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
You’ve heard it from your mother, your dermatologist, your first-grade teacher, and even Baz Luhrmann: Wear sunscreen. With the wealth of knowledge we now have on sunscreen’s ability to reduce our risk of skin cancer and to protect against sun damage like wrinkles, dark spots, and sagginess, it seems wild to think that some still skip this crucial step in their daily skin care routines. But in reality, the increasingly oversaturated sunscreen market and the onslaught of information, studies, and data surrounding it can often have a detrimental effect on consumers, leaving them unsure of what to believe and whom to trust. Over the years, certain myths about sunscreen have permeated our culture, and even the wisest of skin experts have fallen victim to them. With a scorching summer already upon us, it’s more important than ever to not only debunk these misconceptions but also to understand why they’re inaccurate.
Myth #1: Sunscreen Is Not Necessary Indoors, On Cloudy Days, Or Inside A Car
“False, false, false!” says Dr. Shereene Idriss, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “Yes, clouds do reduce some of the harmful UV rays, but they don’t block them all, particularly in areas where the ozone layer is dramatically reduced.” It’s also important to realize that UV light is not alone in its ability to cause harm. Outdoors, UV light, in the forms of UVA and UVB, can impact skin aging and increase the risk of skin cancer. Some of that light can travel indoors through windows, but we’re also exposed to other types of light indoors, including visible light and blue light, which can also impact the skin. For that reason, it’s crucial that sunscreen be worn daily, and it should not be skipped just because you’re inside.
Myth #2: One Application Of Sunscreen Will Last All Day
“If you have discovered the sunscreen that lasts up to 24 hours, please let us all in on that secret!” Dr. Idriss jokes. In fact, not only will one application of sunscreen not last all day, but it will last just a couple of hours. “Most sunscreens are tested for a specific amount of time, and that’s on average two hours,” explains Dr. Caroline Robinson, a Chicago-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of TONE Dermatology. “After two hours, the SPF protection goes down significantly, so you do need to reapply to maintain that initial level of protection.” If you are in the sun, reapplication every two hours is imperative, but if you’re mostly indoors, you can be slightly more lenient in reapplying so long as you apply before stepping outside again. “I tell people to bring a sunscreen brush, like ISDIN’s, with them wherever they go and quickly apply that to their arms and face and any exposed skin before going back outside,” Dr. Robinson notes.
Myth #3: The Higher The SPF, The Better The Protection
While this is not totally true, there is some logic behind the belief. “The SPF number does not reflect the duration of efficacy of the sunscreen; it indicates how long it would take for your skin to redden when using the product,” Dr. Idriss says. “So, for example, if you are using an SPF of 30, it would take 30 times longer for you to burn while using the sunscreen versus if you didn’t use it all.” There is also proof that the higher the SPF, the more protected you will be—but only to a certain point. “SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB, whereas SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%,” the New York dermatologist explains. “This may seem like a negligible gain in protection, but if you are prone to sunburns or skin cancers, that little gain can make a world of a difference.”
Once you go above SPF 50, though, the difference in protection is quite small. Dr. Robinson says a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen is required to cover the whole face and about a shot-glass full is necessary to cover the whole body. “But if you know that you’re not going to follow those recommended amounts—and most don’t—then you can actually benefit from a higher SPF,” she advises. “In doing so, you can get a similar protection to an SPF 30, which is what those measurements are based on, but you can get it with less than the nickel- and shot-glass-sized amounts.” Essentially, it will be more thinly spread than the recommended amounts would, but because it’s a higher SPF, it will be roughly as powerful.
Myth #4: People With Darker Skin Tones Don’t Need To Wear Sunscreen
“This is a misconception I’ve been fighting for a very long time,” says Dr. Robinson. “While people with darker skin tones are indeed less likely to burn, they aren’t immune from sun damage, and oftentimes, it will develop in the form of hyperpigmentation—potentially even more dramatically than sun damage would manifest on lighter skin tones.” Additionally, certain conditions, including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots that result from acne or irritation to the skin) and melasma, can be worsened by sun exposure, especially in people of color. So, even if your sun damage doesn’t come in the form of the traditional sunburn or freckles, it’s still important to wear sunscreen in order to protect your skin from other damage.
Myth #5: If You’re Not Prone To Burning, You Don’t Need To Wear Sunscreen
Much like the belief that those with darker skin tones don’t need sunscreen, there’s a misconception that if you don’t burn, you similarly don’t need SPF. “There’s this idea that just because you tan, you’re fine, but tanning can actually be a system of sun damage,” Dr. Robinson explains. “You can have enough exposure to the point where you no longer burn; your skin just goes straight to tan, and that’s not a good thing.” Immediate tanning can be an indication that your skin has skipped the warning response of burning entirely, and that’s actually a sign that your skin is damaged.
