Step away from the Gorilla Glue.
TikTok has replaced teen mags — and your grandmother’s old world wisdom — as a one-stop shop for weird beauty advice. Want luscious lips without fillers? Try cinnamon oil. Frustrated by slow-growing locks? Try dousing your hair with rice water.
But how safe are these hacks? Do they work — or will they land you in the emergency room? To find out, I put my skin and hair and eyelashes on the line, trusting cool teens with my life (or at least, my face).
I also consulted with TikTok-famous dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah, who has 5.9 million followers on the app, for a more fact-based approach.
“There really is no hack that works for everyone,” he told The Post. But science says that some are more likely to help than others.
Here, we break down the app’s most viral DIY trends.
Coating your hair with clay to pump up curls
The hack: The $10 viral Aztec Clay mask is finding a new life as a hair treatment. TikTokers claim it can breathe new life into lackluster curls. Users swear by this method: To start, mix a few tablespoons of the powder with apple cider vinegar until it’s the consistency of oatmeal. (If your hair is longer or thicker, you’ll need more.) Wearing gloves to protect from the mess, separate your strands into sections and glob the paste on, root to tip. Wait about 10 to 20 minutes, until the mask hardens. Shower and shampoo at least twice, and try a deep conditioner if you can.
Should you try it? After just one application, I was impressed. It worked so well that I’ve completely ditched my usual curl cream because air drying my hair alone leaves me with big, bouncy waves.
Shah’s not surprised by my results. “I think people lose their curls because they build up a lot of debris over time,” Shah said. Calcium bentonite clay, the mask’s main ingredient, “has such a powerful absorbing property” that it can suck gunk out of the hair, allowing curls to return, he said. “I would recommend doing it once a month,” the doctor advised, though he warns that people with color-treated hair should be careful; the clay could make the shade fade faster.
“Slugging” your skin with Vaseline for moisture
The hack: Slather a palmful of Vaseline or Aquaphor all over your face before you go to sleep. The next morning your skin will be perfectly dewy. Fun fact: Tyra Banks (who famously gifted her talk-show audience jars of Vaseline the way Oprah handed out cars) and Marilyn Monroe are fans of this trick.
Should you try it? “I think it’s great actually,” said Shah. “It’s such a good occlusive moisturizer that it’s able to lock in a lot of your natural skin oils and everything that helps repair.” I agreed — although it did leave my pillows with that Vaseline-y hospital smell, my skin was super soft the morning after I tried it.
To boost hydration, Shah suggests putting your moisturizer of choice on before topping it off with jelly. Doing this once a week can help repair your skin barrier, if you’ve been using too many products or are dried out from the winter, he said. However, if you’re particularly acne-prone, slugging could “exacerbate” the problem by locking in bacteria in your pimples.
Bay leaves and coconut oil to fight dandruff
The hack: Bring a tablespoon of coconut oil, a few bay leaves, and a few cups of water in a pot to a boil. Let it cool, and put the liquid in a bottle. Apply all over your scalp and let sit for 15 minutes. Then wash it out in the shower with shampoo and conditioner. TikTokers claim this can get rid of the little white flakes.
Should you try it? “There’s really no scientific evidence that bay leaves or coconut oil is beneficial for this,” he said. Because coconut oil is “comedogenic,” meaning it can cause pimples, “you can actually get little pimples on the scalp” from using it, he warned. It can be really effective as a moisturizing tool on your hair shaft, but keep it off your actual head.
Bay leaves won’t be harmful — “they’ve actually been used in ancient Ayurvedic Indian medicine for a long time,” Shah said. It just isn’t clear why they would have any effect on dandruff.
Rice water for hair growth
The hack: There are a few different ways to make rice water, but this is the simplest: Mix one cup of rice with a a few cups of water in a bowl and let it sit for 24 hours. The next day the water should be foggy. Spray it on your hair, leaving it on for about 20 minutes before rinsing. TikTokers claim that doing this once a day, every day, helps their hair grow faster and stronger.
Should you try it? Shah gave this a passing grade. “There was one study that showed that rice bran water could help stimulate hair growth, similar to what any regular hair growth serum or Rogaine could do,” he said. Also, “The starches help to protect and moisturize the scalp, but I think this can lead to residue build up over time.” This doesn’t make it an ultimate cure for hair loss, he said: “It’s worth trying and seeing how it does for you.”
Cinnamon oil as a lip plumper
The hack: TikTokers are putting a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to their lip gloss, and then applying it to their lips generously.
Should you try it? Shah doesn’t recommend it. “It creates an inflammatory reaction that causes fluid to build up, blood to rush to the area, kind of like you got punched in the head,” Shah said.
In addition to unpleasant swelling, if you’ve got a cinnamon allergy, you could also have a reaction. There’s also the question of dilution. Most essential oil bottles suggest not applying oil directly on the skin, but it’s often not clear what to dilute it with, or the ratios to use. I mixed mine with some water before dabbing the mixture onto my lips with some ChapStick. It burned. A lot. My lips got swollen after a few minutes, and I gave up and wiped it off.
Shah also cautions that this it not a permanent plumper — although repeated use might leave lines. “If you do it all the time, you’re going to get those lines on your lips as they swell up and go back down,” he warned.
Castor oil to thicken eyelashes and brows
The hack: Douse a Q-tip with castor oil and apply it to your brows and eyelashes daily. To make it easier, some TikTokers have purchased empty mascara bottles and brushes to use.
Should you try it? Castor oil is generally safe, and it’s been credited with everything from curing constipation, to inducing labor to — yes — lengthening locks. Shockingly, my attempts at this haven’t made much of a difference, but my committed sister says otherwise. So do many of Shah’s clients and friends. “A lot of cultures use castor oil for hair growth and they swear by it,” he said.
Shah said there’s no scientific evidence that it works, but due to so much anecdotal success, “It’s worth trying out.”
“I don’t recommend things to people that don’t have any evidence behind them, but I don’t think it’s harmful,” he said.