Skincare is an entire science. It has its own fields, and those fields have subfields, and each field is very specialized. From getting rid of acne, to preventing them, from ironing out wrinkles, removing discoloration, all the way to getting rid of stretch marks or just getting younger-looking skin, skincare is one vast, complicated thing. And just like any science or field of knowledge, it has its own myths. Myths that we took the time to debunk in this article. Read on and learn what’s true, and what’s false in skincare.
While it’s tempting to think that merely washing your face enough times in the day will prevent acne, the truth is much more complicated. Acne develops thanks to a complex interplay between several factors. Sone of those are genetic, other factors are hormonal, and yet other factors are connected to personal hygiene. But, not in the way that most people think.
Acne develops once a clogged pore becomes inflamed, turning into a blackhead or a whitehead - and random dirt plays a very small role in that. Most acne develops after our pores get clogged by an excess of our skin’s own oil, called sebum, combined with a bacterial infection. When it comes to preventing acne, whether you wash your face twice, or twenty times a day, it won’t make any difference.
No, no, and no. We get it, the temptation to just crash into your pillows is super strong after a super long day. But do you realize what’s going on? All that makeup, mascara, foundation, lipstick and so on is getting pressed against your skin for six, eight, ten hours. If there was ever a recipe for getting your pores clogged, sleeping with your makeup on is definitely it. While makeup can definitely cause acne, there are certain acne-causing makeup ingredients you can avoid to prevent that. And finally, if you’re super tired after coming home, just use handy options like makeup removing towelettes or micellar water.
Do you really believe that? Let me tell you why you don’t. During the day, our hands touch the following things: fast food tables, random doorknobs, your dirty cellphone, public bathroom stalls, public transport seats, random benches, keyboards, keys, random seats, and so on and on and on. After an ordinary day, your hands are the equivalent of a cornucopia of Petri dishes, and then you go on and squeeze that on your face. Do you still think that’s a good idea? If you really must touch your face, due to uh, “reasons,” then please, for the love of your skin, wash them very well before doing it. Or, try out a high-quality cleanser or two.
You’ve heard this a dozen times already. You buy a new skincare product, you apply it, and your skin begins to tingle and burn. But your friend is all like “Oh don’t worry, that’s actually great! It means it’s working its magic.” But lo and behold, you wake the next morning with a red, sore splotch on your face. So what is actually going on? Well, for one, your skin was probably irritated by the product or had an allergic reaction.
Slight burning and tingling are fine, as long as they are merely temporary and don’t drag on. If they do, chances are those burning sensations are real, and what’s burning is actually your skin. If that happens, you should wash your face with cool water immediately. And fortunately for you, there’s a simple way to prevent this from happening in the future: always perform a patch test.
No, they’re not. Okay, okay, let me explain. Hot showers, while extremely pleasurable, heat up your skin, making all the water evaporate from within it. After all, your skin has pores, and these pores are responsible for making our body sort of “breathe.” When you heat yourself up during a hot shower, your body actually warms up and performs the equivalent of sweating, but through our skin. And not only that, the heat makes the moisture trapped on our surface skin layers evaporate as well, and wash off all the precious skin oils that keep it soft and flexible.
Hot showers can be a quick way to make your skin dry, and it pays off to follow the common tips for dry skin. For example, you can take shorter, or milder showers, and if you really have to go the hot way - use a moisturizing body lotion after the fact.
Man, coconut oil is all the rage, isn’t it? People really went overboard by using it for literally anything imaginable. Cooking, sunscreen, moisturizer, miraculous skincare elixir, even as a lubricant during sex - if you can imagine coconut oil being used for a thing, people have probably used it. But there’s a lot of myths associated with coconut oil. And one of them is that it is also a good moisturizer.
Which is… Flat out wrong. See, most oils are comedogenic already, meaning that they are prone to clogging our pores. And coconut oil is one of the most comedogenic oils since it becomes waxy once it dries or cools. When you apply it over your skin, it forms a thin, invisible, almost plastic cover over our pores. Closing them. And helping them become clogged. And paving the way for a fresh new acne inflammation.
It’s intuitive, but not really. Here’s the deal with sunscreens. The Sun’s light sends three kinds of ultraviolet radiation our way: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Our atmosphere absorbs the UVC rays and they don’t even make it to the ground (well, unless you find yourself under a hole in the ozone). It’s the UVB and UVA rays that cause sunburns, uneven skin tones, dark spots, wrinkles and other kinds of discoloration due to photoaging. In addition, they also damage the skin’s DNA, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
But while most sunscreens work well enough, the problem is that companies often don’t make it clear which rays their product protects from. Is it UBV rays only? Is it UVA + UVB? This is important, because a lot of sunscreens only offers protection against UVB rays. So even if you have a nice sunscreen with an SPF of 50, it will still be ineffective against UVA rays. And according to the University of Iowa, UVA rays are 500 times more frequent than UVB rays. The solution? Look for “broad spectrum” sunscreens, with an SPF of at least 15, and containing one of the following UVA-reflecting ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone (Parsol 1789), mexoryl, or titanium oxide.
