10 widely held misconceptions about skincare

From acne to skincare regimes and beauty products to diet, get your facts right about caring for your skin

close up of woman's face and skin issues

Myth Hot showers are good—they help skin open pores

Skin pores cannot open and close like doors; the pores on your skin are openings that allow sebum to flow to the surface of the skin keeping it supple and soft. Sometimes, they appear larger in size due to the accumulation of dead skin cells that have clogged them. To remove the dead cells, exfoliate your skin gently.

Myth Expensive products are the best

The price of the product has little to do with safety. Many skincare products available in the market contain chemicals that are harmful to the skin. This does not mean that you stop buying all products. I recommend picking products that contain natural and organic ingredients and traditional herbs.

Myth Poor hygiene causes acne

Acne isn’t caused by a dirty face. Acne may be caused by clogged pores and bacteria that may be present below the surface of your skin which may not come off by washing your face. Dirt and grime can pile up but they do not clog pores. The main culprits behind clogging of pores are dead skin cells combined with sebum. Unfortunately, scrubbing alone does not unclog the pores. On the contrary, scrubbing irritates your skin and makes it worse. The most effective way is to cleanse your face is with a mild, non-irritating cleanser twice a day.

Myth Stress causes acne!

Some studies have demonstrated there is no relationship between acne and stress. However, recent studies show that corticosteroids [which are increased during times of stress] may stimulate sebum production, hence worsen the acne. A 2003 study targeting medical students also shows patients with acne may experience worsening of the disease during examinations, suggesting stress may have a significant influence. Also dirt and dust surely leads to acne as it causes excessive production of sebum. So keep your skin clean, specially at night before sleep.

Myth Chocolates and fried, fatty food can cause acne

Fried and fatty foods are unhealthy as they are high in fat and cholesterol that can clog your arteries. However, there is no scientific proof regarding these foods causing acne. Research has shown that dark chocolate is beneficial to your heart and there is no proof of it causing acne. Certain foods like milk, which is rich in calcium, or shrimps, which has high iodine content could possibly worsen or aggravate acne whereas high amounts of refined sugar may aggravate acne and skin ageing.

Myth Make-up causes acne

Not all make-up is bad for your skin. You need to make the right choices and choose products that are skin-friendly. Look for the words “hypoallergenic” and “non-comedogenic” on the labels before purchasing your make-up products. There are also products containing Benzoyl Peroxide which is effective in acne treatment.

Myth All creams with natural ingredients are safe but only marginally effective

Many natural ingredients are quite effective. Coconut oil and cream, for instance, penetrate the skin very effectively and double the moisture levels in just 12 hours. They strengthen the skin’s natural lipid layer and improve skin texture remarkably within two months. Aloe vera is known to soothe inflamed skin after a sunburn. Hence, natural ingredients can be scientifically and therapeutically very effective too.

Myth What I eat is unimportant for my skin as I have a good cleansing routine

What you put inside your body is just as important for skin as your topical care. By now there is enough research to suggest that sugar causes acne and skin ageing; dairy promotes inflammation while whole grains, carrots and tomatoes keep the skin youthful. So learn how to eat your way to beauty and avoid foods that hurt your skin.

Myth Once you find products that suit your skin, never change them

Skin types are dynamic and keep changing. Do not blindly continue to use the same product; check your skin type especially during seasonal changes and at the time of travelling so as to avoid skin problems. Also, in my opinion no single product is sufficient and its best to mix cosmeceuticals to make a cocktail best suited for our skin. But consult your dermatologist before combining products.

Myth Dark-skinned people are safe from sun damage and skin cancer risks

It’s true that those with brown skin have more melanin which offers protection against UV rays, but they are more prone to moles. And abnormal moles are predecessors for melanoma. Hence in a way they also have a risk of skin cancer.

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Myth Let the skin breathe and hence do not apply any creams at night

Apart from a sunscreen, the most important cosmetic—for all ages from late teens till the end of our life—is the night cream. A good night cream that is suitable for your skin type nourishes the skin and leads to the desired suppleness. Also, as the skin is relaxed and unexposed to the pollution/stress at night, the free radical damage of the daytime gets reversed by a night cream. Apply it before sleeping no matter how you are.

 A version of this article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing

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