In this age of TikTok, more kids and teenagers are following the dermatology advice of social media influencers over doctors. Dr. Kay S. Kane, our Boston Children’s Hospital-affiliated Pediatric Dermatologist, would like to share the top three WORST ideas out on TikTok right now.
A TikTok video went viral getting close to 2 million likes by describing a technique called sunscreen contouring. In the 15-second clip, the influencer put a base layer of low SPF sunscreen all over her face followed by a high SPF block only on desired highlights, before tanning. The claim is that “the sun will contour your face” naturally.
As a pediatric dermatologist I have seen terrible sunburns with this approach. One commenter said it best: “it’s as smart as using a condom with holes in it.”
Freckles are now trendy (thank you Meghan Markle), but unfortunately TikTok videos are showing people how to tattoo freckles on themselves at home. One Australian TV star bought tattoo ink off eBay, then used a sewing needle to prick freckle tattoos onto her face.
The results were disastrous. She ended up in the hospital with a reaction to the ink and a skin infection leaving her permanently scarred.
The lesson here is that cosmetic tattoos are best left to the professionals. Or better yet a make-up pen can dot temporary freckles on the face which can be washed off easily.
Another cringe-worthy TikTok trend that went viral shows kids how to file their teeth down with a nail file. The claim is that you can smooth ridges and make your crooked teeth look straighter at home. During the pandemic people cut their own hair and trimmed their own nails. But kids need to know that hair and nails can grow back, teeth cannot.
This TikTok trend has resulted in lasting damage to teeth, not to mention poor cosmetic outcomes.
It is important to explain to kids and teenagers that the goal of TikTok influencers is to get as many likes and followers as possible. Thus, their claims made on 15-second video clips are often exaggerated or untrue. And with all social media platforms, before and after photos can be filtered or edited. Before your kid or teenager does something regrettable, have them see a board-certified dermatologist, or one of our providers at SkinCare Physicians, for professional skincare and cosmetic recommendations.