As a board-certified dermatologist in Houston, part of my job is helping my clients separate fact from fiction when it comes to skin care. Most often, I’ve found that the primary issue is not a lack of information, but an overload of conflicting information. Today we have access to a broad range of statistics, facts, and figures about how to best care for our skin and hair. Whether we get the information online or from magazines or advertisements, these conflicting messages can cause confusion for even the most skin savvy individual.
It’s time to put a few issues to rest. Read on to find out what’s true and what’s false in the world of beauty.
Myth 1: Dab on toothpaste to get rid of pimples
True, but I don’t recommend it. There are some ingredients in certain toothpastes, such as menthol, which can have a drying effect. The problem is that these ingredients can aggravate the skin and cause inflammation or irritation. Topical acne products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are a safer, more effective option. There are also great oral medications and laser and light therapies that can make a tremendous difference for people with acne.
Myth 2: Cucumbers reduce puffy eyes
Partially true. There’s no inherent property in cucumbers that reduces under-eye puffiness; it’s the coolness of the cucumber that restricts blood vessels and reduces swelling. It’s worth noting that this is only effective for puffiness that is caused from water retention, not for individuals whose eye bags are the result of genetics or aging. Chronic puffiness is more likely due to excess adipose tissue in the orbital fat pad. If this is the case, only eyelid surgery or injectable treatments will do the trick.
Myth 3: Lemon juice lightens hair
True for some. This depends on your hair color and how much sun you get, and really only works for those with light hair to begin with. Lemon juice is high in citric acid and has a lower pH than your hair. The lower pH opens up the cuticle and has a corrosive effect, which combines with sunlight to lighten the hair color. However, this can be very harsh on the hair. Many bleaching agents available at salons are formulated to be gentler and will give you the sun-kissed look you want with less damage.
Myth 4: Caffeine reduces puffy eyes
True. Applying caffeine topically, whether through an eye cream or caffeinated tea bags, can stimulate blood circulation and have a tightening effect. Using a gel eye cream with a rollerball applicator can also be beneficial because the coolness of the gel helps reduce swelling, while the massaging action of the rollerball drains lymph channels. Again, this method is only a temporary solution, effective for reducing puffiness caused by water retention, not genetics.
Myth 5: Egg whites stop cellulite
False. Unfortunately, eating egg whites or applying them to your skin will not eliminate cellulite. That’s because cellulite is not always an issue of fat or weight. Cellulite is a structural problem within the skin that is caused by a combination of thin skin, enlarged fat cells, and fibrous connective tissue.
Myth 6: Dryer sheets on hair stop flyaways
True. You hair has an electrical charge, just like your clothes, and when the charge is positive, you see flyaways. A fabric softener or dryer sheet can temporarily change the charge of your hair and keep hair in place. The exception is individuals whose flyaways are due to chemical damage or over-processing. In this case, a smoothing hair oil, pomade, or hairspray can help.
Myth 7: Olive oil stimulates hair growth
False. Olive oil may give you shinier, softer hair – but it will not give you a fuller head of hair. Only ingredients that help promote blood flow, which brings nutrients to the hair follicles, are effective for promoting hair growth. However, the results from over-the-counter shampoos and conditioners containing these ingredients are negligible. If you are concerned about thinning hair, see a physician who specializes in hair restoration.
Myth 8: Hairspray locks makeup in place for hours
Possibly, but not recommended. Hairspray is formulated for the hair, not the skin, and the ingredients can be very irritating. There are much better ways to keep your makeup looking fresh. Try using cosmetic primers underneath your makeup for a longer-lasting hold. Or, you can try a makeup setting spray. These products contain a higher level of solids and deliver a more uniform film across the skin, as opposed tiny droplets (as with hair spray), which better holds makeup in place.
Myth 9: Cold showers make hair shinier
True. Cold water seals the hair cuticle and makes the hair smoother and better able to reflect light. Additionally, cold water does not strip hair of essential moisture the same way hot water does, which means that your more of your natural oils are left intact after showering. The more moisture your hair has, the more radiant it looks. You can also buy leave-in hair products with silicone agents and light-reflective properties to help smooth hair cuticles and enhance shine.
Myth 10: Sleep on your back to avoid wrinkles
True. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) even agrees with this one. Sleeping in the same position night after night can etch lines into the skin and create permanent wrinkles. If you’re a sideways sleeper, then you are at risk for wrinkles on the chin and cheeks. If you prefer to sleep on your stomach with your face pressed into the pillow, expect a few more forehead creases. But don’t lose any sleep over it; these lines are nothing fillers or a little BOTOX® can’t fix.