But while we’re on the topic of UVA rays, sunscreens and their effectiveness, a word on the associated myth that tanning booths are safer than suntanning out in the sun. That is simply not true. While many tanning booth companies boast that their tanning machines filter out the harmful UVB rays, they still blast “nice” UVA radiation in you, which can lead to all kinds of difficult-to-get-rid-of hyperpigmentation. And the problem is that UVA rays penetrate deeper, cause damage to our cells, and can cause even skin cancers. If you really want to get a nice tan, you’re much better off with slathering some broad-spectrum, SPF 15 sunscreen, and spending time in the sun.
See, that’s wrong too. Clouds don’t block UVA and UVB rays from reaching the ground. Our atmosphere only absorbs UVC radiation, but the rest makes it to the ground. If you’re spending too much time outside you can still get sunburns, even if it’s cloudy all day. The same can be said about all those people that get sunburns during winter. The snow can reflect up to 80% of the UV rays, so if you’re out and about, always use a good, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
The simple fact of the matter is that makeup doesn’t contain nearly as many ingredients that block UV rays. If you wanted to reach the SPF level of ordinary sunscreen, you would have to put on at least 15 times the amount of makeup on your face. Just no.
We all know that icky, but satisfying feeling when popping a nasty zit. The goal is to make our face look cleaner and drain that pus. But the problem is that popping pimples requires squeezing the surrounding skin. This pressure sometimes sends parts of the pus deeper, and lodge themselves inside the damaged tissue. And what does then happen? You get even larger and nastier acne, that’s what. So, it’s not OK to pop pimples. However, if you’re in a hurry and have to do something about a large zit, you can be hygienic and careful about it - and drain it with a clean needle.
Really? Are they? Well, the fact of the matter is that one cannot measure the “allergy-causing” degree of a substance, let alone a product. It is common knowledge that people are sensitive, and allergic to different things - just because I am allergic to peanuts, doesn’t mean you will be. But have you seen the label “hypoallergenic” slapped across apples, for example? No.
So what gives? In short, it’s a marketing trick. There are no accepted rules, guidelines, objective testing methods, regulations and so on for allergenic or hypoallergenic substances. In fact, many products that claim are “hypoallergenic” still contain irritating substances that may be allergic or problematic for people with sensitive skin. So, don’t be taken in. Always check the list of ingredients, and if there are substances you are allergic to - put it back on the shelf.
Sadly, no. The likelihood of having cellulite is ultimately hereditary, and it’s just one of the many human body’s natural, although not very aesthetically pleasing, processes. While some creams may mask it, or reduce its appearance, they won’t make it go away. Exercising and keeping the specific area well-toned can reduce its appearance, so keep your chin up. At least you don't have butt pimples.
The truth is that our skin doesn’t get used to anything. If a condition you’ve been treating disappears, the ingredient did its job. If the condition has improved, but no further, then that’s the limit that either your product or your body have reached.
When a product stops being effective, it did all it can. Time for a new product, or, just good old acceptance. What the skin can become adapted to is frequent exposure to ingredients it finds irritating, such as retinols or glycolic acid. In time, the adverse reactions will lessen, because your body becomes desensitized and “learns” that exposure is ultimately not dangerous.
Chances are this was told to you by someone who splurges tons of money on expensive eye creams. But the truth is that there is no evidence that eye creams are more effective than, say, your regular facial moisturizer. Most of the products used in general skincare already contain the same antioxidants, anti-inflammatory substances, emollients, retinols and so on, that would help the skin around your eyes too. It’s thinner, and more fragile, and more “tired”, but a well-formulated serum, or a facial moisturizer, can be just as effective as the most expensive eye cream. It’s all about the ingredients, so be sure to check the label.
Sure, while people with oily skin have a naturally more elastic skin (due to the extra skin oil), that doesn’t mean their skin can’t get damaged or dry. This is especially the case if you’re using cleansers (as people with oily skin are wont to do), because cleansers strip away the natural, protective oils from your skin. So, people with oily skin can still benefit from moisturizers, but they should stay away from super oily ones or heavy creams. Hydrating lotions or serums work best.
While you can take a number of steps to prevent, or reduce skin aging, wrinkles are a natural, and pretty inevitable process. Cumulative Sun damage, smoking, damage from pollution and just the natural process of aging all contribute to the natural appearance of wrinkles. While fine lines (the product of dryness) can be ameliorated with the use of a good moisturizer, wrinkles, for the most part, are here to stay. Unless that is, you visit a cosmetic surgeon. But a product, on its own, won’t remove wrinkles.
Well, no. But yes. But also no. Or basically, it’s an illusion - but sometimes a useful one, since some methods can indeed make your pores look smaller. But looking at it realistically, what changes is the overall surface of your skin. Your pores appear larger because your skin has slightly puffed up from all the hot steam. But pores don’t “open” or “close” as such. They can become clogged, and the surrounding skin can squeeze them tightly shut, or widen them. Be as it may, steaming can help with cleaning your face and unclogging some pores, which is super effective at preventing acne.
