Debunking Skincare Myths

There are many falsehoods floating around in the skin care world. Quick fixes don't work, and neither do miracle regimens. And remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With all the myths circulating about caring for the skin, it's bound to get confusing. What should you believe? My best advice to you is this: use your common sense. Claims and promises seduce you into buying products; they don't necessarily bring you the promised results.

Start now (or continue) to affect your skin in a healthy way by following a good skin care routine. Taking care of your skin on a daily basis will bring you the most consistent and long-term results.

Myth #1: Skin breathes. I hear a lot of people say, “My skin can't breathe,” or after removing a heavy cream or foundation, “Now my skin can breathe.” Well, the truth is your skin doesn't breathe. Not externally, anyway. Your skin is nourished from the oxygen and nutrients carried in the blood. No measurable amount of oxygen is absorbed from the outside air. Your outer skin does eliminate toxins, sweat, and oil and absorbs moisture from the air. When you put a heavy cream or foundation on for instance, your skin is less able to function properly. You might mistakenly say it “can't breathe.” These occlusive coverings (foundations and heavy creams) can inhibit elimination and absorption, but not the actual oxygen nourishing the skin. Now you know—skin does not breathe.

Myth #2: Soap is a good cleanser. I'm not a fan of soap as a general rule. The ingredients used to make it a hard bar are generally harsh and better kept off your face. You may feel soap really gets your skin clean—and you're right. But soap gets it too clean. It may make your skin feel squeaky clean, but in reality, you've just stripped all the oil and all the water off the surface of your skin. This will give you a taut feeling (which you may associate with clean), but your skin is now stripped! You don't have to strip everything off in order to get a good, general cleanse. And when your skin is stripped, it is left vulnerable until the proper pH is restored. It's as though you're moving out of your house or apartment, and you not only take all your belongings and furniture, but you also pull up the carpet, take the wallpaper down, and peel the paint from the walls. Soap has a similar effect on your skin.The best way to clean your skin is with a water-soluble cleanser. Almost all companies include a cleansing milk, cream, or wash in their product line that is water-soluble.

Myth #3: Toners are the second step in cleansing. Toners are an important yet misunderstood step in your daily program. You may have heard they are the second step in cleansing: “Wipe your face with a cotton ball soaked in the toner and look at all the dirt it picks up.” What that really means is you didn't get your skin clean, so it's back to Step 1: Cleansing for you. Cleansers cleanse, toners tone or prepare. Toners are not cleansers. Technically, toners reacidify the epidermis and prepare the skin for moisturizer. To reacidify means to replace the skin's naturally low (acidic) pH which is disrupted somewhat even with gentle cleansers. Epidermis is just another word for your outer, dead skin, the skin you can touch. So toners help replace the natural acidic state of your skin. Toners are primarily water, so they also superficially hydrate the outer skin.

Myth #4: Pores shrink. The plain truth is this: pores don't shrink. There is no cream or ointment or skin care regime that can change this fact. Pores are not little openings that can expand and contract like muscles. They do expand or stretch, but pores are not so elastic that they can contract to their former, smaller state.

Pores will naturally enlarge as you get older due to the downward pull of gravity (especially in the cheek area). Because oily skin is usually congested, this type of skin will be more prone to enlarged pores. Debris nestled in the pores over a period of time will expand the opening to support the enlarging plug or blackhead. Keeping the skin clean will help keep your pores from enlarging.

Myth #5: Food doesn't affect skin. Food does affect your skin. There are plenty of books and many doctors who will disagree with me on this issue. However, I have seen too much evidence to believe otherwise. It just doesn't make sense that what you eat doesn't affect everything about you, including your skin. It's like saying I can fill up my car's gas tank with orange juice, and this won't affect how it runs. A car requires a certain type of fuel to run efficiently, and so does your body. If you put low-quality foods into your system, sooner or later your system (your body) will rebel.

When someone comes to see me with breakout, the first questions I ask concern their diet (daily intake of food). This includes questions about sugar intake as well. I have found over and over that poor diet and excess consumption of sugar (along with other factors) equals skin trouble. This is not to say someone with problem skin couldn't be eating well but have a hormone imbalance that is causing problems. I've seen that too. But more often than not, diet plays a key role in how clear (or broken out) your skin is. 

Myth #6: Foundation is good for the skin. Foundation is actually not good for your skin. It acts as an occlusive covering over the skin. Its purpose is to remain on the surface, not to penetrate like a moisturizer. So it stays on top, just sitting there. As you now know, your skin doesn't breathe from the outside, so foundation doesn't keep your skin from breathing. It does, however, inhibit elimination. And your skin will absorb some of the foundation. After all, it's justsitting there all day long. Undoubtedly some of it will seep into your pores. And when this happens, the pores can enlarge. Foundations can cause congestion as well, especially if you have an oily skin type. If you have breakout and are using foundation, you are just fueling the very problem the foundation is attempting to cover up.

