“Toxic,” “flammable,” “corrosive,” “keep out of children’s reach” are the warnings listed on a bottle of Clorox. But a recent study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine suggested the common household cleaning bleach could have anti-aging benefits, and reports of women having bleach facials are popping up on social media.
Some spas lace the facials with such “natural” ingredients as honey, lime and lemon juice and cream.
Stanford University School of Medicine said in a statement about the study that if the bleach were found to work similarly in humans (the Stanford researchers ran their preliminary tests on mice), “the inexpensive, widely available household chemical could provide a new way to treat skin damaged by radiation therapy, excess sun exposure or aging.”
But it’s not that simple, say other medical experts.
“I wouldn’t recommend trying the bleach facial at home. … We are not chemists, and we cannot produce the exact dilution rate the Stanford scientists used,” Dr. Daniel Shapiro, a Scottsdale, Ariz., plastic surgeon, told ABCNews.com.
“I think it’s reallydifficult to figure out what .005 percent is. Any higher concentration of bleach can burn your skin,” he said.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the researchers, led by Dr. Thomas Leung, tested the effect of daily, 30-minute baths in the diluted bleach solution on laboratory mice with radiation dermatitis, a skin condition caused by chemo or radiation therapy. “They found that the animals bathed in the bleach solution experienced less severe skin damage and better healing and hair regrowth than animals bathed in water,” said the university’s statement.
“Originally it was thought that bleach may serve an antimicrobial function, killing bacteria and viruses on the skin,” said Leung, in a statement.
“Dermatologists treat skin problems with bleach-based creams,” said Shapiro, who said he’d never heard of chemical bleach facials in use. “The ingredient helps make collagen thicker, and I do see how bleach can be a potentially promising product for anti-aging based on this study. But it will need a great amount of work.”