We have all heard our grandmothers’ words of wisdom when it comes to our skin, and the same beauty advice is then passed down from generation to generation. We have followed them like the gospel, and never have we once questioned their veracity. Perhaps it’s time for us to relook some of the beauty advice we have been given. Well-intended as they may be, some just lack the science to back it up.
As it turns out, many habitual actions and beliefs for sustaining a perfect appearance are actually unnecessary. Moreover, many of them not only waste our time and money but also damage our looks in the long run. Let us help you figure out if your beauty beliefs are doing your skin more harm than good.
Myth #1: Wearing makeup every day is bad for your skin.
While wearing tons of makeup can feel cumbersome for the skin on your face, wearing makeup consistently won’t actually make your skin worse.
Caveat: It’s not makeup itself, but instead, the act of neglecting to remove it properly before going to bed that harms the skin. Granted, a day with no makeup feels great, but the real culprit of skin damage is not consistently washing your makeup off (this means leaving makeup on overnight).
The skin should have an opportunity to breathe and oxygenate every day, thus the importance of cleansing your face every night. In the daytime, modern cosmetics contain UV filters, moisturizing and protective properties that are useful since they can protect the skin from the aggressive impact of the environment.
Myth #2: Facial Oils will clog skin
I’ve heard this one many times before, especially since we live in a tropical climate. It was unheard of in the old days to apply oil on your skin. In fact, during our pimply adolescent years, many of us were taught that oil is the enemy. But, it turns out that the “evils of oil,” are complete mythology.
Oil-based products are actually important staples in a complete skin-care routine. First thing we need to know about oils—not all oils are created equal. For instance, grapeseed oil has anti-inflammatory properties, contains high levels of linoleic acid, and doesn’t clog pores therefore it is a commonly used moisturizer for acne-prone and sensitive skin!
Oil as we know it isn’t the same as it used to be. Advances in the ability to refine oil have led to cosmetic-grade oils that have the consistency of water. In the old days, facial oils used to be thick and comedogenic, like mineral oil, nowadays, new age oils are very emollient yet penetrate so quickly they don’t leave any residue on the skin. So if you have not liked any of facial oils you’ve used in the past, it’s because you haven’t found the right one yet.
Secondly, certain vital vitamins and nutrients are themselves oil-based such as Vitamin A and E, so they are found naturally in many plant based oils. Antioxidants, found in grape skins, rose oils, and acai or goji berries, help block those damaging molecules. Try looking for marula oil, a product often touted as the holy grail of anti-aging oils.
Oil-based products actually require less preservatives than water-based products and are less like to turn bad or dry out with improper storage. But, don’t oils still cause breakouts? I hear the common refrain. Some oils such as Squalane is pretty non-comedogenic which means it can be safely used on acne prone skins. It is also a myth that you have to dry out your skin to treat your acne. How many times have we seen acne skin looking red, dry and irritated from the overuse of anti-acne topicals? It is important to realise that dehydrated skin not only looks bad, it also heals slower.
Myth #3: If there’s a “hypoallergenic” sign on a cosmetic bottle, the product will suit any skin type.
“Hypoallergenic” cosmetic products lack only the most wide-spread allergenic ingredients such as alcohol, for example. However, the only ingredient that any skin has no reaction to is distilled water. That’s why it’s important to remember to learn carefully the content of even the most harmless products before buying them. Cosmetics based on natural ingredients aren’t necessarily better nor are they for everyone.
Myth #4: Moisturizing creams don’t prevent wrinkles.
In fact, today many moisturizing creams fight the appearance of wrinkles. The main thing to keep in mind is that there should be UV filters and vitamins containing antioxidants in the composition of the cream that you use.
The whole premise behind wrinkles is that dry, dehydrated skin will crinkle up and show lines faster and deeper than hydrated skin, which will stay plump and taut. Think what dehydrated grapes — a.k.a. raisins — look like. Moisturizers, of course, stop dryness in its tracks and lock in moisture. As an added bonus for a youthful look, new age moisturizsers offer antioxidants, which are repairing. They slow down aging and neutralize free radicals. To break it down, free radicals are ions that destroy proteins and collagen in the skin — two necessities to maintaining firmness and elasticity.
Myth #5: Cream should be applied to the face working upward.
Many people are sure that there are special rules for applying creams to the face and that circular motions from the bottom of the face to the top will enhance the effect of the cream. In fact, there are some rules on how to apply face creams but these hand motions don’t make much sense. This is because the time spent on applying the face creams are minimal. As long as you slather on enough product and spread it around your skin effectively, there really isn’t any special strokes that will make a considerable difference to your skin. One area of note however is the eye area. As the peri-orbital skin is very delicate, it makes sense to be extra gentle in that area. Light circular motions around the eyes will work best to get your eye serums well-absorbed into the skin and stimulate lymphatic flow in the region.
Myth #6: One should drink a lot of water to prevent wrinkles.
The myth that water consumed regularly and in large amounts slows the skin’s aging process is very popular but, unfortunately, it doesn’t have any justification. As a rule, the cells of the upper layer of the epidermis are already dead, therefore, they don’t absorb moisture from the inside. Of course, the other extreme of not drinking any water can also harm your body. As long as you are getting adequate fluids however, any more water will make you visit the toilet more often but may not translate into well-hydrated skin.
Myth #7: If you perform face gymnastics regularly, you can get rid of facial wrinkles.
The face is the only part of the body where muscles are attached directly to the skin. Constant stretching and exercises don’t contribute to smoothing existing wrinkles. In fact, overactive muscles from a hyper-expressive face may have the opposite effect of creating more lines and wrinkles due to repetitive stretching of the skin. This is in fact the mechanism of action of BOTOX which helps to reduce all these micro-expressive movements that leads to facial skin creasing.
Read More: 5 Habits That Are Giving You Bad Skin
Myth #8: It’s helpful to warm acne in the sun — this process dries acne.
Sun really dries out the skin but the skin reacts to it by secreting more oil that clogs the pores. Moreover, long exposure to the sun without protection can promote a sun damage and slow down the healing of skin, all unhelpful in acneic skin. While your pimples may be masked by a temporary tan, they will still be there, like it or not. Furthermore, some acne products such as fruit acids and retinoids can make your skin photosensitive so you may be more likely to have suffer a burn from excessive sun exposure.
Dr Low Chai Ling is the founder of SW1 Clinic, an aesthetic and plastic surgery clinic whose aim is to help people live without limits. For more information and to contact her, please visit www.SW1clinic.com