The beauty world is full of myths and urban legends, and perhaps, even more, when it comes to skincare. And while we’re not saying that you shouldn’t listen to the wise skincare advice that your mom or grandma gave you, the truth is that many of the common things we used to believe in are just myths.
Therefore, in order to separate fact from fiction, we decided to collect the most common myths about skincare.
Retinol is the undisputed anti-aging superstar, but it can also cause serious unpleasant side effects, including redness, dryness, and flaking. But if you are experiencing one of these symptoms, it is important not to completely stop using retinol, but rather to change how and when you use it. “You should expect your skin to be dry and irritated, especially when you first start using retinol,” says Ife Rodney, MD, dermatologist and founding director of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, Maryland. “Instead of stopping retinol use altogether, you should reduce the frequency of use every other night or even less, and then gradually increase the dose as you tolerate it,” she advises. Make sure you use no more than a pea on your entire face.
“Lower temperatures do not extend the shelf life of your product,” notes Danne Montague-King, botanist chemist and founder of DMK Skincare. “Your body normally has a temperature of 36.6 degrees, and when you apply cold cream to your skin, the skin heats up immediately.” It is true that cold temperatures help reduce puffiness, so if that’s your goal, Montague-King advises using a cold compress that will keep the temperature cool even when placed on warm skin. Massagers such as a jade roller or kansi will also work.
Here’s good news for all budget shoppers: “Not all expensive skincare products necessarily work better than their cheaper counterparts,” says New York City-based dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, MD. “It’s all about the recipe,” she adds. Case in point: One of Dr. Mariwalla’s favorite foods is the underrated vaseline.
That being said, certain ingredients, such as vitamin C, really need to be formulated correctly in order to work effectively. However, Dr. Mariwalla adds that, especially for cosmetics like moisturizers and cleansers, you often just pay more for a pretty package or a trendy brand name.
Find out which active ingredients are best for your skincare and read the label before buying, suggests Dr. Rodney. This is a much better guideline than the price tag.
It might seem intuitive to skip a moisturizer if your skin already appears smooth but resist the urge. Oily skin can still be dehydrated. In fact, excessive sebum production may just be a way to compensate for dehydration, explains Stacy M. Chimento M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami. Regular use of a moisturizer will ultimately make your skin less oily by helping to balance sebum production. The key is to choose a light, oil-free formula like hyaluronic acid gel cream.
Cosmetics store products work differently than injections, says New York City-based dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. “Your daily beauty routine is essential for sun protection, antioxidants, hydration, exfoliation and more. But it cannot do what injections can.” She explains that neuromodulators like botox interfere with the interaction between nerve and muscle, and no topical agent can penetrate deep enough to have the same effect. However, the use of care products can help preserve the effects of the injections.
When it comes to sunscreen, basic mathematical principles don’t quite fit. First of all, remember that SPF only measures the protection of a product against UVB rays, the ones that cause sunburn. The difference in UVB protection between SPF 100 and SPF 50 is negligible and does not provide double blocking. SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%. Therefore, the general recommendation is to stick to a broad spectrum formula that blocks both UVA and UVB rays with at least an SPF of 30. To obtain the indicated level of protection, you need to apply a sufficient amount of sunscreen.
Discoloration around the eyes occurs when blood and fluids do not circulate effectively. Yes, lack of sleep can definitely make the problem worse, but that’s not the only reason. If you have dark circles, it could mean that you are lacking iron or not getting enough oxygen. In addition, the thinner the skin, the more visible all imperfections become, which naturally occurs with age. Eye creams find it difficult to get rid of dark circles under the eyes, but a formula containing caffeine (known to help improve circulation and constrict blood vessels) can help.
People talk about open and closed pores all the time, but “pores don’t open and close like shutters,” says Dr. Cimento. This type of misnomer means the pores are enlarged or stretched, which can be due to age, temperature, and genetics, combined with clogging with dirt and sebum, making them appear larger and more visible. The best way to shrink pores is to exfoliate your skin regularly.
Of course, genetics plays a role, but skin aging is a complex process that is determined by both internal and external factors. So, no matter what your siblings look like, you can do whatever it takes to protect your skin from the sun, the environment, the stress, and the harm of smoking.
Consider this as another reminder that using sunscreen 365 days a year — rain or shine, or even indoors — is perhaps the best thing you can do to keep your skin healthy. While you may not be able to see the sun outside, remember that UV radiation is present in daylight and always comes from the sun, even on an overcast day. And it is this ultraviolet light that causes aging and skin cancer.