Myth #6: If You Wear Sunscreen, You Won’t Get A Tan
Many refrain from wearing sunscreen because they claim it will keep them from achieving that oh-so-coveted sun-kissed glow. But, as Dr. Idriss says, this is once again false. “Sunscreen makes your skin slower to react to UV rays,” she notes, “but it doesn’t prevent it from reacting altogether.” You can definitely still get a tan while safely protecting your skin with sunscreen.
Myth #7: Wearing Makeup That Has SPF In It Is Enough
Absolutely not! “Most makeups that include an SPF are not tested to the extent that sunscreens are, especially compared to the sunscreens that carry extra credentials, like an endorsement from the Skin Cancer Foundation, or anything like that,” Dr. Robinson explains. In order to reap the full benefits of the SPF listed on your makeup, you would need to use a hefty amount, up to the size of a nickel, and unless you’re a Kardashian, you’re probably not equipped to wear that much makeup. You also likely won’t be putting makeup on your ears, neck, chest, or any of the many regions of the body that are not the face but are equally susceptible to sun damage, and you won’t be reapplying makeup every two hours as you would sunscreen.
Myth #8: Spray Or Powder Sunscreen Is Just As Effective As Lotion
As new agents of delivery have come to the sunscreen market over the years, they’ve often appeared to be solutions to the stickiness and getting-it-in-your-eye tendency of traditional lotion, and while that can be true, spray and powder sunscreens can also have their shortcomings. “They can definitely be as effective, but a lot more needs to be applied in order to reach the same level of effectiveness,” says Dr. Idriss. Unlike lotion sunscreens, applying a spray or powder means that some of its contents will not land on the actual skin, so you’ll need to as much as double the amount you’re using.
Myth #9: Sunscreen Can Lead To Cancer Or Other Health Problems
While an alarmingly common belief, the idea that sunscreen can cause cancer or any other health issue is founded in no truth. “I wish this myth would go away because it’s been disproven time and again,” Dr. Robinson says. “Sunscreen does not cause cancer, and there have been so many studies to show that, but they sadly don’t make the headlines as much.” And if you’re really worried, do as Dr. Idriss suggests and simply opt for a physical sunscreen instead of a chemical one.
Myth #10: There’s No Real Difference Between Chemical And Mineral/Physical Sunscreens
Although both types of sunscreen achieve the same goal, scientifically, they work very differently. “Mineral and physical are interchangeable terms, and the most common ingredient in those sunscreens is either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,” explains Dr. Robinson. “Those are metals, and if you think about a sheet of metal, you know that it literally just reflects light; so, physical sunscreens sit on top of skin and reflect the UV rays and scatter light.” Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, absorb the UV light and put it through a chemical reaction (their namesake comes from this) that converts the light to heat. “Because the chemical sunscreens have to first absorb the light, they take a little longer to become active, so you can’t apply them while you’re outside or even right before,” the Chicago dermatologist notes. “You have to allow at least a few minutes, which the bottle will tell you.”
Some people can be more sensitive to the ingredients in chemical sunscreens, so for babies, children, and anyone with sensitive skin, a physical sunscreen is the way to go. Historically, some consumers have shied away from physical options because they can leave more of a white film, but some recent additions to the sunscreen market have gotten around that with advanced technologies. Dr. Robinson recommends SkinBetter’s SunBetter Stick, a physical SPF 56 sunscreen which uses a new technology to uniquely shape the zinc particles so that they sit atop the skin without leaving the familiar white cast. She also loves Eryfotona Actinica from ISDIN, another physical option that uses DNA Repairsomes to repair DNA damage that can come from sun exposure, and Revision Skincare’s IntelliShade TruPhysical, which has Vitamin C in it and effectively serves as two necessary products in one.
Myth #11: If You Didn’t Wear Sunscreen When You Were Younger And Already Have Sun Damange, There’s No Point In Wearing It Now
“Although most of the damage is actually accumulated while you’re younger (typically before the age of 18), it doesn’t make you immune to worsening damage,” Dr. Idriss says. Indeed, sunscreen protects from the visible signs of aging caused by sun exposure, but it also reduces your risk of skin cancer, and that alone is reason to start or continue wearing it even if you’ve already suffered some sun damage. “I recommend you adopt a ‘never give up’ attitude,” suggests Dr. Idriss. “You only have the skin you’re in, and hopefully your life will be long, so you might as well protect and enjoy it every step of the way.”
Myth #12: Sunscreen Never Expires
Of all the myths that exist about sunscreen, the notion that it doesn’t expire might be the most outlandish. “Sunscreen is doing a lot of work, so when you’re applying it, you want to be confident that you’re getting the coverage you think you are,” Dr. Robinson explains. Like everything in life, sunscreen has an expiration date, and you can find it by looking at the back or bottom of the bottle. As for any wiggle room when it comes to that expiration, like the “five-day rule” for milk, Dr. Robinson says, “we don’t take chances with sunscreen.”
Images: Retha Ferguson / Pexels; Maciej Serafinowicz / Unsplash; Antonio Gabola / Unsplash; Taylor Simpson / Unsplash