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11 Popular Skin Care Myths, Analyzed by a Dermatologist

There’s so much advice out there regarding skin care do’s and don’ts. Everyone has an opinion, from your favorite beauty blogger to your grandmother!

All these people have products they swear by, ingredients they warn you to avoid, superfoods they remind you to eat… It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder: which of these popular myths, warnings, and recommendations are backed up by science?

In our first installment of “Fact or Fiction”, Dr. Steele provides her medical opinion and sheds light on 11 common skin care beliefs.

1. The Higher the SPF, the Better the Protection

skin care


SPF is important, but it only measures protection from one type of UV radiation (UVA). It is important to choose a “broad spectrum” sunscreen that includes protection from UVA and UVB.

Furthermore, you need a sunscreen that has physical blockers, i.e. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. I recommend the EltaMD sunscreen line because they provide excellent broad spectrum protection and don’t irritate the skin or eyes.

2. Oily Skin Doesn’t Wrinkle as Much as Dry Skin

skin care


We do observe that those who have oilier skin tend to have fewer fine lines and wrinkles. We’re not exactly sure why, but it may be linked to the skin’s thickness. As you might imagine, thinner skin tends to experience more fine wrinkling. Oilier skin ages, just differently with more evidence of volume loss, sagging and drooping (tired looking eyes, jowls, heavy nasolabial folds/smile lines).

3. Junk Food Causes Acne

Junk Food Acne Myth


There is nothing about any specific food or drink (like soda or chocolate) that causes acne. However, in recent years there has been more and more attention paid to what is actually in the food that we eat from the grocery store and restaurants – what’s genetically modified, what’s been grown with hormones, pesticides, etc.

I do believe that foods that generally create or promote inflammation in the body also wreak havoc on the skin. In order to have the best skin (and body) and avoid pro-inflammatory foods, I recommend a low glycemic index diet, avoidance of simple sugars/carbs and saturated fats, a diet full of antioxidants (fruits, vegetables) and healthy fats (Omega 3 and 6), organic foods whenever possible, and limited dairy intake.

4. Have Dry Skin? Drink More Water!  

Drink Water Dry Skin Myth


There are plenty of people who will say that water is the cure to all of your skin problems. Whether you have dry skin, acne-prone skin, eczema-prone skin: they say drinking more water is the key to better skin. There is no doubt that drinking an adequate amount of water is good for everyone for lots of reasons.

Staying hydrated will contribute to hydrated looking skin, but won’t “fix” anything about your skin. If you have dry skin, it’s most likely just because that’s how you were made (it’s your genetic predisposition) so you need to use heavier moisturizers and moisturize more often.

5. Your Skin Will Age Just Like Your Mother’s

Skin Age Like Mother Myth


There is some truth in this: genetics play a big role in how you age. As we age we start to notice that we are getting the same types of moles, skin growths, freckles, and wrinkles that our mothers and fathers had.

I think it’s wise to keep note of these things as a clue into the future and know where you may want to do some preventative treatments or intervene earlier than later because you see how things may progress over the years.  Of course, with wise lifestyle and skin choices, you can ultimately change the end results.  By choosing great nutrition, skin care, skin treatments, and avoiding toxins to the skin like tobacco, excessive sun, etc. you can be the master of your skin’s fate.

6. You Don’t Need Sunscreen On a Cloudy Day

Sunscreen Cloudy Day Myth


Don’t make this mistake, it’s an easy way to get quickly burned! Make sure you wear sunscreen daily on exposed skin, in any kind of weather.

7. Dairy Is Bad For Your Skin

Dairy Bad For Skin Myth

Fact, for some people.

Although the evidence started out weak and the mechanism was unknown, it does seem that dairy may contribute to acne in some people. It may be the Insulin Growth Factor (IGF) that is found in cow’s milk that may worsen acne. It’s also this hormone when produced by our bodies in response to high glycemic index foods/meals that may lead to acne.

In any case, everyone’s acne is a little different and some may be caused by hormonal triggers, stress/cortisol levels, genetics, etc. I do recommend patients limit dairy intake if trying to combat acne. It may not be the sole cause but limiting dairy consumption may help in an overall regimen to improve acne.

