Can you really shrink the size of your pores? Does binging on chocolate actually cause breakouts? Many of these so-called pieces of advice come from unfounded beliefs and end up doing more harm than good.We chatted to beauty expert and cofounder of Powder.ae Ayat Toufeeq who debunked some of the industry's biggest beauty myths. Ahead, 10 of the most popular misconceptions you need to get out of your head...
1. Pores can be shrunk
Unfortunately, the size of your pores will never change, regardless of which products you use or how much steam you subject your face to. (Side note: we suggest you avoid steaming your face unless it is occasional and gentle steam, otherwise this is a sure-fire way to dry your skin out for little benefit). Pores may appear wider or tighter sometimes, as temperature changes do cause the skin to either soften or contract, but this effect is only temporary. The good news is that pores are only really noticeable when they are congested, and that can be addressed. The best way to improve the appearance of clogged pores is by using Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) – also known as Salicylic Acid. BHAs work to loosen clogs by binding to the sebum and oils congesting the pores, minimizing their appearance over time.
2. Oily skin doesn’t need (as much) moisture
This one couldn’t be further from the truth! Oily skin needs just as much if not more hydration than other skin types. When the skin is stripped of its natural moisture by harsh products or cleansers, it will overcompensate by producing even more oil! The key to balancing oil production is to layer a light, water-based hydrating product (look for ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid) under an oil-based moisturizer. This helps ‘seal’ the moisture into the skin and reverse the over-compensation.
Jessica Kahawaty for Dior
3. Wearing make-up every day causes breakouts
Nope. Well, some make-up can cause breakouts if your skin is sensitive to a particular ingredient, but this is not common. What actually causes breakouts is not removing make-up properly, and no, wipes are not enough. Sleeping in makeup not only leads to pore-clogging buildup and encourages bacteria to flourish, but it can also even lead to eye infections where eye makeup isn’t removed properly. If you are wearing a full face of make-up and SPF on a daily basis then your skin needs thorough cleanse with an oil-based cleanser, ideally followed by a water-based or foaming second cleanse to remove any remaining impurities.
4. Products with ‘natural’ ingredients will not cause irritation
The benefits of using natural and organic beauty products are endless, however, a lower likelihood of irritation is not guaranteed to be one of them. Essential oils are often used in natural formulations and yield very effective results, but can also trigger reactions in sensitive skin types. Tolerance to essential oils is highly personal so we recommend carrying out a patch test before using new products, particularly where serums or facial oils are concerned.
5. If a product is labelled as ‘hypoallergenic’, it will be suitable for all skin types
The term ‘hypoallergenic’ doesn’t really mean anything! There are no consistent regulations or guidelines anywhere in the world regarding what qualifies as ‘hypoallergenic’. Often, what it actually means is that the product is formulated without the most common allergenic ingredients, so it may not be as safe as you assume. The only way to avoid adverse reactions is to read and make a mental (or actual) note of the ingredients in the products you use, and over time learn to identify what doesn’t work for your skin.
6. Home beauty remedies are harmless
Natural home remedies for popular skincare problems seem harmless enough, combining various common household ingredients for instant hair and face masks, scrubs and other treatments. However, they should be approached with caution as many of these otherwise safe ingredients are not so safe when applied directly to the skin. For example, baking soda is often featured in these recipes, but it’s extremely alkaline properties can compromise the skin’s acid mantle, doing far more harm than good. Lemon juice and coconut oil are also often recommended as part of these DIY remedies, however, lemon juice is extremely acidic and can burn and dehydrate the skin, whilst coconut oil can seriously clog your pores and weigh your hair down. Leave the beauty formulations to the experts!
7. You don’t need to wear sunscreen if your makeup has SPF
This is a potentially dangerous myth, as makeup products which include sun protection provide a false sense of security. The amount of sunscreen needed to adequately protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is much, much more than the amount of makeup you would apply at once (re-application aside). Be safe and apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, no less than SPF 30, under your makeup daily.
8. Eating chocolate and junk food gives you breakouts
Well, not directly. Studies have shown that a clean diet as part of an overall healthy lifestyle does have an impact on your skin (after all, you really are what you eat), but there is no evidence that indulging in the occasional treat will result in a breakout or that eating clean will guarantee clear skin. It is possible, however, that the dairy in that chocolate bar could be sabotaging your skin – read our full editorial on how dairy consumption affects your skin here.
Harper's Bazaar Arabia January Issue
9. You need an eye cream
We love our eye cream. But as long as you are using a good moisturizer which is suitable for your skin type, a separate eye cream is not necessary. The skin around your eyes is essentially the same as the skin elsewhere on your face, albeit a little thinner and more delicate. Any product which works to moisturize, nourish and repair your skin, in general, will work around your eyes, as long as it is not especially harsh or drying. And while we are on the subject, it is also not necessary to apply product around the eyes with your ring finger. This wide-spread myth stems from the assumption that the ring finger will apply the least pressure. The key is to very gently pat rather than rub, regardless of which finger you use.
10. Exfoliating daily will keep my skin clear and smooth
Exfoliating regularly is a great idea, however, exfoliating daily is very risky can lead to stressed and uncomfortable skin. Whether you are using a scrub, a gentle enzyme exfoliator, acids, retinoids or a combination of all of these, we recommend applying exfoliating products between once and three times a week at most. Any more than this and you risk compromising your skin’s natural moisture barrier and ending up with tight, red and flaky skin. Existing blemishes are also more likely to become irritated, and the skin will take longer to heal. When it comes to exfoliation, moderation is key.
BONUS MYTH: Dry shampoo is the answer to everything
Who doesn’t love dry shampoo? We certainly do. Not only is it a time-saving godsend for keeping unwashed hair looking clean and smelling fresh, but it is also one of our favourite styling tools (hello volume). The bad news is that using dry shampoo too often can really dehydrate your strands and leave your scalp flaky, irritated and inflamed. Residual build-up over time can also lead to dull, lifeless hair. Show your scalp some love and limit your use to a couple of times a week at most.