7 Common Skin Care Myths & What The Truth Is

In a world where beauty bloggers act like they have a medical degree and influencers promote facial cleansing brushes on their Insta stories, basically anyone can call themselves a skin care expert. While it’s great that we can learn everything we need to know about toners and exfoliators from just a quick Google search, it also means that a lot of us have based our skin care routine on information that might not be accurate. Don’t panic and throw out all of your favorite beauty products just yet, though! Take a look at these busted skin care myths to get all of the facts on how to achieve the glowing skin you’ve always dreamed of.

Myth #1: Anti-Aging Products Are Only For People With Wrinkles

You might think that anti-aging products are for “older” people who have wrinkled skin. What many of those people will tell you is that they’ve had no luck getting their skin to look baby-smooth again like it once did. The truth is, once your skin has wrinkles, there’s no magic cream that can take them away permanently. The most effective way to be wrinkle-free is to start taking preventative measures when you’re young (in your 20s and 30s). That means using moisturizer and sunscreen or another SPF face lotion every day to prevent the development of dark spots and/or other signs of premature aging.

Myth #2: You Only Need Sunscreen If You’re Going To Be In Direct Sunlight

This brings us to our next point: it seems that the only time most of us remember to put on sunscreen is when we are going to the beach, or doing some kind of outdoor activity in the sunny summer months. While it is incredibly important that you use sun protection regularly when you plan to go out in direct sunlight, it’s equally as important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, regardless of how sunny or cloudy it may seem.  Especially when it comes to preserving and protecting your complexion, a daily broad-spectrum SPF is essential. Whether you realize it or not, even the smallest amount of sun exposure—whether that be through a window, sitting outside, or even through cloud cover—puts your skin at risk for negative effects from sun exposure. We know that getting a sunburn is very bad for your skin, but the sun can also penetrate the layers of your skin and cause damage deeper down, potentially leading to skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States.

Myth #3: A Set Skin Care Routine Will Work For Everyone

You may be thinking, “everyone with perfect skin is following the same skin care routine, and I need to use exactly what they use if I want to have great skin too.” Yeah, that just isn’t the case. Each person has unique skin needs based on their skin type. A person with oily skin will need to use different products to cater to their needs as opposed to someone with dry skin. The same goes for people with mature skin, or sensitive skin, and so on. Just because one product worked amazingly for one person, doesn’t mean it will have the same effects for you. Take the time to research your skin type, or visit a dermatologist to find out what your skin type is, and the best way to care for it. The good news is there are so many products available that you’re bound to find the right ones for you.

Myth #4: Once Your Skin Reaches Maturity You’ll No Longer Break Out

You’d think that once you make it past your teens, you’ll never have to deal with acne again. Sorry, but we have some bad news. As it turns out, acne doesn’t seem to magically remove itself from your existence once you turn 20. Actually, your skin doesn’t fully mature until you’re about 30 to 35 years old, and even once you’ve reached that age range, you may still find yourself dealing with those pesky zits. But why? The most probable cause of your adult acne is your hormones. Your hormones change a lot over the course of your life, but factors like birth control, menopause, and even just your menstrual cycle can cause your hormones to fluctuate and create acne on your skin. Ughhh, we can’t have any nice things.

Myth #5: A Skin Care Routine Is Only For Your Face

Finally, you’ve perfected your skin care routine and your complexion looks the best it ever has. While achieving that sought-after facial glow does qualify for a well-deserved pat on the back, you may be forgetting about the big picture: the rest of the skin on your body! 

You can’t forget to invest just as much time and energy into the skin on your body as you do for your face. Though your routine won’t be the same—our body skin is much thicker, which is why you wouldn’t use the same products on your face that you would on your body (and vice versa). TG, because facial products are expensive. 

When it comes to skin care on your body, keep it simple. Wash your skin well with a soap or shower gel to remove the daily dirt, sweat, and other sh*t that collect on your skin. Next, exfoliate your clean skin. Whether you use a dry brush or a scrub to exfoliate while in the shower, it’s important to remove dead skin cells from your body to reveal the healthy skin underneath. Finally, moisturize. Once you’ve finished cleansing and exfoliating your skin, finishing off with a moisturizer is arguably one of the most important steps, as moisturizing serves to replenish your skin barrier, helping to improve its overall tone and texture.

Myth #6: A Skin Care Routine Is Only Effective If You Use A Multitude Of Targeted Products

With the thousands of skin care products available on the market, you may think that your routine will need to consist of 10 products minimum. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that complicated (or expensive). If you want to create a perfectly effective skin care regimen, keep it limited to these three steps: cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. Cleaning your skin of makeup and dirt, exfoliating off the dead skin cells built up on your face, and moisturizing the new and healthy skin underneath is the simplest way to care for your skin on a daily basis and maintain a clean, clear, and healthy complexion. 

However, if you have any unique skin concerns—like acne, for example—you may want to consider incorporating a specialized treatment product into your skin care regimen, as this will work to effectively target and address these areas. An acne cream containing tretinoin, for instance, is great for increasing skin cell renewal, which helps to prevent acne from the inside-out. On the other hand, if you’re concerned about dryness or wrinkles, applying a serum for overnight recovery can help penetrate the skin at a deeper level for better results. 

