While you may think you have a pretty good idea of how to take care of your skin, most of us believe at least some falsehoods that can take a real toll on the complexion. Here are eight of the most common skincare myths, along with advice that dermatologists wish you would follow.
1. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for everyone
Coconut oil sounds like a fantastic moisturizer—it’s natural, affordable, and won’t coat your skin in potentially hazardous chemicals. However, although Coconut oil can provide light hydration and keep your skin soft and smooth, it also has comedogenic properties. This means that it can clog pores, so if you are prone to acne then you could see pimples popping up after a few days or weeks of use. Further, if you have moderately dry or very dry skin, you are likely to find that coconut oil isn’t hydrating enough to keep your skin in good condition.
2. Facial exercises will get rid of wrinkles
“Facial yoga” is increasingly trendy, with those who wish to maintain youthful skin choosing to contort their mouths, eyes and foreheads into all kinds of impressive positions in the name of beauty. However, dermatologists caution that not only do these types of facial exercises fail to treat wrinkles, but they can also cause new wrinkles by weakening the skin’s elastin. Consequently, deliberately relaxing your face is a better way to slow the development of fine lines.
3. If you work indoors then there’s no need for sunscreen
If you spend your days surgically attached to a computer screen, you might comfort yourself by thinking “Oh well, at least I’m keeping my skin in great shape!” While glass does block UVB rays, it is UVA light rays that promote skin cancer risk and age your skin—and these are a danger indoors as well. To keep your skin protected, find products containing UVA-fighting ingredients like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and avobenzone.
4. You need vitamins to support your skin’s health
Some people claim that maintaining gorgeous skin primarily hinges on taking special vitamins. One of the most common skincare myths about supplements focuses on vitamin E. It is indeed connected to a glowing complexion, but only in the right doses—which are achievable through a healthy diet. If your vitamin E intake becomes excessive through supplementation, you may be risking your general health. For example, the American Heart Association and American Thoracic Society agree that vitamin E and other supplemented vitamins can decrease life expectancy and increase lung cancer risk.
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5. Oily skin just needs washed more often
If you wash your face more than twice a day and scrub places like your nose and forehead, your body will start producing more (not less) oil, to make up for the dryness you’re causing. Wash oily skin gently and carefully, and consider investing in a soft electric brush.
6. You should treat warts and skin tags by tying them off with string
This persistent skincare myth has been around for hundreds of years, and it was particularly popular a few generation ago (so you may have heard it from one of your grandparents). As is often the case, there is some truth to the rumor—tying string around a benign skin tag can sometimes cause it to shrivel up and die. Nevertheless, there are a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t opt for this approach. Firstly, an untrained eye can’t tell whether a skin growth is harmless or cancerous. If you try tying it off instead of visiting your doctor’s office, you could end up delaying a crucial diagnosis (as well as the associated treatment). Secondly, even benign growths can bleed excessively when treated at home, causing scarring and leaving the site open to infection.
7. The same solution applies to both teenage and adult acne
It is commonly assumed that teenage and adult acne should be approached in exactly the same way. However, what got rid of your pimples and cysts when you were 17 will rarely leave you with smooth, healthy skin in later life. Mature skin is typically drier, and the products you used in adolescence are likely to leave you with a dehydrated face. In particular, stay away from antibacterial soap and most prescription acne drugs, as these can all lead to redness, itching and a scaly look. Instead, look for a milder cleanser that has salicylic acid as a key ingredient. And if you can find a product containing retinoids, you’ll be addressing the major signs of aging at the same time as treating your acne.
8. Perfect skin can be created with cream
As the above suggests, there are times when the solution to your dermatological woes really does come in a jar. That being said, it’s important not to buy into the skincare myth that an exclusive focus on topical treatments will keep your skin in amazing condition. There is an increasingly large body of evidence suggesting that what you eat and how much water you drink is just as important to skin appearance and functionality. So far, some of the most promising skincare benefits are attached to foods like grapes, tomatoes, and dark chocolate (yes, really—just make sure it is more than 70% cocoa!).