"Toothpaste residue can irritate the skin," says Richard Lipari, DDS, cosmetic and general dentist in Chappaqua, New York. "Everyone’s skin is different so the degree to which the skin may be affected depends on the person. You should always wash your face after brushing your teeth."
- Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital
- Mary Lupo, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology
- Richard Lipari, DDS, cosmetic and general dentist
This is especially true if you're already managing skin-care concerns and sensitive skin. "The fluoride can also aggravate rosacea and acne," says Mary Lupo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New Orleans. Plus, many kinds of toothpaste contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
"SLS is the prototypical sulfate ingredient that has been removed from sulfate-free products," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "It's a known irritant, causing skin inflammation. It used to be used commonly in cleansers and toothpaste because it acts as a surfactant to help remove dirt from the skin and gunk from teeth." As it foams it can get on to the skin surrounding the mouth, leading to irritation, inflammation, and severe dryness. This dryness can lead to a surge in oil production that results in pimples.
But, the easy way to prevent this is to wash your face after you brush your teeth to get rid of any residue. Even if you don't experience irritation, getting toothpaste residue on your clean face can make your skin-care routine less effective.
"Many people spend a lot of time, money, and effort applying creams and serums to keep their skin healthy and youthful," says Dr. Lipari. "You want to avoid making the mistake of brushing your teeth and potentially having abrasive toothpaste 'contaminate' the skin you just spent so much time cleaning."
The best thing you can do is brush your teeth, floss(!), and then wash your face. That way, your skin will be free of any potential irritants when you head into your skin-care routine.
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