Setting the record straight on 6 skincare myths
Who doesn’t want glowing, clear skin? But skin health is about much more than just looking great. The skin is the largest organ in your body. When it comes to caring for it, many people still follow outdated practices and believe false information floating around on the internet. We’re serving up some cold, hard truths behind some of the most common skincare myths.
1. Pores can open and close
When it comes to getting a facial or using steam heat, there’s a lot of conversation surrounding “opening your pores” or “letting your skin breathe.” The truth is that pores do not open and close but can dilate when they are clogged with sebum or oil. They simply appear oversized or larger when the skin is oily. It’s also worth mentioning that despite what a product may claim, pores cannot be made any smaller.
2. Dark skin requires less sunscreen
Although people with darker skin tend to sunburn less quickly, dermatologists and skincare experts recommend that people of all skin tones stick to using SPF 30 or higher. Dark skin can still burn and get skin cancer, despite popular lore. In fact, one recent study out of the University of Cincinnati claims that people with darker skin are actually more likely to die from skin cancer than those with lighter skin.
3. Adult acne is different than teen acne
Much like teenage acne, adult acne is most commonly triggered by hormone changes—which explains why the adults who suffer from it the most tend to be women. Many women find themselves resembling their teenage selves again when they are pregnant, postpartum, or menopausal. Because teenagers have a faster turnover for their skin, they tend to clear blemishes more quickly.
4. Moisturizer isn’t necessary for oily skin
Those with naturally greasy or oily skin are often reluctant to apply moisture for fear of causing acne or moisture overload. The truth is that every type of skin benefits from a regular moisture regimen. Sometimes skin produces more oil or sebum in an attempt to overcompensate for lacking oil production. Using a moisturizer regularly will help get its level back on track. People with oily skin, however, might benefit from using a lighter moisturizer instead of one that’s on the creamier side.
5. Always shave against the grain
Shaving against the grain might give you the feeling of a closer shave, but it can also result in more ingrown hairs and damaged hair follicles. In many areas of the body—particularly the neck and face—hair grows in all directions, but when possible, it’s best to shave in the same direction that the hair grows. Not sure how to tell which direction hair is growing in? Try using a magnifying mirror or simply use your fingers to feel which way the hair feels the smoothest, as opposed to more coarse. You can also ditch razors altogether and switch over to laser hair removal, in which case, you'll never have to worry about the direction of hair growth ever again.
6. Tight or tingling skin means the product is working
The feeling of tight or tingling skin might indicate that your skin is reacting to a product that you’ve applied, but it doesn’t say much about whether or not the product is doing you any good. In fact, for many people, this sensation might mean that the product is too powerful for them, and they should try something made specifically for sensitive skin. This feeling might also indicate that your skin has been stripped of important natural oils.
With so much information out there, it can be hard to know how to take care of your skin best. When in doubt, turn to science.
Blair Smith is a lifestyle and beauty writer who currently resides (and will likely stay forever) in Brooklyn, New York.