At the most basic level, keep your skin care routine short and simple, and only incorporate more targeted treatments if and when necessary. Make sure to apply these treatments only to the particular areas of your skin that need some additional TLC.

Myth #7: “A Little Dab Will Do Ya”

Most skin care products will say to only apply a pea-sized amount of the product to your face, and this is true when using a product like an eye cream, where a little can go a long way. In reality, however, the suggested amount of product for proper use with most skin care products isn’t enough to give complete results for your skin. If you’re going to cleanse, exfoliate, or moisturize, don’t be afraid to apply a little bit extra. The lighter products like a cleanser or moisturizer can’t really hurt your skin, so if you want to get your complexion extra clean and smooth, you can add a little more than the bottle suggests. 

If you do choose to use more of a product than suggested, keep your skin type in mind. For instance, those with dry skin shouldn’t over-cleanse, as their skin will dry out easily, and for those with oily skin, there’s no need to go overboard on the moisturizer or facial oils. 

For products like a serum, a chemical exfoliator, or a targeted treatment, you’ll want to stick to the directions on the label, as these products are stronger and can cause damage to your skin if not used improperly or too frequently. 

Images: Retha Ferguson / Pexels

What Happened When I Ditched My Complicated Skin Care Routine

I first started hearing the words “skin care diet” back in January, when everyone was trying out their favorite wellness hack in honor of the new year. The premise was simple: after ODing on expensive skin care products and indulging in complicated, ten-step routines, some consumers were now deciding to scale back the time and money spent on skin care. Ironically enough, the skin care diet trend (or “minimalist skin care routine”) is also a K-Beauty trick—specifically, one invented to “decrease irritation” caused by overly complicated, multi-step routines. By paring back down to the bare minimum, the theory goes, you’ll slowly coach your skin back to life.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a trend at all if everyone’s 10-step routines were going perfectly. Vice interviewed a number of people embarking on their own skin care diets, and all affirmed that, ultimately, the fancy, active ingredient-laden products they had been so excited to buy only made things worse. For several of these skin care dieters, they only realized there was an issue after seeing a dermatologist—others realized after a change in environment, where they were temporarily separated from their skin care products, made them realize that layering on serums wasn’t the best way to control their skin.

me: skincare!
my other organs: please help us .

— sam (@smeezi) July 26, 2017

For the dermatologists Vice spoke with, this is an increasingly common occurrence. Rachael Cayce, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles, said she’ll have patients come in who list arsenals of 15+ products they’re using—daily. Cayce invariably tells them to cut back: “I see 30 patients a day and I’m having this conversation with 15 of them,” she says. “Usually what I’m doing is just decreasing their products.” KraveBeauty founder Liah Yoo agrees that this decrease is necessary. “People have been piling on so many different products that they’ve developed redness, sensitivity, and even worse—contact dermatitis,” she shares. That’s why she’s now recommending a simple routine of cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. The key? No “harsh active ingredients.”

I had my own come-to-Jesus moment a few months back, when my skin—for lack of a better term—shut down. All my special toners, moisturizers, and anti-redness gels, so lovingly applied, sat on top of my skin: refusing to sink in, and (I imagine) laughing at me. I had many theories about why this was happening, and like a devoted skin care student, I ran right to my dermatologist. This is the first and only time I’ll dermatologist bash (maybe she was having an off day!) but essentially, she told me it was all hormonal, that oil production increases as you get older (rude!), and that I should (I’m paraphrasing) chill out. Then she gave me some moisturizer samples (score) and sent me on my way.

My derm to me:

do a face mask and move on

— ?? (@romanrochelle) January 16, 2017

As anyone who’s read my articles on mental health will know, “chilling out” is not something I engage in lightly. Instead, I remembered the accounts of skin care diets that I’d read back in January (this Byrdie one and this Very Good Light one I both find a little excessive, but solid). While the accounts I read still included products like serums and essences in their scaled-back routines, I stuck with the bare-bones approach recommended by Yoo: cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. My only addition was twice-daily Finacea, a dermatologist-prescribed rosacea treatment I didn’t care to live without. Yoo also recommends that you don’t wash your face at all for a full week to “reset” your skin before starting. But in the interest of not losing my job, I opted out of that step too. Finally, most of the skin care diet plans I read about recommend not washing your face in the morning—just using a swipe of toner or micellar water.

me w/ scars,acne, oil: cleanser, toner, gel, moisturizer, topical cream
person w/ smooth clear skin: i use water sometimes soap pic.twitter.com/8KYumMwPNd

— have analis’s kids (@AK1NNA) April 4, 2017

The results? I bet you wish I had pictures, but to be honest, the biggest change wasn’t something that would show up on camera. After about a week, my face finally felt smooth to the touch again. Not sticky with stubborn moisturizer residue, not greasy with excess oil production, and not that super-pleasant roughness I’ll sometimes get in dry patches on my cheeks. In the end, I wasn’t using so many excess products I needed to cut out: I wistfully stopped using my amazing-smelling toner, I stopped cleansing and moisturizing in the morning (but still applied SPF!), and I chilled out on the drugstore masks I’d been applying three times a week.

