Google a skincare concern and you’re bound to come across hoards of conflicting information.
Unfortunately, a lack of straightforward, clear and – most importantly – truthful advice means that there’s an endless amount of skincare myths floating around.
So we asked Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic, to clear up the truth behind these common beauty fables…
MYTH 1: Using hot water opens up your pores
MYTH 2: There’s no such thing as washing your face ‘too much’
TRUTH: ‘Over-washing can lead to dryness, sensitivity and irritation, so we need to be sensible about cleansing. The ideal cleanser should be sulphate-free to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils, and it’s important not to rub the skin too harshly.’
MYTH 3: Makeup with SPF included in the formula is just as effective as a separate SPF
TRUTH: ‘SPF in sunscreens refers to UVB protection, whereas the star system on products refers to UVA protection. Relying on getting both solely from our makeup means that we may not be getting adequate sun protection. Adequate protection would also require the makeup to be reapplied throughout the day, as sunscreen is, which is often not the case.’
MYTH 4: You don’t need to use anti-ageing products until you’re in your thirties
TRUTH: ‘Anti-ageing products, particularly those with antioxidants, can be used as early as age 21 and the earlier you start, the better. However, it is incredibly important to use anti-ageing products that are appropriate for your skin type. Products with potent active ingredients such as retinol can begin being added to your regimen in your mid to late 20s.’
MYTH 5: Your skin can become immune to skincare ingredients if you always use the same products
TRUTH: ‘It’s very unusual for your skin to “get used to” the beneficial effects of skin-care products. When active ingredients in your products are giving you the desired results and improvement, there’s no reason for them to stop giving you the same result unless the condition you’re treating changes. While your skin won’t “get used to” certain products necessarily, it can get accustomed to and eventually accommodate some of the potentially irritating ingredients, like glycolic acid and retinol.’
MYTH 6: Botox prevents wrinkles permanently
MYTH 7: Applying a high SPF once means you can stay in the sun for a long time
TRUTH: ‘Theoretically, a higher SPF increases the amount of time you can stay in the sun and be protected. For example, SPF30 means you can stay in the sun 30 times longer than you would when not wearing a sunscreen without getting sunburnt. SPF 50 means your skin is protected 50 times longer than it would be without a sunscreen.
‘However, you still need to reapply regularly as sunscreen with a high SPF wears off as well. SPF is only one feature of a sunscreen and there are other important factors to be taken into account; predominantly the level of UVA protection, which can differ. This will also depend on factors such as your skin type and whether you’ve been in the water.’
MYTH 8: You should use the same skincare products for day and night
TRUTH: ‘During the day, your skin is in ‘protect’ mode, and you should help it on its way with products that offer defence from free radical damage and sunlight. Always wear sunscreen or skincare products that provide SPF protection.
‘At night, your skin is no longer defending itself from pollution or light, and so night time products tend to be more regenerative and contain restorative ingredients such as peptides and vitamins.
‘There are some elements of skincare which should only be applied at night, such as retinol, as it encourages skin cell turnover and makes the skin delicate, meaning it should not be exposed to the sun.’
MYTH 9: People with dry skin age faster
TRUTH: ‘The main cause of ageing skin is predominantly sun exposure, followed by things such as smoking and pollution. Over time, such exposure breaks down collagen fibres which keep the skin looking youthful and plump. Therefore, dry skin does not cause wrinkles or ageing, however it can emphasise them.’
MYTH 10: Cucumbers and cold spoons help to de-puff your eyes for good
TRUTH: ‘If puffiness is accompanied by slight irritation, home remedies like putting slices of cucumber on your eyes can provide some relief, due to their cooling properties. However, this is a temporary home remedy and will not have a long-term impact.’
MYTH 11: Toothpaste helps to treat spots
TRUTH: ‘Certain ingredients found in toothpaste, such as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, menthol, essential oils, triclosan have drying properties. However, there are no ingredients in toothpaste that make this method more effective than conventional treatments and over-drying and even burning can occur on skin from applying it to pimples.
‘Toothpaste will irritate the skin, and the pimple will probably eventually disappear along with the irritation, but toothpaste is in no way a primary treatment for acne. Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are much better options.’
MYTH 12: Junk food is the main cause of breakouts
TRUTH: There is evidence to suggest refined sugars and high GI (glycemic index) foods drive acne in selected individuals. However, treating diet alone will not completely clear the issue up. It is one part of a much larger puzzle.