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Skincare myth: using vodka on my skin will help my acne

For those of us who have acne, we're willing to try almost anything to get rid of our spots, but should that extend to rubbing alcohol on them?
10 Aug 2020

Among the weird and wonderful home remedies for alleviating acne, rubbing alcohol comes up on multiple acne blogs and on social networks. Raved about by some, and seriously frowned upon by others, we spoke to consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk to get the lowdown on alcohol and acne.

Is there any truth in the myth that putting vodka on spots helps?

Dr Justine’s answer is a firm no. She tells us that is just isn’t true and there are far better over the counter alternatives that a pharmacist or GP can recommend. For more advice on how to use products to help improve the appearance of blemishes, see our product tips page.

What about rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)?

Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a secondary alcohol and is used in the home and also as an antiseptic. Its antiseptic qualities make it appealing to those with acne. Unfortunately, many users find that rubbing alcohol actually dries out the skin. Dry skin can then accumulate in the area leading to clogged pores to add to the dry skin around it!

What about alcohol when it is listed as an ingredient in skincare products?

Dr Kluk tells us that using harsh cleansers and some alcohol-based products is not good for our skin. These products strip the skin of lipids, which are part of its protective outer layer. As a result, skin barrier function may be compromised. This could lead to an increase in inflammation and breakouts. Dr Justine tells us that using a gentle cleanser is just as effective at removing oil and dirt, without the irritation.

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