To be honest, I was shocked that this actually made a difference—I’d been thinking of the toner as my saving grace all winter. Maybe my dermatologist was (partly) right and I’d had a hormone shift, or maybe the warmer weather was making my skin react different. Either way, I spend less time on skin care than I have in years, and tragically, it did the trick. My skin’s not suddenly a luminous, pore-less version of itself (I’m still convinced I would need Kylie-level money and a team of professionals to achieve that): but the stubborn texture problems I was having finally went away.

the first person to exfoliate their face had 2 have done it accidentally right, like tripped and face planted in the sand- wow feels smooth!

— pw (@petewentz) September 13, 2017

Like I said before: no one would be doing this if they were already reaping the benefits of a rich and full skin care routine. All the people who wrote skin care diet accounts were dealing with inflammation, flare ups, and acne that none of their products could fix—and that’s when they opted for a reset. So if you’re happy with your skin care products, please don’t throw out $400 worth of moisturizer after reading this. (Send it to me instead, for when I decide to switch things up again in a month.) If you’ve been cycling in new serums for as long as you can remember, and are still struggling with flare ups, though, a skin care diet could be exactly what you need.

Images: @smeezi ; @AK1NNA ; @romanrochelle ; @petewentz / Twitter

The Best Face Wash For Your Skin Type

Like most people in this world, I really care about my skin. Despite my horrible attempts at clean dieting and exerting energy into anything that doesn’t involve walking to the closest liquor store Starbucks, I try really hard to treat my skin like silk (@KrisJenner) by using only the best makeup removers, micellar waters, masks—you name it. Only the best for my prized feature. However, one of the hardest products to find that doesn’t make my face have a mid-life crisis is a face wash. It’s something we use everyday, so someone please tell me why it’s so hard to find one that’s just right for my skin type. *Sighs* Since I know firsthand how fucking stressful this can be, here are the best face washes based on your skin type. You can thank me later.

If You Have Oily Skin, Try…

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser

This godsend of a face wash was made just for those who struggle to keep their faces looking shine-free all day long. Not only does it thoroughly clean your face, but it also reduces excess oil without drying your face out. Ugh, bless. It leaves your skin feeling v smooth and makeup-ready without any worries of looking oily af.

Kiehl's Cleanser

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Control Foam Wash

IMO, this is seriously the best and safest brand for your skin. I have almost everything from Cetaphil and have literally never been disappointed in the results. This facial wash is super gentle on even the most sensitive skin types and removes oil, so it can also control the shine on your face. It also happens to be a fab makeup remover, too.

Cetaphil Cleanser

If You Have Dry Skin, Try…

Estée Lauder Soft Clean Moisture Rich Foaming Cleanser

Created specifically for those with super flaky skin, this moisturizing face wash adds a ton of the hydration you need while also preserving your skin’s natural moisture. Since it’s a foaming cleanser, it goes on with ease and leaves your face feeling amazingly soft afterwards.

Estee Lauder

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

This shit is formulated with five conditioners, so that’s when you know it’s luxurious af. The creamy gel cleanser soothes uneven textures, softens super dry patches, and clears up your pores ASAP. It’s like, apparently made with some sort of ingredient that’s also in contact lens solutions, so you can def use on your eyes for that mascara that doesn’t gtfo.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

If You Have Combination Skin, Try…

Clinique Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser

If you’re kind of on the dry side but somehow a bit on the oily side as well (HOW THO??), this foaming cleanser gently removes a day’s worth of grime, as well as the makeup you’ve been wearing for hours. It’s totes refreshing and makes your face feel like it can breathe again without drying it out or making you feel moist. Ew. 

Clinique Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser

Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser

Designed for all skin types, the best-selling Philosophy cleanser works well on those whose skin may be super dry and extremely sensitive, too. It’s gentle on the eyes for removing your gothic makeup and gives your pores a much-needed deep cleanse. It’s a fab toner and source of hydration, if your skin is suffering a bit come the colder seasons.

Philosophy Purity

If You Have Normal Skin, Try…

Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel

The sulfate-free cleansing gel easily cleanses clogged pores and helps prevent future breakouts. It helps your skin retain natural moisture, as well as controls oil, so you’re looking radiant in all the right ways. Plus, it reduces annoying inflamed areas and gets rid of buzzkill breakouts before you can even freak out about it.

Bosnia Purifying Cleansing Gel

Origins Checks And Balances Frothy Face Wash

This face wash is ideal for those who have an equal balance of dry *and* oily skin types (lucky, betch)—hence the name. Since it’s v gentle on the face, you can easily use just little, and it goes such a long way. It’s only an added bonus that it functions as a makeup remover and leaves a refreshingly cool sensation when you’re finished.

Origins Checks and Balances Face Wash

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