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Skincare expert comments on TikTok’s top beauty trends


Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

What do the terms ‘slugging’, ‘moisture sandwich’, ‘pore vacuums’ and ‘face taping’ mean to you?


Tik Tok has become a major platform for beauty tips, tricks, advice and tutorials. It offers an overwhelming amount of information, but like most social platforms, it’s not all good.


In this article, Karen Bester, Medical Trainer at Lamelle Research Laboratories, gives her professional take on TikTop’s top beauty trends of 2022.


The first trend Bester looks at is ‘slugging’, which originated from K-Beauty (Korean Beauty), and involves a single simple act – coating your skin with an occlusive like petroleum jelly before going to bed. The concept is that the occlusive will act as a barrier and seal in moisture, resulting in soft and moisturised skin the next morning.


Says Bester: “Here I believe that balance is very important. We know that occluding the skin will trap water, which will in turn help the enzymes in the skin to exfoliate any dry cells that need removing. However, if we trap too much water, this can lead to maceration, which is never a good thing. So, slug along when your skin is feeling dry in general or after having a treatment, when your skin needs to heal. Occlusion is not required every night though; your skin should have the ability to trap enough water if the lipid bi-layer is intact. Also, long-term use of occlusive products can be comedogenic – i.e. cause breakouts.”


Another Korean technique, a ‘moisture sandwich’, refers to the act of applying products to damp skin (as opposed to dry skin), because it is suggested that the ingredients will trap the moisture from the water and thus better hydrate the skin. The first product is usually a humectant (a water-absorbing product) and this is followed by an occlusive (to seal in the moisture).


Bester notes the following: “It is true and well-researched that applying your products to your skin when your skin is still moist after cleansing does help your skin to trap higher concentrations of water and keep it better hydrated. Applying a humectant (hyaluronic acid is my favourite) first will also help to draw the water in and will trap the water in the skin. A good moisturiser, applied over the hyaluronic acid-containing serum, will mimic the skin’s biology and oils and will keep this moisture trapped. It will also allow the skin to ‘breathe’. Occluding the skin is not required and has its own challenges as discussed above.”


A ‘pore vacuum’ is a device that uses suction to remove oil and dirt from the pores in an attempt to deep clean the skin. These devices are readily available online, sometimes for as little as R120.


Explains Bester: “I wish that these did work – we could then just go for relaxing facials and not need to have deep cleanse facials with extractions. Unfortunately, these tools can be quite damaging and cause painful bruising without extracting the comedones. This is especially true when the skin is not prepared well or with larger, more stubborn congested areas. You would need to cleanse and moisturise the skin; maybe use an enzymatic exfoliator just to loosen the congested areas.”


As strange as it sounds, ‘face taping’ involves applying tape to areas of the face where wrinkles might form, in an attempt to “straighten” the skin and give it a more youthful appearance for longer.


Bester has not personally tried face-taping but she thinks it is a ‘fabulous’ cosmetic tool to have droopy skin look younger. “I mean, Joan Collins cannot be wrong! Unless you are ripping off the top layer of the skin – the corneum. That is not a good thing and can cause semi-permanent damage to the skin. If you are using tapes, maybe use an oil to remove the glue so you do not hurt your skin when removing them.”


Another trend on TikTok is the salt water cleanse. This is based on the concept that skin looks glowing when you emerge from a swim in the ocean. Earlier this year TikTok users cleansed their skin with salt water twice a day, before applying their skincare products. They recommended the practice to enhance the skin’s radiance, as well as to treat and prevent breakouts.


Bester points out that there is very little data on the use of salt water in skincare. She continues: “In ancient (pre-2000) medicine, we used salt water to rinse wounds and mouths to lower bacterial load and assist in healing. I do not believe that salt water cleansing will have any negative effects on the skin. The only challenge might be if the salt content in the water is extremely high. In this case, the salt can draw water out of the skin and have a drying rather than a hydrating effect on the skin. With regards to toxins and oils being drawn out of the skin, it does not make sense at all. In fact, if you are using so much salt you will probably find that it dehydrates your skin. This is never a good thing.”


Bester concludes by saying: “While social media has the ability to educate, it also has the ability to spread false and dangerous information. The next time you see a new skincare trend going viral, consult your therapist before trying it at home.”

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