Diaper Cream To Reduce Acne? The Viral Trend You Probably Shouldn't Try

Isn't it funny how we all thought our acne would clear up once we aged out of adolescence? Oh how naïve we were! So you're 28, and you still get pimples? Who's big idea was this? And what's worse, by now you've tried every acne cream and pimple serum on the market, and it almost feels like nothing works anymore. At this point, you'll put mayonnaise on your face if someone says you won't have to deal with those unsightly, painful bumps from Lucifer's lair anymore. 

You're not alone. There is a new trend sweeping the interwebs, proclaiming the miraculous ability to shrink your zits in no time. And it is a product that is definitely being used off-label. That product is diaper rash cream. You read that right: The cream designed for a baby's sensitive tushie is being touted by YouTubers and Redditors as the best way to reduce your spots. It even has a huge celebrity endorser. In 2019, Hailey Bieber extolled the virtues of putting diaper rash cream on her pimples, telling Refinery29, "I have found that diaper rash cream is a great thing for bringing down redness and healing. If you think about what it's actually used for, which is red bumpy skin, it's essentially the same thing."

Girl, what? Is this safe? Should we actually be doing it? How did this trend go viral? Let's investigate. 

Social media went ga-ga for the diaper cream hack

In 2018, Canadian blogger Farah Dhukai took to Instagram to share with her 6 million plus followers her secret to treating cystic acne, and her post went viral with over 10 million views, per The Sun. She said her trick was diaper rash cream, and showed exactly how she applied it. She claimed over the course of three days, her acne reduced to a significant degree, and other beauty bloggers endorsed this. In 2019, YouTuber StyledbyKami posted a video where she applied bum rash cream to her forehead and chin spots, and told her viewers that her spots either "completely disappeared" or "shrunk" after a week. That same year, another YouTuber Leesa Unique tried it, and said that while it didn't completely cure her acne, her skin was smoother and her spots were reduced. 

These aren't isolated incidents. There is an entire sub-thread on Reddit where users literally gush about how great diaper cream works for everything from breakouts to cystic acne, and even chub rub. Users on the beauty thread claimed it's the much-beloved ingredient zinc oxide that provides pimple relief. The original poster wrote, "This diaper cream had done what none of my acid-pink spot treatment-sulfur-clay mask spot treatments could do, and made all of my horrendous cystic pimples come to a head."

This all sounds like a miracle DIY hack, but should we really be slathering this on our faces?

Dermatologists say there are better acne solutions out there

While this DIY hack might seem like the best alternative to buying Proactiv (dang those infomercials are effective!), according to dermatologists, diaper rash cream isn't the most effective acne treatment. In fact, it's an old hack that emerged before we had more sophisticated acne treatments.

Insider spoke with Dr. Kathleen Suozzi, who said that while the zinc in diaper creams might help, the "very long history" of zinc shows that it's not a long-term solution. "It's a pretty old-school regimen and now we have more elegant, more advanced treatment," she said, pointing out that zinc capsules used to be prescribed for acne, but they caused stomach upset. The publication also spoke to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, who advised that diaper rash cream "definitely will not work as well as traditional acne medications like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which get to the root of what causes acne to begin with."

However, if you just want to resolve one pimple quickly before a big business meeting, date, or photoshoot, using it temporarily shouldn't cause any health implications, according to Women'sHealth UK, because our body needs zinc to heal. If it's good enough for a baby's bottom, you're most likely safe from significant side effects. But still, there are better acne solutions to reach for.