. And the one thing a pimple needs is to be dried out before it can go away. Where exactly the myth of toothpaste as acne treatment began no one knows, but it persists via the information highway that is the Internet.
Why Toothpaste on a Pimple Is a No-No
In a nut shell, there are two toothpaste ingredients you want to avoid putting on your face: menthol and fluoride. Menthol gives that zinging, deep clean, minty feel in your mouth while you're brushing; but it can cause inflammation and itching if you put it on your face. Fluoride is in most (but not all) toothpastes on the market today; check the labels. However, fluoride can cause problems for sensitive teeth, which are made of even tougher stuff than your skin. Fluoride can actually cause skin breakouts.
Why Acne Treatments Are Better
Acne treatments, even inexpensive over-the-counter ones, have special ingredients to not only dry your pimples out but also get rid of the bacteria that causes them in the first place. Acne treatments provide a one-two punch in a healthier way. While some treatments are harsh and can also cause skin irritation, they usually come straight from the dermatologist and are only for chronic acne problems. Drug store spot treatments are usually harmless enough to take care of your occasional blemish.
What Ingredients Should Be Used?
The answer: salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which are in most acne treatment medications. Benzoyl peroxide fights bacteria, and salicylic acid dries out your skin while promoting cell turnover to help fresh skin cells emerge. If you're a newbie to these ingredients, look for a product that contains 1 percent salicylic acid or 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, but not both.