Flaxseeds have long been a staple in nutrition and wellness. The superfood is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, and fiber, and has long been a wellness-world favorite for sprinkling on top of açai bowls or mixing into smoothies. Recently, though, these nutritious little seeds have caught the eye of skin-care aficionados on social media who claim that applying them to your face in mask form can mimic the effects of Botox.
On TikTok, #flaxseedfacemask currently has 80 million views and promises to hydrate, smooth, and tighten the skin. But, like all social media skin-care trends, I couldn't help but wonder if it's actually worth the hype. Keep reading to find out what experts have to say on the subject, and what happened when I tried it.
The benefits of flaxseeds for skin
“Flaxseeds contain fiber, and fiber improves skin hydration, which plumps up the skin to make it look softer and smoother," explains Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD, a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon in New York City. The effect could be comparable to the effects of aloe vera or hyaluronic acid which is used in many facial fillers and skin care formulations."
The seeds' omega-3 fatty acids also play a key role in how they affect your skin, promoting a plumper appearance and helping your complexion maintain hydration. Board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, caveats that in order to reap these benefits, you'll need to the seeds to be ground into a powder—if you apply whole flax seeds to your face, you won't get the same boost.
“Flax seeds also contain antioxidants that may protect the skin from free radicals, contributing to a more youthful look," adds Ira Savetsky, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. "When used in a face mask, the mixture might act as a gentle exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and promoting a smoother complexion. Additionally, the natural oils in flaxseeds could provide moisture to the skin."
All about the flaxseed face mask
The viral flaxseed face mask is nothing more than a mix of seeds and water, which explains why the prospect of it potentially mimicking the effects of pricey injections has wide appeal. But as you might have guessed, it's a little too good to be true.
“While natural remedies like flaxseed face masks may contribute to skin health and hydration, it’s important to manage expectations," says Dr. Savetsky. "Botox is a medical procedure that involves injecting a purified form of botulinum toxin to temporarily paralyze facial muscles, reducing the appearance of wrinkles caused by repetitive movements. Natural remedies may help improve skin texture, provide hydration, and offer antioxidants, but they won’t replicate the precise effects of Botox."
Though many users are swearing by the mask, Dr. Savetsky notes that its Botox-like effects are largely anecdotal. “The idea that such remedies can substitute for Botox, with its muscle-paralyzing effects, is not supported by scientific evidence," he says. “The effects, if any, may be more related to the general benefits of flaxseeds for skin health, rather than a mimicry of Botox.”
Potential side effects of the flaxseed face mask
Though the flaxseed face mask may seem harmless thanks to its uncomplicated ingredient list, experts caution that there could be some potential side effects that come along with it. While many complexions can tolerate the mask well, there are a few things to look out for when trying it for yourself.
1. Keep an eye on allergic reactions or skin sensitivities
Some people may be allergic to flaxseeds and not realize it, so it’s important to spot test before you apply the mask to your face to check for any adverse reactions. Dab a small amount of the concoction on the inside of your wrist, and if there's no irritation or redness after a few minutes, you should be good to move forward with the treatment.
Additionally, if you have sensitive skin, you may experience some irritation with the flaxseed mask. “Consider using a milder base or incorporating soothing ingredients like aloe vera,” says Dr. Savetsky.
3. Consider your skin type
If your complexion skews oily, it's worth knowing that the oils in flaxseeds may exacerbate existing breakouts. And if you've got super dry skin, be aware that the hydration in the flaxseed mask may not be quite enough to keep your skin quenched, so you'll want to follow it up with a moisturizing cream or facial oil.
4. Be mindful of seed residue
If you don’t separate the seeds from the mask, it can be a challenge to wash them off completely, and can lead to discomfort. “Ensure that the seeds are finely ground to minimize this issue,” explains Dr. Savetsky. (And, as Dr. King noted, you'll want to do this anyway to ensure
5. Beware of overuse
Dr. Vasyukevich warns of irritation if the mask is overused, as it can cause micro trauma to the skin. Limit yourself to a twice-weekly application to prevent your skin from freaking out.
How to prepare the flaxseed face mask
- Prepare ½ a cup of flaxseeds in a temp-safe bowl
- Boil 2-3 cups of water
- Pour the water into the bowl containing the flaxseeds. Stir well.
- Allow the concoction to sit for a few hours.
- Using a strainer or colander, separate the flaxseeds from the snail mucin-like mask (which is actually the mucilage in the flaxseeds that gives the mask its gel-like consistency)
- Apply the mask all over the face and allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes.
Dr. Savetsky notes that the ratio of flaxseeds and water depends on personal preference, so you can use your best judgment when it comes to amounts.
What happened when I tried the flaxseed face mask
I tend to be skeptical of DIY skin care and always question TikTok trends—especially when they claim to replace any kind of injections—however, I was pleasantly surprised by the mask. At least, to an extent.
Upon application, it was slimy—I'd liken the texture to snail mucin, but slightly thicker—but instantly tightened my skin in the same way the Hanacure masks do. However, the effects didn't last, and I can safely conclude that this DIY treatment is in no way a replacement for the long-term wrinkle-reducing results that come along with Botox injections.
With that in mind, Dr. Vasyukevich says that if you're after Botox-like effects, you'd have to use the mask so frequently that it would become impractical. "You cannot spend your entire day re-applying the mask. If you did it once a day, the effects would fade shortly,” he says. He strictly advises against using the mask continually in this manner, and recommends using it every few days to complement your skin-care routine or before an event when you'd like your skin to look a little tighter.
Loading More Posts...