Some influencers have advised people tired of contouring their faces with makeup to use a thick sunscreen with high SPF, applying it only on the areas they want to highlight, like the top of the cheekbones and bridge of the nose. The rest of the face is left to tan (and burn), sunscreen free.
It’s a tip that flies in the face of the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation that everyone wear a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 on any exposed skin. “We know that this is crucial to do from a very young age from both a skin cancer and anti-aging perspective, so the idea that these videos are suggesting otherwise to a very young audience is disturbing,” Dr. Nathan said.
In April, drinking chlorophyll, which has had moments on other social media platforms, had a spike in interest on TikTok, driven by the endorsements of influencers like Amelie Zilber, according to Traackr, an influencer marketing platform. It has been called a “miracle product” that can increase energy levels, induce weight loss and clear up skin, but doctors say these claims are not backed by research.
Drinking chlorophyll is one of the more harmless recommendations on TikTok, but it’s likely a waste of money. (Sakara Life’s Detox Water Drops with chlorophyll cost $39, and raw chlorophyll drops on Amazon cost about $20, on average.) “If people are seeing ‘results’ from drinking chlorophyll, it’s likely because they’re drinking more water than normal, so their skin is getting better and their bathroom trips are more regular,” Dr. Sonpal, the gastroenterologist, said.
What trend do doctors really want to see left to the professionals? Microneedling, which involves puncturing the skin with tiny needles in an effort to generate new collagen. On TikTok, conversation around at-home microneedling grew in 2020 and is already experiencing five times more engagement in 2021, per Traackr, but experts say it’s incredibly risky to do at home.
While some studies have shown that medical-grade microneedling can improve skin suppleness and lessen wrinkles, “it needs to be done in a really clean, safe setting,” Dr. Engelman said, pointing to the high risk of infection. “If you go hard enough on your skin, it can lead to color change, textural change and scarring, essentially worsening what you’re trying to make look better, like fine lines and acne scars.”