TikTok, incubator of trends, is full of skincare hacks. Some are helpful, some are … less so, and some are flat-out ridiculous. Over the last couple months, a simple trick for banishing acne once and for all has gained some serious traction on the app. One user drew a few million views and counting for showing her dramatic transformation as a result of the treatment.
After trying “everything” to get rid of her adult acne, she says she sprayed a mixture of sea salt and water on her face twice a day, and that apparently achieved what nothing else could. She learned the trick, she says, from another TikTok creator who started using the remedy after realizing that her skin cleared up whenever she swam in the ocean.
Both say the concoction works because it balances skin pH and kills bacteria. Sound too good to be true?
In theory, there might be something here. But even if there is, this shouldn’t be considered a permanent fix for pimples.
Acne could benefit from the exfoliative, pore-cleansing effect of ocean water – specifically, magnesium-based ocean water. Theoretically, the salt can draw out oils from the skin and dry out pimples. That said, ocean water and a made-at-home mixture of sea salt and water and very different things.
Generally, DIY skincare remedies should be avoided. While they may appear, on the surface, to be working, replacing other parts of your skincare routine with it could spell trouble in the long run. In this instance, delaying proper care from a board-certified dermatologist could result in additional hyperpigmentation and, potentially, scarring as a result.
Even more, the notion that this particular solution is balancing skin pH and killing bacteria is not true.
“Sea water has an alkaline pH of 8. Acne-prone skin also has an alkaline pH,” cosmetic chemist Ginger King said in reaction to the treatment. “If anything, you want to use an acidic pH to balance the skin. Thus, we use glycolic and salicylic acid to help with skin issues.”
She added that ocean water does have an antimicrobial effect, but it’s not strong enough to kill acne.
If you’ve tried this treatment, you may well have seen results, but it’s not for the reasons you’re thinking. What’s actually happening is mostly the result of exfoliation and anti-inflammation – which you can achieve more safely with actual skincare products.