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TikTok Debunked: What is 'belly button oiling' and can it boost fertility?

Yahoo Canada spoke to Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto dermatologist, about the TikTok trend.

Welcome to TikTok Debunked, a series where Yahoo Canada digs into the truth behind popular TikTok health, beauty and food trends.

Does putting oil in your belly button lead to health benefits? Yahoo Canada investigated the TikTok trend. (Photo via TikTok/ellengendlermd)
Does putting oil in your belly button lead to health benefits? Yahoo Canada investigated the TikTok trend. (Photo via TikTok/ellengendlermd)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

It's no secret that TikTok is a treasure trove of skincare tips and tricks.

From concealing acne with eye drops to using glycolic acid as deodorant, Yahoo Canada has been staying on top of the app's most viral fads.

Another recent trend is "belly button oiling." But what is it? Does it provide any health, skin and fertility benefits? Should you do it?

Read on for everything you need to know, according to a dermatologist.

The claim — and how it started

  • Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Gendler stitched a TikTok video that claimed putting oil on your belly button helps boost fertility, eases menstrual cramps and reduces the chance of infection.

  • The dermatologist disagreed with the claim. When doing skin exams, she explained dust, dirt and food is often found in the belly button, and no blood vessels are attached to it because it's a scar.

  • Gendler claimed oiling your belly button provides no benefit. "Oiling your belly button ranks among the top five most ridiculous skin hacks I have ever heard," she wrote in the caption.

Context

  • Over time, influencers and lifestyle fanatics have posted TikTok's about the supposed benefits of belly button oiling. For example, TikToker @mallikaatroliya claimed it can purify your blood and clear blemishes from your body.

  • However, some users believe the practice doesn't deliver results.

  • The TikTok search term "oiling your navel" has over 166 million views while "navel oiling" has another 306 million views.

  • Putting oil — especially essential oils — on your belly button has traditionally been part of Ayurveda, an Indian healing system that believes health and wellness is a balance between the mind, body and spirit.

What TikToker users are saying

Some people disagreed with Gendler's video in the comments, saying that oiling your belly button is rooted in traditional medical and spiritual practices.

"Oiling your belly button has been an old and very beneficial practice according to Ayurveda. It has been practiced for ages and has various health benefits," penned a user. "Although, keeping the belly button clean and the hygiene around it is a different topic."

"The ancient practices of Ayurveda promotes oiling your belly button for mental and physical health benefits," explained another.

"In India we do it because that’s the life source of humans," added someone else.

Ayurveda aromatherapy massage, female hand pouring aromatic oil in an essential oil diffuser.

However, other users were confused by the practice in general.

"Hilarious! Thanks for dispelling all of these falsehoods," wrote a TikTok user in the comments.

"Where do people get this kind of information and ideas like this?" asked another.

An expert weighs in

To get to the bottom of the trend, Yahoo Canada spoke to Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto dermatologist and founder of the Toronto Dermatology Centre.

In his opinion, there's no major health or skin benefits to applying oil on your belly button.

"The only benefit I see is if you have some dirt in your 'innie,' then it can help soften it before you remove it with say a loofah or wash cloth," he said. "No real benefit other than to loosen up any crud."

The only benefit I see is if you have some dirt in your 'innie,' then it can help soften it before you remove it.Dr. Benjamin Barankin

The dermatologist urged caution around the TikTok video's initial claim of boosting fertility and easing menstrual cramps.

"Definitely doesn’t boost fertility or affect cramps," he said. "We do sometimes have bacteria and/or yeast in that area (especially in deeper innies) because it’s dark and warm, but regular bathing typically removes it," Barankin explained.

"That said, we probably could spend a few extra seconds to clean out our belly button a couple times a week," he added.

While oiling your belly button "is safe" according to the expert, he also said it's probably "pointless."

Instead, to take care of your skin and promote optimal health and hygiene without the use of oil, Barankin revealed "regular soap and water works for the vast majority of folks."

Closeup belly button on male body TikTok
According to Dr. Benjamin Barankin, putting oil on your belly button has no real health benefit. As such, Yahoo Canada has debunked this TikTok trend. (Photo via Getty Images)

Is it debunked?

After learning about the trend and getting information from an expert, Yahoo Canada has debunked this TikTok fad.

While there's no medical evidence to suggest oiling your belly button has any benefit, if it's part of your health, wellness and/or spiritual routine, there's no real downsides either.

The dermatology expert does, however, advise cleaning out your belly button a few times a week to maintain proper hygiene.

Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.