8. Black Don’t Crack

Black Don't Crack Myth


It’s a popular adage that “black don’t crack” meaning that African Americans or people of African descent and with darker skin tones, don’t age as much as those with lighter complexions. Generally speaking, people with more pigment have more natural protection from the harmful effects of UV radiation which contributes to a lot of signs of aging, so women with more pigment have an advantage here. Black women tend to have fewer fine lines and wrinkles, like crow’s feet.

On the other hand, I find skin discoloration, volume loss in the cheeks, development of jowls, a heavy, sagging lower face and neck, and undereye circles and a heavy/thickened brow to be more common in my African American, South and East Asian, and Latina patients. When this is the case, I incorporate fillers and volumizers early on, a regimen for preventing and treating uneven skin pigmentation, and relaxants like Botox for those with a heavy frown creating deep creases in between the brows or on the forehead.

However, in today’s diverse world, more and more of my patients are of mixed heritage to some degree and determining what a patient needs is very individualized. I have many African American, Latina and Asian patients who need wrinkle relaxant treatment like Botox to combat fine lines and wrinkles that may typically be associated with our more fair skinned counterparts. Conversely, I have some White patients who suffer with pigmentation issues. It is best not to rely on stereotypes, but rather to pay attention to your own skin changes and see a doctor like myself who doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all treatment plan.

9. Crossing Your Legs Causes Spider Veins

Crossing Legs Spider Veins Myth


Spider veins are mostly due to genetic predisposition: crossing your legs really has nothing to do with it. Activities that may increase your chance of getting spider veins are usually those that increase the pressure in your legs. Pregnancy is a big one: when you’re pregnant you have increased blood flow in general, and a little human in your pelvis that causes increased pressure in the lower body.

The more pregnancies, the higher the chance of spider and varicose veins. Also, those who are on their feet a lot tend to have a higher risk. Wearing compression hose to minimize pressure in legs will help prevent spider veins. Once they are there, I can treat them with laser treatments or through small injections of a solution that irritates the lining of the little veins and causes them to collapse. Both options are very well tolerated by patients.

10. Liposuction Makes Fat Cells Move to Another Area of the Body

Liposuction Moves Fat Myth

Pure Fiction.  

When you have liposuction in an area of the body the fat cells are removed forever. Let’s say you have lipo on your abdomen and prior to this, you used to gain weight in your abdomen first before gaining in your hips, arms, and face.

After getting liposuction, you won’t see the weight gain in your abdomen first, because you have fewer fat cells in this area. Now you’ll notice it when it gets to your hips, arms, and face just like it would have before – but the abdomen is cut out of the process.

Lipo is a great procedure for people who have a stubborn area of fat that just won’t go away with their best diet and exercise attempts. It’s not a means of weight loss or even overall fat reduction, but it’s the gold standard for removing stubborn pockets of fat!

11. Lasers Are the Only Way to Treat Acne Scars

Lasers Acne Scars Myth


Lasers can work well for acne scars, but may require several treatments and may not work for all types of scars, all skin types. I love to use some of the newest fillers on the market that are designed to be used superficially enough in the skin to treat acne scars. Patients get a great and immediate result and while you may need touch up treatments here and there, the results are long lasting and semi-permanent. I offer Belotero in office for pitted, sunken scars.

For dark spots and blemishes from acne, chemical peels offered in office and topical creams that help even out the skin tone make my patients very happy with their complexion. For acne scarring that creates uneven skin texture, i.e. that’s not deep enough to be filled, microneedling is an awesome choice. It’s safe for all skin types and can create smoother skin without much downtime after treatment. Altogether, we don’t have to accept acne scarring! With an individualized combination of treatments, you can have smoother and more even skin after we’ve conquered your acne!

Fact: Everybody’s Skin is Different!

Hopefully we’ve cleared up some of the biggest skin care myths and left you more knowledgeable about taking care of your body’s largest organ. As you’ve seen, some of these “rules” apply to some people and not others. This is why it’s crucial to understand your personal skin situation in order to accurately assess what your ideal skin care routine, diet, and habits should be.
Whether you’re concerned with acne, liposuction, anti-aging, or any other aspect of achieving your optimal skin, body, and hair – make an appointment with Dr. Steele to devise the best treatment plan for your unique situation!

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The health and safety of our patients is our biggest concern. Please read about the necessary precautions we are taking to deliver the safest care to our patients.
Learn More