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Debunked! Save your own skin and avoid these TikTok trends


Debunked! Save your own skin and avoid these TikTok trends

From slugging to sunscreen contouring, an expert explains why these fads are a no-no

Beauty editor
A model with dewy, slugged skin backstage at the Alexandra Moura show.
SKIN-DEEP A model with dewy, slugged skin backstage at the Alexandra Moura show.
Image: Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images

From frozen cucumber skin icing to using Durex lube as a primer, TikTok has been a magical world of beauty hacks, tips and tricks, giving us some of the most bizarre trends we have ever seen.

To be fair, while some TikTok trends have been ingenious and have added a wealth of knowledge to our beauty arsenal, it’s easy to be swept up by the hype of “TikTok beauty”.  It’s important that not every hack and remedy that pops up on your “For You” page is taken as gospel. It should be properly researched or taken up with a professional if you’re unsure. Unfortunately, a lot of the time these “secret remedies” hold no legitimate health or beauty benefits.

We turned to Dr Alek Nikolic, a renowned specialist in aesthetic medicine and owner of online skincare store SkinMiles, to debunks popular TikTok beauty trends that many have been tempted to try.


We were amazed that the viral buzzword known as slugging involved an old-school household product we have known for years. This viral skincare trend, coming from the world of K-Beauty, includes coating your face in petroleum jelly. Sound crazy? The aim of this process is to treat dehydrated skin by locking in moisture overnight.

“This trend does work to some extent as an occlusive agent like Vaseline provides a barrier to trans-epidermal water loss, so it locks the moisturising ingredients in the skin. However, I would not use the occlusive agent as the sole moisturiser,” says Nikolic. 

This trick works well in the winter months and for people who suffer from dry skin. However, if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, this is a trend you should steer clear of.


Tired of mastering a perfectly contoured and sculpted face every day and looking for a more low-maintenance option? This TikTok hack, though seemingly ingenious, may not be the safest for your skin. 

This trend, which did the rounds on social media over the summer, advises that sunscreen be applied to certain areas of the face to keep them lighter while everywhere else is left unprotected to tan, achieving a contoured effect and definition. “This approach will work to a certain degree for the intended purpose of making certain areas slightly lighter and others more tanned. However, one does tan through an SPF, so the covered skin parts will eventually tan as well. Leaving certain parts of the skin exposed will lead to an increased risk of cancer and ... [accelerate ageing],” says Nikolic. 

As firm sunscreen advocates, we believe no part of the skin should be skipped when applying it, so it’s best to give this one a miss and instead use a good bronzer to achieve a perfect contour.


If you read this trend’s name and thought “WTF!” we don’t blame you and unfortunately it is exactly how it sounds. This trend encourages women to use sandpaper to shave their legs. Though it is a cheap alternative for hair removal, Nikolic advises that readers not try it at home. “This technique will lead to severe damage to the skin. Not only will it damage your skin, it simply won’t work. The hair follicle is too tightly adhered to allow the hair to be removed with sandpaper,” says Nikolic. We suggest giving this trend a hard pass for your skin’s sake.


Chlorophyll, a pigment that gives plants their green colour and helps them create food through photosynthesis, is having its moment in the world of wellness. It is said this magic ingredient detoxifies the body and helps reduce acne in the process. Chlorophyll water is the green-coloured water that has been popping up on social media timelines. 

“The studies are very limited when it comes to chlorophyll water. Based on the ones I have come across, the number of participants has been 10 people or less, which is a very small sample group. That said, there’s no real conclusion when it comes to the benefits of chlorophyll water for acne or the skin,” explains Nikolic.