The truth behind 12 common beauty myths
Separating the beauty facts from fiction.
It’s almost impossible to go through life without hearing (and possibly secretly believing) one or more beauty myths. You know the drill, you’re chatting with a friend about how to treat pimples and your friend tells you they heard from a friend of a friend that their older sister said pimples are entirely caused by eating chocolate and the only pimple remedy that works is toothpaste applied directly to the offending spot.
Or, you’re scrolling through social and see an A-list celebrity with flawless skin has posted that their wrinkle-free face is entirely due to genetics and never really smiling (because smiling causes major ageing wrinkles, didn’t you know?). No, you probably didn’t know, because it’s a myth. Read on as we debunk the most common beauty myths.
Myth #1: Toothpaste fixes pimples
No one loves it when an angry red pimple raises its head and it often has us scrabbling for a DIY quick-fix remedy, such as the rumoured toothpaste pimple remedy. However, according to Heathline, toothpaste could actually be more harmful than helpful to your skin. While there may be some ingredients commonly found in toothpaste that could in theory dry the pimple out, it’s formulated for your teeth not your skin and is also formulated with chemicals that may irritate or harm your skin.
For acne, try: Mukti Balancing Cleansing Gel and/or Grown Alchemist Blemish Treatment Gel: Salix-Alba and Boswellia. For your teeth (and only for your teeth), try: Lovebyt Peppermint Botanical Toothpaste.
Myth #2: Eating chocolate and junk food causes acne
We’ve all heard the beauty myth about chocolate and greasy junk food showing up as “evidence” on our face in the form of acne. Not true according to Anne Arundel Dermatology, “Chocolate, French fries and other junk food have little to no effect on acne. There is no scientific evidence that these foods cause acne…” The real culprit? According to Harvard Health Publishing, an oily substance made and secreted by the skin called sebum is actually the cause of acne.
However, while acne may not be caused by chocolate (phew!), not taking care of your skin from the outside will lead to breakouts, so a good skincare regimen suited to your specific skin type is essential. Read our guide to choosing the right face cream for your skin type, here.
Myth #3: You should exfoliate every day
Extremely exfoliated skin equals good skin, right? Wrong. “Exfoliating every day can strip the skin of its natural oils, which can cause breakouts," A-list facialist Joanna Vargas told Glamour. Instead, opt to exfoliate once or twice a week to slough off impurities and dead skin cells.
Myth #4: If you have dry skin you need to drink more water
Sure, adding extra glasses of water into your daily liquid intake is always a good idea to stay hydrated, but according to New York dermatologist Dr Howard Sobel speaking to Forbes lack of water is not the underlying reason for dry skin. “There is no evidence that drinking more or less water is helpful or harmful to your skin. While drinking more water can be beneficial for other health conditions, water does not automatically get absorbed by your skin when you drink it… The way to keep your skin hydrated is to avoid dry air, use a gentle cleanser, use a moisturizer [sic] daily or ingredients that help keep moisture locked into your skin barrier, like hyaluronic acid.”
Myth #5: You don’t need products targeted to your specific skin type
Would you buy a one-size-fits-all pair of jeans? Unlikely. Because one-size-fits-all is code for one-size-fits-no-one. The same applies to skincare products. We all have different skin types and concerns from oily skin to dry skin to breakouts to ageing to dark spots and our skincare line-up should feature products that are specifically targeted to our skin type and concerns.
Myth #6: Shaving will make your hair grow back thicker and darker
This beauty myth has been around for ever but it’s just that, a myth. Dr Lawrence E. Gibson on the Mayo Clinic website firmly debunks this myth writing, “…shaving hair doesn’t change its thickness, color [sic] or rate of growth. Shaving facial or body hair gives the hair a blunt tip. The tip might feel coarse or ‘stubbly’ for a time as it grows out. During this phase, the hair might be more noticeable and perhaps darker or thicker—but it’s not.”
Looking for a soothing shave product? Try Saya Shave Lotion.
Myth #7: Wrinkles are caused by smiling and genetics
“When it comes to wrinkles, there are other much more impactful factors than genetics at play. For instance, up to 90 percent of visible skin changes are a result of damage from the sun, called photo damage,” Penn Plastic Surgery’s Ivona Percec says per Penn Medicine. So, don’t give up on smiling or talking to your parents as soon as a few wrinkles make their appearance.
According to Penn Medicine, taking care of your skin may help slow down the skin ageing and wrinkle-forming process. They suggest the following: wear SPF every day and reapply it every two hours; use moisturiser; use skincare products formulated with antioxidants; avoid skincare products that cause inflammation; and adapt your skincare routine for seasonal changes.
Myth #8: Washing your hair regularly causes dry hair and dandruff
While washing your hair with products that irritate your scalp won’t do you any favours, according to Self, washing your hair is not the cause of dandruff and regularly washing your hair can actually help by rinsing away dandruff flakes.
As for regular washing causing dry and damaged hair? If you’re using a shampoo and conditioner specifically targeted to your hair type and without harsh chemicals, washing your hair as often as your hair requires it will keep it in shiny, healthy condition. If you don’t regularly wash it, that could actually cause damage from a build-up of dead skin cells and product residue.
Myth #9: Sunscreen is only for summer and only sunny days
This one is categorically untrue and has the potential to cause very serious skin health issues (such as skin cancer) for anyone who believes it. Medical News Today reports that “anytime the body is exposed to light from the sun, it is exposed to UV rays, even if it is an overcast day.” And we know that UV rays are the cause of sunburn and also skin cancer. So, apply SPF every day and during every season.
Myth #10: You only need to put sunscreen on your face and only once a day
The same rules apply to this myth as the above sunscreen myth. Anywhere that light hits you is fair game for UV rays. Even if you’re covered up with head-to-toe clothing, your hands, neck and ears are likely to be exposed and the sun doesn’t play favourites when it comes to body parts, everything is a target. Also, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours when you’re outdoors and directly after swimming.
Myth #11: Self-tanner will make your skin turn orange
A vibrant orange hue may have been the self-tan calling card from the olden days back when self-tanner first launched, but it is no longer the case. There are multiple options for a variety of glowing outcomes. The hue choice is yours, but orange is not one of them.
Myth #12: Not regularly showering is fine because your skin will clean itself
This beauty myth is pretty out there but has a surprising number of believers. But, when you think about, despite the many clever things our skin does, cleaning itself is not one of them. Showering (or taking a bath) using a body wash or soap is the only way to clean your skin. Follow with a body lotion to keep your skin in tip-top condition.