TikTokers are using food for skin care, so I tried it

Does food belong in your skin care routine? I tried (and talked to experts about) some of TikTok’s most popular food-as-beauty-products trends. (Photos: Jamie Davis Smith) Great skin doesn’t have to cost a fortune or involve tons of synthetic ingredients. Many TikTokers are turning to their pantries, using food as […]

Does food belong in your skin care routine? I tried (and talked to experts about) some of TikTok’s most popular food-as-beauty-products trends. (Photos: Jamie Davis Smith)

Great skin doesn’t have to cost a fortune or involve tons of synthetic ingredients. Many TikTokers are turning to their pantries, using food as a natural, organic and effective skin care remedy.

I’d be thrilled to finally stop spending hundreds of dollars a year on lotions and face masks, instead running to the supermarket for the magic potion that will prevent wrinkles and give me glowing skin, so I tried some TikTok-recommended home remedies.

Dermatologists say there are no major risks to slathering fresh foods on your face, as long as they aren’t spoiled. Just be careful not to overdo it. Dr. Harikiran Chekuri says, “the potential downsides of using these ingredients topically include clogged pores if left on the skin for too long, so they should be removed after 10 minutes.” He also cautions some may experience irritation, suggesting a patch test (testing a product on an area of less sensitive skin, like the arm, to look for any allergic reactions) first.

With that in mind, I set out to discover whether convenience and cost would convince me to use items from the produce aisle for skin care, or if the “ick” factor would win out and keep me loyal to my go-to brands.

Avocado

Avocados are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E. According to Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist and author, avocado moisturizes, nourishes, relieves inflammation, prevents and treats acne and reduces signs of aging. Still, some are allergic to the oils in avocados, so it’s important to do a spot test before using.

Overall, I found making a face mask from an avocado to be a fail. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

Overall, I found making a face mask from an avocado to be a fail. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

The first challenge in using avocado for any reason is finding one ripe enough to use that hasn’t yet gone bad. After spending some time gently poking over a dozen avocados, I was pleased to discover a perfect one. I mashed the avocado with a fork, using the same technique I use when making guacamole.

I probably should have spent more time mashing the avocado, because it still had some chunks when I applied it to my face and I found it hard to get anything except for small bits to stick to my skin, although a good amount got stuck in my eyebrows. For me, an avocado mask was a fail. If I want to take advantage of the benefits of avocado for skin care in the future I’ll try avocado oil, which has the added perk of not needing to worry whether or not an avocado is ready to use.

Olive oil

Chacon says olive oil is high in vitamins, lipids and antioxidants, all of which help achieve healthier-looking skin. “Its antioxidants can aid to reduce the appearance of aging,” she says. Dermatologist Dr. Cory Gaskins explains olive oil is a great choice to “deeply moisture” skin. For best results, dermatologist and researcher Dr. Enrizza Factor recommends choosing a high-quality olive oil that “doesn’t contain additives or chemicals.” A rare side effect of using olive oil on skin is that it might cause acne in some, so proceed slowly.

Even using a jade roller didn't help my skin absorb the olive oil. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

Even using a jade roller didn’t help my skin absorb the olive oil. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

Olive oil was my least favorite of the foods I applied to my face. Not surprisingly, it felt oily and slimy. I tried using a jade roller to get the oil to penetrate more deeply and to see if it would cause the oil to feel more soothing and less drippy. It didn’t.

Even after I washed the olive oil off, it felt like a residue was left behind. However, my skin did look shiny — in a flattering way — after I used the olive oil. It also felt softer and more supple. Given the benefits of using olive oil, I may try using it topically again with a different brand, but this try was a miss.

Cucumber

The humble cucumber has soothing and cooling effects. Chacon says they promote antioxidant activity, which can slow signs of aging. According to Gaskin, cucumbers are “great for reducing puffiness around the eyes.” And, they can reduce redness. For most people, there aren’t any downsides to using cucumbers on their skin.

While I wasn't a fan of the cold sensation of the cucumber on my face, the scent was refreshing. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

While I wasn’t a fan of the cold sensation of the cucumber on my face, the scent was refreshing. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

I first put room temperature cucumber slices over my eyes and enjoyed the cool, soothing sensation. After that, I did what many TikTokers recommend and rubbed a frozen cucumber all over my face. I do not like cold and did not enjoy the sensation, although those who aren’t as sensitive to the cold may fare better with this trend. Because I was so uncomfortable, I cut this experiment short, so I didn’t notice any benefits. I did love the refreshing smell of cucumber for the short time I used the frozen one.

Honey

Honey isn’t just a good natural sweetener. Chacon says it deeply hydrates the skin, works as a pore cleanser, serves as a gentle exfoliator, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, lightens scars and brightens. Still, honey might not be the best choice for those with infants since, “eating honey by mouth has resulted in botulism in infants,” according to Chacon.

After slathering my face with honey, my husband said my skin looked radiant. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

After slathering my face with honey, my husband said my skin looked radiant. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

I worried that applying honey to my face would be a gross sticky mess, but was pleasantly surprised that the mess wasn’t too bad. I used my hands to apply the honey to my face and found it transferred easily and was simple to apply evenly. I thought it would be uncomfortable to sit around with something so sticky on my face but I barely felt it.

After 10 minutes I braced myself for what I thought would be a challenge to remove, but with a hot washcloth, the honey came off easily. My husband said I looked radiant.

Oats

Oats aren’t just a tasty breakfast. Factor explains “oats have been used as a topical treatment for centuries” and that using them topically can “significantly improve skin dryness, scaling, roughness and even itchiness.” She thinks oats make a great daily cleanser that’s “gentle for the skin.” According to Chacon, oatmeal moisturizes and nurtures. While most tolerate oats on the skin well, those who are allergic may experience blotchy itchy skin, says Chacon.

I got a small bowl of oats ready by quickly mixing some with some hot water. After I let the mixture cool I started applying it to my face with my fingers. It was really messy and hard to get the oats to stick, and nearly impossible to apply the oats evenly. At one point I had a huge chunk stuck to my nose but then I could hardly get any to stick to my cheeks.

I found oats hard to remove from my skin, and will probably stick to only eating them going forward. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

I found oats hard to remove from my skin, and will probably stick to only eating them going forward. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

I rubbed the oats in as well as I could and let them sit for a while. Getting oats off of my skin was difficult. I don’t think oats work well as a mask, although they could be a good exfoliant. After I used the oat mixture on my face, my face felt smoother and looked a little clearer but given the mess, I think I’ll stick to only eating oats from now on.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil has several potential benefits, according to Chacon. Those include lowering inflammation, keeping skin hydrated and aiding in wound healing. “It also has antibacterial qualities, which can help cure acne and protect the skin from dangerous microorganisms,” Chacon says.

I melted coconut oil with some warm water to make a mixture perfect for slathering onto my skin. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

I melted coconut oil with some warm water to make a mixture perfect for slathering onto my skin. (Photo: Jamie Davis Smith)

Factor adds that “it’s easy to apply directly to the skin and poses few known risks.” However, coconut oil isn’t for everyone. “Coconut oil is very comedogenic, which means it can clog your pores and make blackheads, whiteheads and acne look more prominent,” Chacon explains.

I melted coconut oil in a bowl with hot water and stirred it to dissolve. Then, I used my fingers to apply the oil to my face, rubbing it in. It felt a little slimy but was soothing. After about ten minutes I used a washcloth with warm water to rub it off. I thought my skin had a new glow once I it was all removed.

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