Why People Are Putting Eye Drops on Their Pimples

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TikTok has done it again, making a seemingly random solution the hottest trend. If you’re human, there’s likely been a time that you had a pimple or recovering blemish that was a bit more red than you’d like. There are plenty of ways we try to take attention away from the redness, like using concealer or applying pimple patches. Recently, TikTok users have begun to use eye drops on their pimples.

The trend seems to have begun with Bree Martin revealing the trick on her page. “I’ve been gatekeeping the best way to cover up a pimple without any makeup for far too long,” she says. Then she proceeds to apply Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops ($14) to a pimple to minimize inflammation. The video has over 2.5 million views, and “Eye drops on pimples” on TikTok has 76 million views. With so many people interested in trying the trick, we had to check in with some dermatologists about whether or not it’s a good idea.

Can using eye drops on acne actually help reduce redness?

We were surprised to learn from West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD that this could actually work because eye drops serve to constrict blood vessels, to relieve eye redness, so they may help a pimple appear less inflamed. Santa Monica, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD says brimonidine, which is in many eye drops, is responsible for contracting blood vessels.

“This vasoconstrictor can work, but it’s fleeting—probably a few hours at best on the skin. Then the redness resumes,” says Dr. Shamban. “These products were designed to work absorbed into the mucosa eye tissue where there’s a network of tiny blood vessels that can be seen.”

Even if it helps reduce redness, does it help treat the pimple itself at all?

“Absolutely not,” says Dr. Shamban. “It does not help with reducing, treating or eliminating the actual pimple or pustule.” While the drops may help with redness, they won’t address the cause of the acne or heal it any faster, she explains.

Do dermatologists recommend trying this?

Although Drs. Beer and Shamban don’t necessarily recommend running to try this trick, there are not many contradictions for the general public. “In theory, if you did it over enough skin, you could raise your blood pressure,” says Dr. Beer. He notes that a similar medication was used to decrease redness from rosacea, but once it stopped working, there was a rebound flare-up. Dr. Shamban notes that the area around the pimple can also be affected by the eye drops, making the skin very pale, in comparison, for the time period.

“I would not recommend this trick as treatment, although it does not actually do any harm. If you are in a bind and look like a tomato—for a night out or a lunch meeting—it can be a temporary fix,” says Dr. Shamban. “So sure, go for it, but it’s not dermatology approved to actually work on treating or healing the pimple or the cause of the acne.”

What do dermatologists recommend for reducing acne redness?

“There are many other products and ingredients that are designed to both remove the redness and irritation while helping to treat the cause of the actual pimple,” says Dr. Shamban. Dr. Beer points to laser and in-office treatments as solutions.

For an at-home solution, Dr. Shamban recommends products with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid to reduce redness while healing the actual pimple. She also suggests aloe vera, vitamin C, tea tree or chamomile. “Plus, the new category of hydrocolloid patches is great to reduce inflammation and redness,” says Dr. Shamban. “They also protect from the bacteria that is a root cause of acne. So these are better bets than your Visine.”

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