Taking care of our skin involves more than just finding the right skincare products. The way we do our skincare routine is equally important.
But there are tons of myths about skin so widely spread that many of us may have thought of them as true. Not identifying these inaccuracies — and correcting them — could compromise our entire skincare routine.
So we’re here to discuss 11 widely known misconceptions about skincare and learn why you shouldn’t believe them as supported by scientific research and skin experts.
11 Myths About Skincare Debunked Today
1. Exfoliating is Always Necessary
There’s a plethora of skincare tips and guides that tell us exfoliating is a necessary part of a skincare routine. But, in a scientific sense, that’s not exactly true.
Dermatologists say exfoliating is not necessary, especially for younger people.
The topmost layer of the skin comprises layers of dead skin cells that go through a turnover cycle usually completed in about 28 days. This is the skin’s natural process of exfoliation, which could take as long as 45 days as people get older.
That said, skin experts don’t categorize exfoliating as something we should not do. So you don’t have to avoid it altogether, especially if your skin needs a little boost because of aging.
But the leading advice for those who opt to exfoliate is to avoid overdoing it. Many skincare experts advise only doing it two to three times a week, exfoliating gently, and always following it up with a moisturizer.
2. Dirt Causes Acne Breakouts
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the skin, particularly about what causes acne. But it’s false to blame dirt for having pimples or to think that having a clean face helps to avoid acne entirely.
If it’s not dirt, then what causes acne? The main culprits are the excess production of sebum, oil, and dead skin cells clogging the follicles, bacteria, and inflammation.
The appearance of blackheads, however, may be one of the reasons that dirt gets blamed for acne.
Trapped oil, hair, or dead skin cells in the follicles could plug the pore and create white bumps that we call whiteheads. But once the skin over the bumps opens and the clogged follicles are exposed to air, it darkens and becomes blackheads.
Clogged follicles could also lead to inflammation and bacterial infection, which produces the red lumps we know as pimples.
3. No Chocolates, No Acne
Many studies have been conducted over the years to find a link between chocolate consumption and acne breakouts.
But they were mostly inconclusive on whether or not chocolates directly cause acne. One of the reasons, as researchers noted, is that chocolate bars have added ingredients like milk and sugar.
As it stands, evidence that supports chocolate can cause acne is quite lacking. That means there is no guarantee not eating chocolate helps to avoid an acne breakout.
4. Avoid Sun Exposure at All Costs
Excessive exposure to sunlight and UV rays can cause premature skin aging (photoaging), which may lead to more serious skin-related diseases. But avoiding sunlight can also be disadvantageous, as it’s commonly linked to higher risks of seasonal mood disorders.
A safe amount of sunlight may improve the production of vitamin D in the skin, which may help in bone growth and boost the immune system.
The truth for many is that we can’t completely avoid sun exposure our entire life. But there are ways to spend time outside safely while the sun is out.
Sunscreen is a must for any skincare routine. Experts recommend using sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and broad-spectrum protection.
The CDC says UV rays can be at their harshest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it may be best to avoid sun exposure at these hours. If going outside is unavoidable, using an umbrella or getting shade under a tree may help lessen its adverse effects.
5. Drinking Water Can Improve Dry Skin
Drinking enough water can benefit our entire body, which may also positively affect the skin. But there is no evidence saying that staying hydrated may directly help improve dry skin.
External factors, such as excessive scrubbing, prolonged warm baths or showers, harsh soaps, and climate, usually cause this common skin condition. In that sense, we may achieve more by adjusting our skincare practices to address dry skin.
Using moisturizers may help more with dry skin, and opting for soaps and cleansers with a gentle formula. As for bathing, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using warm (not hot) water and limiting the shower time to 5-10 minutes.
6. Always Go for 'Natural' and ‘Organic’ Skincare Products
One of the recent trends in the skincare industry is going all-natural or organic. But choosing products labeled as such isn’t always the better choice.
While the FDA regulates skincare products and their branding, it currently doesn’t have a definition for the term “organic” when it comes to cosmetics. So it might quickly become a gray area when manufacturers market their products as organic.
Labeling the ingredients in skincare products as natural may not give us the complete picture of how they can affect our skin or if it’s safer.
The FDA also noted that some naturally-sourced ingredients could trigger allergic reactions, and a number of “natural” elements may even be toxic.
So instead of looking for natural or organic skincare products, go for clean beauty. Clean Beauty means the product is non-toxic or contains no toxic materials.
It’s not afraid to use synthetic ingredients or preservatives that will also benefit the formula. Meanwhile, natural skincare products can still contain toxins.
7. Vitamin E Helps Remove Scars
While vitamin E is a popular skincare ingredient, there’s not enough evidence to say it may help reduce the appearance of scars.
Vitamin E’s perceived benefits in managing scars have been researched for years. But scientists have yet to find conclusive proof that it helps in this particular skincare purpose.
An earlier study from 1999 even found that applying topical vitamin E “actually worsened” the appearance of scars and may have led to contact dermatitis in some patients.
8. Antibacterial soaps Work Better Than Regular Cleansers
Despite “antibacterial” being a catchy label, thinking that soaps marketed as such are the better option is largely a misconception.
Dermatologists have noted that it’s important to maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in our skin. But the formula and ingredients used in antibacterial soaps could be harsher and may lead to dry skin.
Claims that over-the-counter soaps marketed with antibacterial properties may reduce the risks of catching illnesses are also hardly supported by science. In 2016, the FDA even announced that OTC antibacterial soaps couldn’t be marketed as such anymore.
The FDA’s ruling came after manufacturers were unable to provide enough evidence that supports the safety and efficacy of active ingredients, including triclosan and triclocarban, used in OTC antibacterial soaps.
9. High-End Creams Stop Skin Aging
Creams and other skincare products with anti-aging claims are often expensive. Some can even cost hundreds to thousands of dollars in a single purchase. But the truth is, you can’t stop the skin from aging.
Skin experts have also pointed out that higher cost doesn’t always guarantee better results. They add that more affordable moisturizers, creams, and serums with active ingredients can be as beneficial as the expensive options.
The Skin Cancer Foundation also says that 90% of noticeable changes to the skin, like wrinkles and fine lines, are due to sun exposure. So while the skin can’t be young forever, regular sunscreen use may help slow down signs of skin aging.
10. Wounds Left Will Heal Faster
No, a wound doesn’t need air “to breathe.” It’s actually the opposite because wounds need moisture, especially in the earlier part of the healing process.
After washing a fresh wound and patting it dry, health experts advise applying petroleum jelly before covering it with an adhesive bandage or gauze. Covering a wound may also reduce its exposure to dirt, debris, and germs.
Research also found that moist wound treatment tends to reduce inflammation and the development of scars.
11. Spray Tans Can Help Avoid Sunburns
Unless spray tans, or any skincare product for that matter, contain SPF, they don’t provide protection from sunburn or harmful UV rays.
Using tanning products aims to achieve your desired fresh-off-the-beach look while skipping sun exposure. But these products are hardly alternatives to broad-spectrum sunscreens with higher SPF when it comes to sun protection.
Skincare Myths Debunked
Skincare is a never-ending journey, and we’re likely to go through plenty of trial and error as the condition of our skin changes over time.
With so much online information readily available, facts about skincare can easily be mixed with old and new myths about skin. Building the best skincare routine suitable for our needs may get more challenging.
Hopefully, by debunking some of the most common misconceptions about skincare, such an important task will become easier.