Does Toothpaste For Acne Really Work? 7 Kinda-Crazy Home Remedies For Pimples, Plus How Effective Each Really Is

If you've suffered from a pimple that has sprung up at the absolute worst time, there's no doubt that you wouldn't try anything to get rid of it overnight. I'm not too proud to admit that my own vanity has caused me to try some pretty crazy home remedies to remove zits. Toothpaste for acne? Yep. Smearing my face with harsh lemon juice? Oh, you betcha. With years of experience breaking out at the exact wrong moment of my life behind me, I can honestly say that some of the weirdest ways to zap zits have worked. Not all home remedies are created equal, though. In fact, some may seem completely unnatural — even downright disgusting. For every soothing egg white face mask, there's a disastrous counterpart, so it's best to do your research before you go rubbing your zits down with something that could actually make your skin worst. 

Of course, there are plenty of at-home rememdies that do actually work quite well, but even then they won't work for everyone. In my opinion, that kind of makes home remedies more likely to succeed over a standard OTC product: YOU are the "scientist" behind these home remedies, so you can adjust the ingredients and proportions necessary to your own needs. It just takes a little time and research to weed through the myths of clearing acne to find the ones that actually work to zap those zits.

1. Toothpaste

Ah yes, my love and affection for home remedies can be traced back to high school when I applied toothpaste on my pimples religiously. It never irritated my skin, and actually worked to clear things up about 90 percent of the time. According to the Huffington post, most toothpaste contains ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, witch hazel, baking soda, and alcohol — all things known to take down a zit. Unfortunately, using a combination of all those drying ingredients can also lead you down a path of face destruction. Although it may work to get rid of a spot every time, there are some safer alternatives, including using baking soda or witch hazel solo.

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda, $4, Amazon;  Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel, $9, Amazon

2. Preparation H

This acne saving trick seems to be an old wives tale for some and a miracle for others. Rumor has it that because of Prep H's anti-inflammatory properties, it can bring down under eye puffiness AND zap a zit like no other. According to Livestrong, using Preparation H to clear pimples works best if you mix it with saline solution or OTC eye drops. However, this hemorrhoid cream often contains hydro-cortisone, phenylephrin (a nasal decongestant), and other less than desirable chemicals, so it's not ideal for those trying to lead an all-natural beauty life. I haven't tried this acne trick since high school, but here is what I remember, and it's pretty similar to other horror stories involving preparation H for acne: It worked for about two weeks until my face got red and splotchy. This negative effects of this offbeat acne treatment were harder to get rid of than any pimple I've ever gotten.

Preparation H Cream, $9, Amazon;  Little Remedies Saline Spray, $5, Amazon

3. Saliva

Long-time believers of saliva to treat acne claim that a dab of spit in the morning (when your saliva's at its purest) can cure your zits. According to the Boston Globe, saliva contains antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties that could actually help bring down the inflammation of your pimple. After getting this helpful tidbit of information from one of NY's finest taxi drivers, I tried it out myself. The results didn't irritate my pimple — which is definitely a possibility considering how acidic saliva is — but it also didn't do much by way of getting rid of it.

4. Egg Whites

Using eggs for acne actually made me turn my nose up even more than my own spit. Putting aside how vile and unforgiving I found the texture and scent of eggs, I applied an egg mask during a particularly bad outbreak. Using eggs to combat aging is not a new thing; according to sources like Livestrong, eggs have been in skincare in China since 600 B.C. Apply an egg white face mask on severe acne and try to bust this myth. Personally, I found the egg mask to be particularly soothing on cystic acne.

5. Banana Peels

Let me be the one, without a medical degree, to say that I wholeheartedly stand by using a banana peel for acne. After rubbing a banana peel on a pimple for about 10 minutes, I found that the drying effect the fruit had only lasted until I washed my face. Ideally, any acne treatment, whether home remedy or OTC,  isn't going to dry out your face — just the zit. According to Livestrong, the high level of potassium in bananas suffocate the bacteria and bring down inflammation. According to Positive Med, all the rich nutrients and vitamins that we eat in bananas are rich in the peel, make a banana peel a quick, effective methods to clear up a blemish. I happen to agree.

6. Semen


"Need your sperm, willing to have sex with you for it." is a text I've definitely sent before to a friend with extra benefits. I've considered semen for acne treatments to be one of the biggest old wives tales in skincare... until I went off birth control and found myself covered in pimples, desperate to try anything to get rid of them. According to My Healthy Feeling, semen is good for skincare in general because it contains a ridiculous amount of vitamin E, plus is a good source of vitamins C and B12. My own sperm story didn't end in flawless skin or tragedy: I suspect my pimple went down naturally when paired with a baking soda and apple cider vinegar mask, but my good pal still claims that his semen has super-healing powers.

7. Bacon

The first time I heard that pork fat could be used as a moisturizer, I thought to myself "OK, fine, perhaps there are people that enjoy the hydrating properties of lard," but as a vegetarian I had no desire to try it out. Suddenly, there were whispers of applying bacon to a pimple being an effective treatment. I couldn't help but narrow my eyes and think how counter intuitive that sounded. Most research states that bacon grease, merely ingesting it, can actually cause acne, but there are still some that claim bacon can draw the pimple to a head faster thus allowing the healing process to start. I'm gonna leave that up to you guys to try.

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Image: Piotr Marcinski/Fotolia; Vook, Marcus Walker , Patrizia/Flickr; Giphy; Kristin Collins Jackson

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