Here are 5 ways that you may have been misunderstanding the art of skincare — and what the truth behind some of these apocryphal anecdotes is.
1. Looking younger is all about your skin cream
While you might get some benefits from “age-defying” concoctions like retinol or AHA peels, as it turns out, the way your skin ages doesn’t have as much to do with your skin itself as you might think.
A 2012 review in the Journal of Dermatoendocrinology lists many of the factors that scientists have attributed to signs of aging, and many of them have more to do with one’s diet, genetics, or even your skeletal muscles than your skin itself. Causes of premature skin aging range from “disturbed lipid metabolism,” as in your body’s ability to break down fats, to “altered insulin” or even “differential expression of cytoskeletal proteins,” like keratin or biotin.
Additionally, there are some wrinkles that just won’t go away without other interventions. Usually, furrows in the skin are a result of a lack of collagen, and though many skin creams advertise collagen as an active ingredient, permanent elastic creases or gravitational folds can’t be cured with a simple serum. Luckily, if you’re starting to feel a little like a Shar-Pei dog, Botox and Juvéderm aren’t just for the ultra-wealthy or ultra-vain anymore; if done by a careful practitioner, it can remove wrinkles in just one treatment.
2. Only teenagers get acne
Another assumption about skin is that if you’re no longer a teen, persistent acne or blackheads just mean that you need to wash your face more. While face-washing is a hallmark of skincare, acne can manifest for a number of reasons, some of which are more about hormones than skin.
Adult acne, especially for women, usually emerges along the chin and jawline in the form of deep painful cysts. Fluctuating hormones such as estrogen or progesterone can create a pH imbalance, excessive oil production, inflammation, or lack of circulation in the face. Usually, these changes happen for women during menstruation, pregnancy, or in the postpartum period. For men, excess testosterone can be causing adult acne breakouts.
For any gender, if an unexplained breakout emerges for longer than a month, consider going to a dermatologist to have the cause investigated.
3. Skincare is for women
If you’re a man, and you’re still reading this article, maybe you already know this. But if you’re on the fence, take it from doctors, scientists, aestheticians and Sephora fanatics alike: skincare is for everyone.
In many ways, men’s skincare has turned into a lost art; it is an entire specialty of its own, one that many aren’t educated about. The Cleveland Clinic highlights that men are more likely to have larger pores, more active sebaceous glands, and often appear more oily and shinier. Additionally, men’s constant exfoliation in the context of beard-shaving leaves their skin more sensitive and prone to external factors like pore-clogging dirt or sunburns.
All these factors require different formulas and products for men, and often because there are many more products for women on the market, men can feel left out of the skincare world. Fortunately, companies like Lab Series have products designed just for men’s skin, and Esquire has tips on how to assemble an entire skincare routine for those who have never even bought a tube of facial moisturizer before.
4. The more expensive the product, the better it is
This myth might be costing you the most: yes, your La Mer skin cream was very expensive, but was it worth all the hype?
When it comes to dropping hundreds on a trendy new moisturizer – it’s just not worth it for a number of reasons. Small brands sometimes don’t have the funding to test their products in a lab, and ethical companies refuse to test on animals, limiting their ability to collect data. Large brands prefer to swap out a more natural chemical base for a cheaper one like Cetearyl alcohol or petroleum, so while you think you’re getting a fancy additive, 90% of your product has the same ingredients as a drugstore dupe.
The best way to make sure you’re not getting swindled is to read the label and stick with the ingredients that scientists have proven to work. Retinol, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C or Vitamin E is always solid components backed by countless studies, and things like rosehip oil, witch hazel, or other natural elements have been tried-and-true homeopathic options for years.
5. Makeup makes you age faster
The last skin myth is that makeup makes you age faster. While this myth has a kernel of truth, in general, makeup isn’t going to make or break the aging process.
Dermascope explores the truths and falsehoods of this rumor with a bit more nuance, claiming that it isn’t the makeup itself that ages your skin, but the type of makeup you’re wearing, and how you’re wearing it.
Some types of makeup can cause your skin to dry out, leading to premature aging. Some of the ingredients to look out for in makeup are sulfates, in particular sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These can be found in a number of cosmetics including shampoos, foundations, and cleansers. They’re known as “surfactants,” meaning that it’s a substance that reduces the surface tension between two liquids, like a wetting agent or an emulsifier.
Another tip to prevent the premature aging effects of makeup is remembering to take it off at night. “During the sleep cycle,” Dermascope notes, “skin falls into an intensive process of DNA repair and skin rejuvenation,” and when one doesn’t remove makeup completely, it can form “an occlusive barrier, impeding the restorative process by which dead skin cells are replaced with new ones.”
So, in addition to breakouts and eye irritation, the lack of exfoliation, moisturization, and general proper care can result in superficial signs of aging like cracked skin and puffiness or redness. That being said, it’s not the makeup itself that’s causing you to age, it’s the fact that you’re not washing it off.