Not really. Most facial treatments involve the rubbing of various substances, oils included, over your skin. These substances can actually clog your pores, and cause subsequent acne breakouts. Microdermabrasion, on the other hand, merely removes the uppermost layer of your skin. While still something, its effectiveness questionable since the same effect can be achieved by many other means, for example exfoliation. (Which, you should never, ever, over-do because over-exfoliating your skin sucks!)
Actually, no. In skincare, most changes take a while until they’re noticeable. And by “a while” I mean months or maybe weeks in the best-case scenario. That’s because our skin goes through a natural cycle of renewal, called desquamation. Desquamation can take anywhere from 21 to 28 days, and more, removing dead skin cells and replacing them with new ones.
So, whatever you’re using, its effects won’t be visible until at least one of those cycles passes and a new one begins. After all, skincare products work by influencing our skin. And our skin takes its sweet time… So, just keep calm and carry on.
Meaning that only creams, lasers, gels, lotions, exfoliation, and so on can improve the appearance of your skin. But if you’re existing on cigarette packs, refined sugars and a steady supply of alcohol, no skincare product in the world will be able to improve your skin. See, maybe we are not, literally speaking, what we eat - but what we consume definitely affects us. A healthy, balanced diet, rich in vitamins and one that takes the best of all worlds, is necessary for maintaining a healthy, clear looking skin.
While it may seem like that, they actually don’t. Besides, we all know at least one person who lives on sweets and fast food, and their skin is acne free. So what’s the deal? Well, while the causes of acne are complex, food is almost never a significant factor. Whatever you eat, your body then transforms into material it can use.
Acne (and especially adult acne) is mostly genetic, hormonal, and one of the factors that directly leads to it is an overproduction of skin oil (sebum). Sebum then clogs your pores, and voila - you have acne now. But greasy food can add extra oil and grease to your face and the area around your mouth and nose. This can, of course, make your pores faster to clog, and result in acne inflammation. Therefore, although fast food and chocolate don’t cause acne by actually eating them, if you don’t wash your face well after a meal, they can still lead to acne.
Not only do those overhyped, DIY charcoal masks not do anything to remove blackheads, but they can even irritate or burn your skin. Most DIY recipes suggest that it is safe to prepare these masks with glue, but putting glue over your face is one of the worst skincare advice we’ve ever heard of. Glue contains tons of irritant chemicals, and when combined with charcoal, you can actually get both burned and clog your pores. If you want safer alternatives, you could check out some recipes for DIY clay masks.
Pore strips, on the other hand, are a nice gimmick, but a gimmick nonetheless - they don’t remove blackheads nearly as effectively. Your best defense against clogged pores is to be patient, and resort to methodical use of cleansers and exfoliation. Slowly, but surely, you’re bound to see results.
Vitamin E can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and maybe make certain scars less prominent. But while Vitamin E aids the body in some processes of self-repair, especially when it comes to the skin, it doesn’t remove scars or make them disappear. For more effective treatments for scars, and severe acne scars, look to Roaccutane (Accutane) and consult with surgeons and dermatologists. Laser resurfacing treatments are effective at scar removal and reduction as well. But slathering on Vitamin E oil, or just Vitamin E pills over your face isn’t going to help.
Oh, you’d be surprised. Let’s be honest here - if it’s nor prepared in front of your eyes, on the spot, and prepared out of fresh ingredients found in nature, chances are it’s not “natural.” Companies love touting that their products are all-natural, while the ingredients they use in making their products are sourced from factories and large storehouses. In addition, these “natural” ingredients are then processed in the labs of the company, and oftentimes even outsourced to other labs and factories overseas.
What does “natural” even mean in this context? Even the ingredients that are present in nature are nowadays mostly produced in laboratories, synthetically. Why? Well, because it’s cheaper, but in many cases, also more environmentally friendly. Why cut down a large forest to grow millions of flowers just to get that sweet exfoliating acid, when you can derive it in a small lab? And the best part is - it’s just as effective.
Oh, we bet that’s what the companies want you to believe, don’t they? However, there is no evidence to support such claims. The truth is that you can find good skincare products at all price ranges. But what’s perhaps even more shocking - you can find some really bad skincare products that cost a lot of money too. I mean, if it sells, don’t fix it, right?
See, when it comes to proper, quality skincare, what matters is the quality of the formula itself. And quality formulas usually don’t need cool-sounding additives like the aroma of exotic fruits, or this arcane spice, or an iridescent color, or a strong perfume. In fact, the stronger the smell of a product, and the more intense its color is, the more unnecessary, and potentially irritating substances it contains.
You can easily find cheaper skincare products that contain the same things that a luxurious skincare product contains - without all the bloat added to it. And besides, those shiny, luxurious boxes and fancy packaging? That’s factored in the price too, and yet, it has zero effect on your skin. So, be smart with your money and go for what works, instead of what looks fancy. You’ll thank us later.
This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.