Most of us at some point must have lived through or are perhaps living with a skin problem, such as pimples, pigmentation, dry skin, oily skin, crack heel, chapped lips, etc, the list is long. As if we’re less worried about those problems, we are bombarded by suggestions from peers and families, and nowadays also from social media. Many of the beauty myths have been around for generations and still practiced, though they aren’t doing any favors to your skin. Let’s begin the fun of debunking a few of them.

Myth: Your skin gets used to a product after a while.
People tend to switch products after using it for a while, probably believing that its effectiveness wears off or saturates with extended use. Rather the effectiveness of the skincare products increase with time, more so with antioxidant serum, anti-aging molecules such as retinol and peptides. However, you can add or eliminate products in your skincare regimen to address any new skin challenges.

Myth: Exotic sounding molecules are better
Seaweeds to Himalayan spring water to deep forest bloom to slimy snail…..nothing is spared! Do they work? I doubt it! Do you need them? No! It is human nature to get attracted to farfetched ideas and the skincare industry plays it smartly.

Myth: Expensive products are better
Why pay more when you get cheaper effective alternative….unless you willfully want to splurge. Choose the star ingredient that works over the brand. Price is never an indicator of how efficiently the products work.

Myth: All natural and herbal products are harmless
You can’t put it in one box and label it as either harmful or harmless. For example; many people apply lemon juice directly onto the skin to make the pigmentation mark fade away. It is alkaline and may disturb the pH balance of the skin which is acidic. It also contains a photosensitizer which may paradoxically darken the skin.

Myth: Moisturizer or foundation has SPF, so I don’t need a separate sunscreen
People have many misconceptions when it comes to sunscreen. The rule is “Nothing replaces sunscreen and never miss sunscreen”. Everyone knows sunscreen is an essential part of skincare, but in practice, it is ignored. The general recommendation is, “to apply two fingertip units or 1 teaspoon equivalent quantity of sunscreen for your entire face and neck every two hours even on a cloudy day or indoors or at least 15mins to 30mins before stepping out”. We generally apply one third or less of what is recommended. It is good to have additional SPF in the moisturizer or makeup but it should not replace sunscreen. There is confusion about which SPF to choose. American Academy of Dermatology recommends a minimum of 30 SPF. It is okay to go up to 50 SPF but beyond that, it doesn’t give additional protection, instead there is risk of chemical irritation of the skin.

Myth: Scrub too hard or too often, the better
Be gentle to your skin! Scrub lightly only once or twice a week. Scrubbing too frequently or too hard or with coarse particles, not only strips the moisture and protective barrier of your skin, but it may also darken skin and may worsen the pimple. Instead, you may use AHAs or BHAs such as lactic acid, glycolic acid or salicylic acid in lower strength for home use or may visit a dermatologist monthly for more advanced professional peel which may address issues such as clogged pores, pimple, skin pigmentation, wrinkles and dry skin.

Myth: My skin will age just like my parents
Though you share genetic similarity with your parents, you also own dissimilarity due to mutations and various other natural processes. Many of your genes are unique to you. Your skin aging will depend on the lifestyle choices you make such as eating, sleeping, exercising habits, apart from regular skincare regimen. Hence, you may or may not age like your parents.

Myth: Hair oiling helps hair grow faster
Hair oil makes hair strands soft, supple, shiny and manageable. However, hair oil enhancing hair growth has not yet been proven medically despite alluring advertisements by the brands.

Myth: Pigmentation such as MelasmaPoto” doesn’t fade
People have carried this belief that “poto” doesn’t go away for a long time. It is time to rethink. With the advent of the newer medicines and better understanding of its pathology, it is now possible to treat Melasma. However, recovery is a slow process. It is a test of patience for both patient and treating dermatologist. I would suggest a regular home regimen of an elixir of antioxidant vitamins, prescription-strength safe skin lightening creams, broad-spectrum sunscreen and monthly professional controlled chemical exfoliation to achieve complete recovery in the long run.

Myth: Chemical peel thins the skin
A chemical peel is a procedure where a medical grade acid is applied to the skin. These agents exfoliate and resurface the outer layer of the skin, penetrate the deeper layer of the skin and induce collagen synthesis. That translates as smoother skin with fewer discolorations and wrinkles. All chemical peels are designed to help and achieve these results, but a particular peel is designed to do certain things better, such as lactic acid peel for pigmentation, salicylic acid for pimples and yellow peel for wrinkles.

Myth: Oily Skin doesn’t age easily
Oil film over the fine lines reflect light and give the perception of smooth skin. Oily skin does age and one should be regular with a skin conditioning regimen including antioxidant serum, hydrating moisturizer, broad-spectrum sunscreen, and retinoid to defer the appearance of lines and blotchy spots.

Myth: You don’t get pimples when you age
I’ve heard many say, “Doc, I never got a pimple or had skin issues when I was a teenager but in my 30s or 40s am getting these nasty zits”. Yes! It is common and referred to as “Adult acne”. Teenage pimples occur mostly in the upper half of the face, while the adult acne manifests mostly around the jaw line and cheeks. Adult acne is better felt than seen. You feel small bumps when you run your fingers through your jaw line. These bumps outnumber the pimples you see on the surface. These bumps break out one after another for months or even years and leave pigmentation and marks.

As you age, the turnover of the skin becomes sluggish, the dead cells accumulate and clog the pores and give rise to these zits. Stress, pollution, hormonal fluctuation, and comedogenic products are common triggers for adult acne. The good news is adult acne responds very well to medical treatment such as salicylic peel, topical and oral retinoids.

Myth: Pimples improve with facial massage
A facial is a nice way to relax and give your dull skin freshness. Traditional facial, where the face is massaged with creams, should never be done when you have pimples. It worsens the zits both in number and size. Not all facials are the same. But one can consider doing facial which doesn’t involve rub or massage such as chemical peel facial especially Salicylic acid peel, hydra facial, and LED light facial.

 Dr. Prativa Shrestha Das,
Cosmetic Dermatologist,
Skin and Aesthetic clinic,
Clinic One, Jawalakhel.