When it comes to skin care, despite all the useful information in the public domain you may at times also hear an abundance of misinformation, incorrect assumptions, and old wives’ tales. In this post we will put right the 10 biggest myths about skin care.
10 Skin Care Myths
1. Skin Myth: Eating oily food causes acne
There is no real evidence to support a connection with acne and oily or greasy food. If you believe that eating oily, greasy or sugary food causes acne then you are likely misinformed about what acne actually is.
Acne is caused by a combination of our skin cells, sebum (oil), hair and bacteria clumping together and blocking the hair follicle. The bacteria can eventually lead to inflammation in the form of spots and pimples.
Oily food does not contribute to the production of sebum, nor does it influence the sebum, skin cells, hair and bacteria clumping together in our follicles. Consequently you can be confident that oily food does not cause acne.
If you are interested in more information on acne and how best to try and prevent it, then read our blog post on how to prevent acne.
2. Skin Myth: Getting a sun tan is good for you
Whilst a glowing tan can look aesthetically pleasing, there is no evidence to suggest that tanned people are healthier in any way than people who are paler. In order to put right this myth conclusively, let's consider what actually causes a tan to occur.
Tanning occurs when your body reacts to UV rays. As the rays hit your skin cells, your body tries to protect you by sending melanocytes (darker pigment producing cells) to the cells at the surface of your skin so that they can shield them against the UV rays.
The longer you are exposed to the sun's rays then the more melanocytes are released and the more tanned you look. Not everyone has the same capacity when it comes to the production of this darker pigment, and so some people tan much more easily than others.
Tanning is more a defense mechanism as opposed to a sign of advanced health. You could argue that people who tan more easily have a more effective defense against UV radiation, however it will not be enough for complete protection so make sure you apply the correct level of SPF when exposed to sunlight, regardless of your tanning capability.
The right amount of sun exposure also has benefits in that it will activate the Vitamin D in your skin, which in turn boosts immune functions, helps keep bones strong and reduces the risk of some cancers. You don't need to avoid the sun, you just need to mitigate against detrimental effects such as sunburn, premature skin aging and increased skin cancer risk.
3. Skin Myth: You don’t need sun protection unless it’s hot
This is a big misconception and one that can be costly. The damage to skin as a result of excessive sun exposure is due to UV radiation, something that is not influenced by heat.
Most of the heat you feel is due to infrared rays and thermal radiation, but given that it’s UV radiation you need to protect against, the protection is needed so long as you are in direct sunlight and regardless of heat or whether it's a cloudy day.
You should also be aware of the different types of UV radiation, namely UVA, UVB and UVC. It's predominantly UVA and UVB that you need to protect against and you can do this by ensuring the sunscreen you use is 'broad spectrum'. For more info about keeping safe in the sun take a look at our blog on SPF protection, UVA and UVB rays explained.
4. Skin Myth: Your skin type always stays the same
Not necessarily. There are 4 skin types: oily skin, dry skin, combination skin and normal skin. Each skin type has its own set of characteristics and whilst it's very unlikely that your skin type will dramatically change, there are a number of factors that do make variance possible.
Things that can influences changes in your skin type include, seasonal, hormonal and environmental factors, as well as the oil content, water content and sensitivity of your skin. So if you start to suspect that your skin type is changing, there is no need to worry because this is perfectly normal.
Do try to keep on top of what your skin type is - it will help you be able to treat and maintain your skin more effectively. For more information on this, check out our blog post what is my skin type?
5. Skin myth: Products can permanently shrink your skin pores
This is incorrect. Whilst different people can have different size pores (and men tend to have bigger pores than women), there is currently no product that can permanently change their physical structure. Any products and nearly all techniques that promise to reduce or minimize the size of your pores are a little misleading. Let us elaborate.
There are two different types of skin pores: oil pores (the opening of hair follicles) and sweat pores. Sweat pores are very small and not really visible to the naked eye, so when people and products are referring to reducing the size of pores this is usually directed at you oil pores.
Good products can help remove oil and dirt that is trapped in an oil pore, and in doing so make them less visible, but this is done by loosening the blockage and not actually reducing the size or closing the pore. Whilst the visible result may be satisfactory, the way this was done may not be what you were led to believe.
6. Skin myth: Don't moisturize oily skin
This is another common and counter-productive myth about skin care. Suffering from oily skin can be frustrating and it is tempting to want to dry out your skin to counter the excessive oil. If you have ever considered this as a tactic then don't, you will likely do more harm than good.
The role of a good moisturizer is to provide effective skin hydration, which is not the same as additional oil. People with oily skin may want to opt for a lighter moisturizer that has minimal oil content, but they should not sacrifice skin hydration altogether.
In fact, if your skin senses itself drying out, it may well produce yet more oil to compensate and so you will have totally defeated your objective of controlling your oily skin. More oil also increases the risk of acne.
In conclusion, you should absolutely still moisturize oily skin as it can actually help manage your skin's excessive oil production whilst also helping to prevent things like acne.
7. Skin myth: wash your face with hot water
Don't do this. Hot water might damage your skin by drying it out or stripping away its natural, protective barriers. In more extreme cases you may inadvertently flare up acne or even scald the skin. It’s true that steam will temporarily open up your pores, but you are better to achieve this using a hot towel or in the shower that applying hot water directly to your face.
It’s actually best to wash your face using lukewarm water. Your main objective is simply to feel comfortable while you wash your face and get all the benefits of cleansing without causing any additional problems.
8. Skin myth: Scrub Hard When You Exfoliate
Not true. It’s nearly always better to be gentle when it comes to your skin. Over exfoliating or scrubbing too hard when you exfoliate is likely to do more damage to your skin than good. You are likely to remove the protective barrier of your skin and expose it further to environmental toxins and UV rays.
Harsh exfoliation also won't help oily skin (in case you thought you could scrub away the oiliness). Your skin will notice the change and overcompensate with even more oil.
Keep exfoliation to two or three times a week and remember that it doesn’t have to be painful to be beneficial.
9. Skin myth: Rubbing Alcohol Helps Treat Acne
No it is not an effective treatment for acne. Whilst the right forms of alcohol (in the right concentration and formula) can be a beneficial part of a good skin care product, rubbing alcohol is not something you should be using. It is way too harsh and so likely to dry out and irritate your skin which (again) may lead to excess sebum oil production and therefore (again) more acne, not less.
If you are suffering from acne and want to treat it effectively, then the best route is to avoid most home remedies (including toothpaste) and opt for premium products that contain ingredients proven to help, like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Try to exercise a little patience too, if you treat it properly the acne will eventually clear up.
10. Skin myth: Your Skin Gets Used to Skin Care Products (so they stop working)
Nope, just another inaccurate myth about skin care. It's like saying your body gets used to exercise so it stops working. If something is safely proving beneficial for you, then you should keep using it if you can. Your body may indeed build a tolerance to some things, but a good skin care products will not be one of them.
Let us know if you think we have missed any key myths off this list or if there are any others that you want us to put right. Share your comments in the box below.
For access to all skin care posts, visit our main skin care for men blog page.