Isn’t it a little bizarre how underrated hydrogen peroxide is? It’s a chemical compound made of H202 and is most commonly used as an antiseptic, oxidizer, and bleaching agent. It’s essentially a compound of water and oxygen, which are full of endless beauty uses. It’s a really safe and effective sanitizer that can be used on your skin, hair, teeth, and more.
Chances are you have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide tucked away in your medicine cabinet, buried somewhere behind your product graveyard—the spot where you stash beauty products you don’t really use but think you might want someday. Well, now there’s a reason to resurrect that unassuming bottle—actually, several reasons because there are several uses for hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide ($3) is the all-in-one mouthwash you didn’t know existed. Not only does it kill the germs that cause bad breath, reduce bacteria buildup, and diminish gum inflammation, but the peroxide also acts as a bleaching agent, making it an excellent teeth whitener. Some even say it helps alleviate toothaches and canker sores. Just swish it around for 30 to 60 seconds. If you do this every day, consider diluting hydrogen peroxide to make a half-water, half–hydrogen peroxide mixture to swish.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used to treat acne in the same way it treats cuts and scrapes. Dab it on a breakout to kill the bacteria and cleanse the area.
If you have a particularly breakout-prone area (say your chin or jawline around that time of the month), you can put hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball and use it as a toner to try to combat bacteria buildup and prevent pimples from forming.
Looking for a better way to clean your makeup brushes? (Answer: Yes, always.) Huffington Post suggests soaking your synthetic brushes in a 1:1 hydrogen peroxide and water mixture for five minutes, and then just rinse and dry for germ-free makeup brushes. This is also a good idea for disinfecting your toothbrush. You can even rinse your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide to kill staph bacteria and other common bathroom germs.
When dark polish stains your nails or they’re just looking a little dull and weathered, turn to hydrogen peroxide. It’s a natural whitener that may lighten discoloration. Two ways to try it: Rub a cotton ball saturated in the solution over your nails, or soak them for a few minutes.
Out of deodorant or looking for a more natural alternative to the chemical-heavy drugstore options? Try a wipe or spritz of bacteria-killing hydrogen peroxide.
For a germ- (and odor-) killing foot soak that also detoxifies, mix equal parts warm water and hydrogen peroxide. Some claim it naturally softens corns and calluses while rejuvenating tired feet.
Make your own toothpaste out of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Just mix three parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide until a paste forms. This DIY version works great in a pinch, and it’s a natural alternative to traditional store-bought whitening toothpaste.
How do you use hydrogen peroxide in your beauty routine?
National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem compound summary for CID 784, hydrogen peroxide. Updated January 23, 2021.
Epple M, Meyer F, Enax J. A critical review of modern concepts for teeth whitening. Dent J (Basel). 2019;7(3):79. doi:10.3390/dj7030079
Ricci F, Masini F, Fossati B, et al. Combination therapy with hydrogen peroxide (4%), salicylic acid (0.5%) and D-panthenol (4%): efficacy and skyn tolerability in common acne vulgaris during sun exposure period. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016;20(2):232-236.
Konidala U, Nuvvula S, Mohapatra A, Nirmala SV. Efficacy of various disinfectants on microbially contaminated toothbrushes due to brushing. Contemp Clin Dent. 2011;2(4):302-307. doi:10.4103/0976-237X.91793