We've all heard lots of claims throughout our lives when it comes to skincare; from water will get rid of your acne, all the way to parabens cause cancer. Although both of these aren't technically a myth, they also aren't completely accurate... But I've already talked about both of those and why it's more of an exaggeration than an accurate fact, so I'm going to skip those. Instead, here are 10 common skincare myths that you have likely been told in your lifetime and possibly have told other people as well.
1. Hydrating and Moisturizing Are The Same Thing: FALSE.
I have a whole post on my Instagram about the differences, so I won't drag this one out too long. In case you haven't seen that post (rude, go look), hydration is about retaining water in your skin cells with ingredients categorized as "humectants". These humectants will commonly draw moisture from the dermis, up to the epidermis. It can also draw moisture in from your surroundings, but this is going to be a lot less common for someone who doesn't live in humid areas. If you live in a rather dry climate, the water will likely be pulled up from the dermis. Moisturizing is all about locking in that hydration (water) you just provided to your skin. In other words, you're creating a protective barrier on the top of your skin with some type of occlusive. Moisturizers do not change the water levels in your cells, useless they have hyaluronic acid or other humectants in them, they just create that barrier to lock everything in.
2. Occlusives Cause Breakouts: FALSE.
A statement like "occlusives cause breakouts" would mean that anything in the category of occlusives would cause a breakout and that's not accurate. There are some that can clog your pores, like straight up coconut oil, or heavy silicone based products that are being left on the skin. However, :, fatty alcohols, mineral oil and squalane/squalene are all perfectly fine occlusives that have low-risk for clogging pores (comedogenic). In fact, I can almost guarantee if you look at the back of your favourite moisturizers, primers and even some foundations, there will be one of the above mentioned ingredients in it. So, if we are going to talk about occlusives and their relationship with clogged pores, let's specify exact ingredients and not speak broadly.
3. Mineral Oil In Cosmetics Is In Your Cars Transmission: FALSE.
I have briefly talked about this in my Instagram post about hydrating vs moisturizing in the comments because I mentioned that mineral oil is a great occlusive that is found used to be found in products because it's cheap and effective, with low chances for clogging pores. I had someone question that, which I love because it gives me a chance to educate people, and that's exactly what I did. Whether you want to believe that claim is true or false is up to you, you can make your own choices in life, however, cosmetic grade mineral oil, being used in a reputable brands' product, that is sold in a big department store like Sephora, is highly refined. It is not the same thing that is used in your cars transmission. Friendly reminder that majority of countries have regulations and the cosmetic industry IS highly regulated. However, Becky's products she made in her kitchen at home and sold to you online are likely not regulated, and that is not who I am talking about.
4. Natural Products Are More Sustainable, Safer, Greener & Better: FALSE.
I hate to break it to every brand that is on this "clean beauty" trend, and I hate to break it to every consumer who fell for the marketing surrounding natural products and it being more sustainable, safer, greener, and/or better than a "chemical-filled" product. Natural products are actually a lot less regulated, researched and proved to be better, in fact, there's a lot of natural ingredients that can be highly irritating to some peoples skin. For example: essential oils (EOs) are commonly used in natural products to replace fragrance or parfum, and while I do not recommend any products with fragrance in it 99.95% of the times, EOs are still a masking ingredient and can cause irritation. They use them to cover the real scent of skincare which can be unpleasant and personally speaking, I know firsthand, as well as many other people who have terrible reactions when EOs are used in products (not all of them, but a lot). Here is a GREAT video from TheEcoWell (Jen - cosmetic scientist) who hosted an event in LA surrounding sustainability with 5 other scientists. It's very long, but will probably give you the most information about the lies from marketing. On top of that, natural is once again, a broad statement, and we most certainly know not everything that is natural is safe, take poison ivy for an example. This is why broad statements should not be made and if someone makes them to you, ask them to specifically tell you what they mean.
5. "My Products Are Chemical-Free / Fragrance-Free": FALSE.
Not only is that a myth, it's also a blatant lie. It is physically impossible to have a chemical-free product. Why? Because everything that is made up of matter, is a chemical. Once again, we have a broad statement, when in fact they should try being a little more specific. What brands probably mean is that they either 1) don't use ingredients that are lab-made or 2) they don't use ingredients that have been linked to health risks. However, even if this was what they claimed, it'd still be almost certainly false and still a broad statement. All formulas are still being made in some sort of "lab" or "warehouse" and nobody is just inventing ingredients and throwing them into products. As for the second one, we know that everything is a chemical, including water (H2O - chemical compound), but we also know that if you drink too much water too quickly, you can become "water intoxicated" and die. A common phrase that is used to debunk/call out these brands and people who are making claims like we don't use anything that is linked to health risks is: DOSE MATTERS. We have regulations in place that would stop an ingredient being used at a high dose that would lead to health risks, and they also take into account multiple products containing that one ingredient. A great post that better explains this also comes from TheEcoWell, she talks about how a specific ingredient would be regulated and mindful that other ingredients in products could contain it as well.