Foundation serves no beneficial purpose to the skin. Or rather, any benefits you may derive from wearing foundation (shielding you from the environment and adding an SPF to your skin) is totally outweighed by the detrimental effects (clogging, congestion, enlarging the pores, inhibiting elimination).

Myth #7: Facial exercises help reduce wrinkles and/or firm the skin. Wrinkles are lines of expression. They are formed by the constant animation of your face. Most of these facial exercise regimes encourage you to make faces that, I hate to tell you, are just increasing the depth and premature appearance of lines on your face. Don't rush your wrinkles!

Myth #8: Facials make your skin break out. You'll sometimes here how getting a facial helps bring the impurities in your skin to the surface. Therefore if you experience breakout after a facial, it's actually a good thing. Well, I disagree. True, once in a while getting a facial may speed up the elimination of one or two small places on your face. But facials really should clear up your skin, not cause breakout. Perhaps you are having a reaction to the products used. Perhaps the aesthetician extracted too many places, which caused irritation and inflammation. But if you had an effective facial treatment, it is my belief that your skin should reflect this by looking clean, clear, and free from new breakout. Anything more than a small place or two every once in a while after a facial is indicative of a problem with the facial or the products, not with your skin.

Myth #9: My skin is dry (or is it?). I want to clear up an area of confusion regarding two very different skin types. The misunderstanding surrounds two separate conditions that are thought to be the same: dehydration and true-dry skin.

Dehydration deals with surface water loss. True-dry skin reflects a lack of oil. Many people think they have dry skin (because it feels dry), when really they are dehydrated. This distinction becomes very important to make when buying skin care products. If you go to the cosmetic counter and complain of dry skin--when really you are dehydrated with, let's say, normal to oily skin—you could be on the verge of a skin care catastrophe.

True-dry skin = lack of oil. Dehydrated skin = lack of water. You can be oily and dehydrated, but you cannot be both oily and dry. Your oil glands are either producing enough, too much, or not enough oil.

Although true-dry skin and dehydrated skin feel the same, their causes are totally different, and the treatment of each, separate condition is also very different. With true-dry skin, the treatment is fairly basic. The skin needs to be kept moisturized at all times. Because the sebaceous glands are not producing enough oil, you want to provide a sufficient amount of oil through product application. Exfoliation is also important to keep the dead cell buildup to a minimum. But the most important thing is to adequately hydrate true-dry skin with proper moisturizing products. Dehydration means there is an excessive dead cell buildup on the surface of your skin, and you need to exfoliate. This buildup renders your skin unable to retain water efficiently. Without regular exfoliation, the condition will continue or worsen. No amount of moisturizing will truly fix the problem, but through regular and thorough exfoliation you can greatly reduce or eliminate dehydration.

Myth #10: Aging is bad. I truly believe aging is not the terrible thing it is represented to be in the consciousness of this country. Aging is inevitable, and it is the most natural process in life—one to be heralded, not condemned. A pervasive perception in our society today is that there is something inherently wrong with getting older. Yes, it can be disheartening to see the lines start to form or get deeper. Slowing down, loosing your 20/20 vision, and waking up to stiff joints is not what you would choose for yourself. Although degenerating is the part of the process that is perhaps the hardest to take, what about what you gain with age?

The big question is “What is wrong with aging?” If you spend your whole life fighting the aging process, are you really living? What are you comparing old to? How will you grow old? Do you know older people who seem young? People who haven't caved in to some society-driven illusion of how “old is bad.” The adage about wine getting better with time—isn't this true for people as well?

Aging with grace is what I'm striving for in my own life. You can struggle with what is happening and put up a big fight, but the bottom line is the aging of your body will occur anyway. There are no miracles to be found in a jar of cream, nor is there a Fountain of Youth at the doctor's office. You are your own living miracle, and how your body functions is the daily affirmation, the absolute proof. The Fountain of Youth is inside you.


  1. Awesome! Answered many of my beauty questions



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The Skin Radar is an online avenue which documents my tumbling thoughts, ideas and musings from my daily life, mainly based on skincare and beauty. It is designed to take the clutter out of beauty journalism to provide trustworthy and objective insights, new finds and sneak peaks- all in a beautiful and clean platform.

I test all products & treatments with age and skin colour in mind, break down the latest health fads, and source for expert opinions from international skincare leaders. All in all, my goal is to make sure that I am on top of every beauty innovation and skincare trend the world has to offer.