You’re told a lot about your skin as you’re growing up. What to do, what not to do, which outrageously expensive skin care products to buy – but it’s probably true that most of these “facts” are just old wives’ tales. But how do you separate fact from fiction? After all, some of these tips might be completely true and backed by scientific proof! Well, we’re going to do our part by debunking 10 of the most popular myths on skin care so you can figure out which tips to pay attention to and which tips are total fallacies.
1. Shaving makes hair grow back thicker.
Although it might look that way, this is a lie. Your hair grows back with no additional thickness due to shaving. However, there is a reason why shaving might appear to cause that result.
“When you shave, you’re seeing the blunt edges of the hair regrow all at the same time, so there’s an appearance of being thicker, but there’s no difference in the diameter or the density of the hair,” said Dr. Arielle Kauvar, a clinical associate professor in NYU’s department of dermatology
Keep shaving, you’re good.
2. Exfoliating can slow hair growth.
Stop scrubbing! Exfoliating is not going to stop those annoying little hairs to go away on your face.
“Exfoliating the surface of the skin — it’s not going to change the metabolism of the follicle underneath the skin,” said Dr. Ronald Brancaccio, director of the Skin Institute of New York.
If you are looking to stop hair growth there are treatments, like the drug Vaniqa, which can topically reduce facial hair growth in women. Vaniqa works by blocking an enzyme that enables hair follicles to grow.
If you’re concerned about hair loss, consider that a number of illnesses can also lead to a temporary loss of hair. These include thyroid problems and a condition known as telogen effluvium.
3. All wrinkles form by age 25 – they just start to show later.
This myth stems from the assumption that most younger people are outside in the sun more often, therefore incurring the most skin damage.
“If you get a lot of sun exposure, you’re definitely going to get more wrinkles,” said Dr. Zoe Draelos, a dermatologist in private practice and a researcher in High Point, N.C.
The reason wrinkles form is due to a loss of collagen, the main structural protein of the skin. Collagen keeps skin firm and is produced less frequently as you age, resulting in less firm skin as you grow older.
However, sun exposure breaks down collagen even more, so it adds wrinkles that may not have existed. But, unless you have a protein deficiency, your body should still be producing natural collagen, so you are not secretly forming wrinkles – although you may be prepping your skin for future wrinkles.
4. Squinting or rubbing your eyes and face can cause wrinkles.
As the skin loses firmness with age, wrinkles form where it has been squeezed the most…and if you’re squinting your eyes frequently, you are wrinkling the delicate skin around your eyes.
Similarly, facial expressions that you regularly make can cause wrinkles, such as “smile lines”. However, there’s little that can be realistically done to prevent them from forming…unless you want to live a very boring, expressionless life.
Rubbing your eyes, on the other hand, is highly unlikely to leave marks because the rubbing doesn’t occur in the same place and in the same direction. But it can still cause dryness and irritation, so cut that out.
5. Apply moisturizer and foundation in upward strokes or you will get wrinkles.
“You can’t rub wrinkles into your face,” Draelos said. “The skin is elastic, and when you stretch it, it bounces back.”
Even if you were to rub your face in the same way every day, it wouldn’t be enough to do damage. The only way to manually create a wrinkle is stretching the skin for a prolonged period – like when you sleep.
If you sleep on your face (or on one side of your face) regularly, you may be encouraging wrinkles. Sleeping on your back is the quickest solution, but not everyone can do that easily (myself included).
6. Bathing in milk (or drinking it) can help you have great skin.
Answer: Fact, but don’t run to the store just yet…
Milk has a soothing effect on inflamed skin, like eczema, but so do other products that aren’t as weird to bathe in as milk.
The reason milk has this soothing affect on irritation such as sunburns and rashes is because it is both moisturizing and lubricating.
But, here’s a crazy idea, you can just drink milk for the benefits, too. No need to take a full-body dip. Drinking milk contributes to good skin, but so does any diet that includes vitamin D and calcium.
On the flip side, studies have found that skim milk causes acne in teenage boys, maybe because of the hormones given to cows.
No, thank you.
7. After age 40, SPF is no longer necessary.
There is no magic age to stop using SPF! It’s crucial to protect your skin at all ages.
Sun exposure causes free radicals to act up and break down the proteins of your skin causing (you guessed it) wrinkles. These proteins are breaking down regardless as you age, so it’s even MORE important that you use SPF religiously.
Bottom line: do not give up your SPF routine.
Answer: Fact – to an extent
It’s true, a tan will let you stay out longer in the sun without getting burnt – whether that’s at the beach or in the tanning booth – but those extra rays aren’t necessarily a good thing.
“There’s nothing healthy about getting a base tan before going out in the sun,” Kauvar said. “You may not sunburn as quickly, but that doesn’t mean you’re avoiding skin damage, which will raise your risk of skin cancer and aging.”
Tanning salons have become more controversial over the years as more studies connect skin cancer and other diseases to time spent in these tanning booths.
9. If a product doesn’t work quickly, move on.
If you’re trying a new product and you’re not seeing results right away, that’s okay. Your life most likely isn’t an acne product commercial, so it’s going to take some time.
It’s suggested that you wait 8-10 weeks to really gauge if the product is working for you or not, and it might not! Not every product will work for every type of skin.
Keep at it until you find your perfect match and make sure to get your doctor or dermatologists’ point of view as well.
10. Drugstore products aren’t as good as higher-end products.
Don’t spend your money on crazy skin products because you think you have to! (If you want to and you can, go forth).
Drug store products are just as effective as some fancier skin products that claim to do the same things for your complexion…at a much more reasonable price tag.
To get the most bang for your buck, go for drugstore products with pumps. They have the most airtight design to keep products fresh for longer and they keep your hands (and the oils on them) away from your pores.