6. Oily Skin Can't Use Oils: FALSE.
This is probably one of the oldest myths that is still going around to this day, and I was someone who believed it for the longest time. I'm going to start off by saying, yes, some oils can clog your pores and lead to breakouts, but once again, oils is a broad category and to say that is just BS. As I mentioned, I used to believe this back when I had extremely oily skin because everywhere I went and everything I read had someone telling me that oils will make you oilier and lead to more breakouts. But, I was also looking for information from unqualified people at department stores (not everyone, but they aren't dermatologists) and the one's that were qualified saying this were actually in the minority for people who share that opinion. Finally, I had someone at my department store tell me she had been using oils only at night, she said she doesn't get breakouts from it and it did not make her more oily. Long story short, I tried it out and I'm no longer extremely greasy. Why? Well, when you're oily, you usually lack hydration (water) due to, possibly, a compromised barrier, which leads to transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and your body signals that and produces sebum (oil) which is not only creating a barrier to trap moisture in, but it's also moisturizing your skin from being too dry/dehydrated. You definitely want to use a humectant to raise water levels in your skin, but you can also incorporate a light-weight facial oil in the evening so your body doesn't trigger your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Now, not everyone is going to be able to use the same oils, however, most people have no issues using rose hip seed oil and other light-weight oils.
7. Water Will Get Rid Of Your Acne: FALSE.
You gotta love clicking on a video on YouTube and one of the tips on how the person got rid of their acne was drinking water, you probably instantly open your bottle of water and start chugging it down, maybe for the next week you try to drink between 2-4L of water each day in hopes to get perfect skin... Well, here's your unpleasant newsflash, it's actually never been proven. There has been several studies conducted to try, and link water consumption with the reduction of acne, however all of them are inconclusive. The reason being is that it is way too hard to prove that increased water intake was the specific reason why the participants skin got better. Don't get me wrong though, water is still vital and you still should be drinking that over the juice, pop, coffee, etc... But, unfortunately if you think increasing your water intake for a week or two is going to solve all your problems, it won't necessarily do that.
8. Wearing Makeup Causes Acne: FALSE.
Ok, maybe this is the oldest myth now that I think about it... We all know that ever since we were kids we were told that if you wear makeup you will get acne, and more annoyingly, if you have acne and wear makeup, I can guarantee you have been told "stop wearing makeup it's going to cause breakouts" by some mid-aged woman (or man) who loves to post on social media about how natural they are. Well, send them this blog post next time they try to come for you because it is complete and utter bullshit. Applying makeup isn't the reason why you're having breakouts, the actual reason you are having breakouts possibly linked to makeup would be because there is something in it that you are allergic to and it's causing contact dermatitis, your brushes/sponges haven't been cleaned in a month or longer, or you haven't removed it properly (I'm looking directly at all of you who use a makeup wipe and then apply a $70 serum on after). How do you make sure you aren't going to be spreading bacteria and dirt on your face leading to a breakout? Wash those brushes frequently and throw out those old beauty sponges (this post just reminded me it's time to throw mine out too). What should you use instead of a makeup wipe to make sure everything is going? I'm a fan of double cleansing, using a balm or an oil cleanser first to melt everything off and then rinsing and using a second cleanser (or the same one twice if you're on a budget) to clean the skin will ensure that makeup isn't building up in your pores.
9. Retinoids Are Exfoliants: FALSE.
This one was added specifically because I am in a tretinoin group on Facebook and one of the most common things I would see almost daily is someone saying that if you use a retinoid (retinol, retinaldehyde, tretinoin, adapalene, etc...) you do not need to exfoliate because it does that for you. This is actually wrong, completely. Your skin cells start below the stratum corneum and slowly rise up and then die and flake off, this is the cell cycle that I am referring to. Retinoids work by speeding your cell cycle from about 30 days, to constantly turning over. Because of this, you will see a lot of flaky skin and your skin concerns slowly start to fade, which lead to the assumption that it is exfoliating your skin. Exfoliation is actually just removing the surface layers of dead skin. And because retinoids speed up that cell cycle and cause a lot more dead skin, you actually really do need to exfoliate your skin so sebum and dead skin doesn't clog your pore ;)
10. Pores Open + Close / You Can Shrink Your Pore: FALSE.
Alright... Now I'm a bit confused on which one is actually the oldest myth; maybe we can just say they all have simutaneously been going around for eons. The point is, it's a lie. Your pores are not muscles, so they cannot contract like a muscle would, thus, they cannot open and close. You're also stuck with the pore size you were born with, but what you can do, and I think people have misunderstood this whole "shrinking pore size" phenomenom, is minimize the appearance of them. I think people took minimizing as shrinking, but in reality it's not that at all. All you've done is just minimized the appearance, but it will come back again. Things you can do to minimize the appearance: proper cleansing, exfoliation (glycolic, lactic, salicylic, etc), retinoid creams/gels, as well as silicone primers - friendly reminder, that if you are going to use a silicone primer (heavy occlusive) you will definitely want to remove your makeup properly. But just a little loving to close out this post, stop analyzing your skin and your pore size, nobody is honestly paying attention and if you are someone who does, grow up, it's a natural part of our body - I mean, isn't the trend all about being natural anyways?