The Biggest Beauty Myths, Unraveled
Don't be fooled by these common skin, hair, and makeup misconceptions. Dermatologists explain what you really need to know.
There are a lot of cardinal rules when it comes to beauty—but most of them come down to what you should and shouldn't do to your face. We learn these guidelines from our mothers and grandmothers as teenager; many of them become entrenched in our adult beauty routines, and we then carry them over to the next generation. But there are some so-called rules—quite a few, in fact—that have been debated over time. So, we decided to go to the experts: We asked dermatologists to unravel some of the biggest beauty myths out there. Here, they set the record straight, once and for all.
Oil causes breakouts.
"No," Dr. Doris Day definitively says. "Occlusive products make you break out, and not all oils are occlusive. If you are prone to breakouts, look for products that are non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. This doesn't guarantee that you won't break out, but it does mean that testing was done on acne-prone patients with good results."
Washing your hair every day is bad for your scalp.
"If you have oily hair, or you're very active and sweat a lot, you may need to wash it every day," Dr. Day says. "It's important to use gentle shampoos—I love the Julien Farel Restore Shampoo ($39, julienfarel.com). If you have dry hair, you may need to only shampoo once or twice a week."
You can become addicted to lip balm.
"There is no real addiction to lip balm," says Dr. Debra Jaliman. "People just feel the need to reapply it since they are using it all the time. The skin around our lips is very thin and prone to damage. Licking lips makes them chapped and dry because the water evaporates off your lips and dries them out."
Preventative Botox can stop wrinkles down the line.
This is one of the only myths on this list that is actually true. "Some patients start at 25—that's a good age if you have an expressive face and lines," says Dr. Jaliman. If Botox is injected during the initial stages of fine lines, it will help to stop them in their tracks. The ideal candidate is someone who has begun to see faint lines."
Your skin needs to breathe—so don't wear makeup every day.
According to Dr. Day, "It's fine to wear makeup every day if you choose. However, it's important to fully remove makeup at the end of the day, and to do it gently so you don't strip your skin of its natural oils. I like micellar water, where you put it on a cotton pad and pat the skin to remove the makeup, rather than aggressive scrubbing."
All-natural products are always good for you.
"Everything is a chemical, even natural products," explains Dr. Day. "Poison Ivy is natural. I look for products that have science and data on safety and efficacy. There are exceptions, including companies that have great products that are mostly natural, like SkinFix."
Retinol thins skins over time.
"No, it thickens skin over time," Dr. Jaliman clarifies. "People think it thins your skin because it takes off the dead layers of skin, but retinol stimulates and builds collagen production."
Get 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a day for vitamin D.
"No!" Dr. Day says (or, rather, exclaims). "You can get vitamin D from food sources and supplements. If you're very fair, you will burn in 20 minutes. If you have more pigment in your skin, 20 minutes of exposure may not be enough time to get vitamin D. It's better to get vitamin D from other sources than the sun." Sun exposure is cumulative, she explains. "Every time you tan, you are damaging your skin in very specific and well-understood ways. That damage accumulates over time, prematurely aging the skin, causing wrinkles, discoloration, and skin cancer."
Exfoliate every day.
Absolutely not, says Dr. Day. "Over exfoliating leads to thinning of the outer layers of skin, and that can lead to excess water loss from the skin, increased sun sensitivity, and dryness."