Skin care advice is everywhere. It’s hard to escape the endless flow of “do this” and “don’t do that” skin care guidance we find online, in magazines, from advertisements or from well-meaning friends. With sometimes contradicting information, we often find ourselves in the dark on what is truly fact versus what is just plain fiction. With the help of Lexli founder and board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ahmed Abdullah, allow us to shed some light on common skin care myths, some of which just might surprise you:
Skin Care Myth #1: You don’t need sunscreen on a cloudy day
There’s never a “sunless” day, even when you can’t see the sun. To that point, while you may be able to go outdoors without getting a tan or burning, don’t be mistaken by thinking nothing is happening. The sun causes “photoaging,” the technical term for premature skin aging due to UV rays, and it doesn’t take much exposure to put the process into motion. Just an hour of unprotected skin exposure here and there can add up over the years, resulting in wrinkles, sagging and thickening of skin, and more. Preserve your skin by wearing protective clothing, staying out of the sun from 10 am to 3 pm (the sun’s most powerful hours) and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day.
Skin Care Myth #2: Age spots are a normal part of aging
On that topic, let’s talk about age spots. While some individuals have a genetic predisposition to developing these small areas of darkened skin pigment (hyperpigmentation), they are generally caused by sun exposure. This is why they're most often found on sun-exposed areas, including the scalp, forehead, shoulders and hands.
Skin Care Myth #3: Your skin needs the highest SPF available
Consider this: A sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 protects your skin from 93% of UV rays, while SPF 30 protects against 97-98%. Sunscreens beyond SPF 30 provide minimal increase in protection. Between SPF 30 and SPF 60, there is only a .1% increase in protection. This is why professionals typically recommend the use of SPF 30. Sunscreens with higher SPF only hurt your wallet; they don’t further protect your skin.
Skin Care Myth #4: For best results, you should use a gentle exfoliator
While many products are marketed as offering “gentle exfoliation,” by its very nature, true exfoliation cannot happen through a gentle process. Exfoliation requires force or strong acid to remove dead and damaged skin cells and encourage the stimulation of collagen. Although rubbing the skin with “granules” or “microspheres” may give a temporary polished feel to the skin, it will not provide the necessary force to slough dead skin cells and boost collagen production. (And may even damage skin, depending on the ingredients!) Instead, turn to a chemical peel, such as a glycolic acid exfoliator, which loosens the intercellular glue that holds dead skin cells together, thereby allowing them to be removed.
Skin Care Myth #4: Pulling on your skin causes wrinkles
Most wrinkles are caused by a combination of genetics, sun exposure and lifestyle factors, such as smoking or living in an area with high air pollution. Others are caused by repetitive muscle contractions, such as those that appear between the eyes and smile lines around the mouth. Simply pulling on your skin when applying makeup is generally not a force that is strong or consistent enough to create a wrinkle.
Skin Care Myth #5: Pores can be shrunk
Pore size is predominantly determined by skin type, genetics and sun exposure. Those with oily skin naturally have larger pores than other skin types. Meanwhile, excess sun exposure breaks down collagen, which gives skin its support. With less collagen, the pore's natural structure because loose and appears larger. When pores are enlarged, they become more likely to trap dead skin cells and sebum, which only makes them appear more visible.
While it isn’t possible to literally shrink your pores using products available at home, you can minimize their appearance through proper skin cleansing, regular exfoliation and consistent use of sunscreen. Professional treatments, such as facials with extractions, can also be beneficial.
Skin Care Myth #6: Oily skin types don’t need moisturizer
Not true. Like all other skin types, those with oily skin definitely need to use a moisturizer; just make sure it's a formulation appropriate for your skin. That means avoiding heavy formulations and instead using a lightweight moisturizer for oily skin in gel or serum form that won't clog pores.
Regardless of your skin type, moisturizers are needed to help prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL), a process whereby the skin loses moisture to the surrounding air through evaporation. TEWL leads to skin dehydration, which causes those with oily skin to become even oilier.
We’d love to hear your favorite skin care myths! We invite you to share them with us in the comments.