The latest TikTok beauty hack to go viral involves smearing pickles on your face — and doctors say there might be something to it.
Videos showing users applying pickled cucumber, pickle brine, and pickle juice to their skin have racked up tens of thousands of views.
Advocates say it can treat acne, tone skin, serve as a makeup remover, and remove dead skin cells — though there is little scientific evidence to back it up.
But Christine Ko, MD, dermatologist and professor at Yale University, told DailyMail.com said there is some evidence the chemicals in pickled veg can have a skin-cleansing effect.
A skincare influencer rubs a pickle across a woman’s face and eyes in a video that gained more than 20,000 likes
Bizarre videos show users taping sliced pickles to their arms to alleviate pain and itchiness from big bites.
One TikToker rubbed a whole pickle across a woman’s cheeks, lips, and eyes during a facial, for example.
Another older video showed a user making a facemask out of pickle juice.
Some users have replaced their makeup remover with pickles.
Dr Ko said that both pickles and many typical over-the-counter products contain forms of acid, such as lactic acid.
This type of acid has been shown to remove dead skin cells, which helps exfoliate skin and give it a brighter complexion.
‘I would use anything with acid in it, either lactic acid or beta hydroxy acid or alpha hydroxy acid,’ Dr Ko said.
‘Things with acid in it do help things like acne, so in theory, it’s not maybe as crazy as it sounds, Dr Ko said.
Too much acid, however, can damage the skin by making it red, flaky, and prone to conditions such as eczema. In more extreme volumes, it can burn the skin.
Store-bought pickles contain about 5 percent acidity, though fermenting your own could carry the risk of higher acid content.
Dr Ko says people might opt for the pickle route because it is potentially less irritating than a traditional skincare product.
Dr Christine Ko, a dermatologist and professor at Yale University, says that while pickle juice carries low risk of burning or seriously harming skin, it’s best to stick with traditional products
‘I don’t think it’s really dangerous. It shouldn’t be too risky in terms of truly burning your skin,’ she said.
The risk could be higher depending on a person’s allergies and sensitivities to pickles, though the same is true for traditional products as well.
However, Ko suggests opting for the choice you can find on your drug store shelf, not the grocery store. ‘I personally would not put pickle juice on my face,’ she said.
‘Pickles and pickle juice just aren’t really tested on the skin, whereas most products that are created are. There are products out there that are fragrance free, even preservative free, that are formulated to be as clean as possible. So I would still probably go for a product like that rather than put pickle juice on my skin,’ Ko says.
Dr Ko would recommend using an over-the-counter, dermatologist approved product over slathering your skin with pickle juice.
‘My first choice would not be a random jar of pickles,’ she said.
As far as eating pickles goes, there is a host of health benefits.
In general, fermented foods such as pickles have been shown to reduce inflammation.
Eating yogurt regularly, for example, could lower risk of obesity, according to a study in the journal Advances in Nutrition.
Pickles also contain natural antioxidants, which help to fight fee radicals and lower the chance of developing diseases such as cancer or heart disease.
In addition, they’re high in lactobacillus, a probiotic that can strengthen the skin’s barrier and kill harmful bacteria.
The sodium in pickle juice can also help balance electrolytes, though it may need to be consumed in higher volumes to notice a difference.
A study in the Journal of Athletic Training, for example, found that drinking small amounts of pickle juice didn’t fully replenish electrolytes and fluid losses in athletes post-exercise.