Skincare is a whole world, and it just keeps getting bigger.
It's become a balm for many during the COVID-19 pandemic and is even sometimes used as a stand-in for healthcare in the USA, where healthcare is far more exorbitantly priced than even the most luxe, overpriced, gold-embedded creams (that really don't work much better than your regular drugstore product).
Still, while everyone knows moisturizing and cleansing are a must for long-term healthy skin, even the most hardcore skincare fanatic has to admit that...it all gets a little ridiculous at some point.
After all, skincare is a product and every company is trying to sell you their own unique brand, promising ever-more outlandish things that are sometimes just plain wrong. Here are five myths about skincare you should NOT believe.
1. Skincare can keep you looking young
This is one of the BIG LIES propagated by the Skincare Industrial Complex.
Sure, skincare can help your skin look smoother and younger, but no product can ever totally stop wrinkles from forming or aging from happening — and it shouldn't. Scientists say the best ways to prevent signs of aging are to quit smoking and use sunscreen, and lifestyle adjustments are just as important for reducing signs of aging.
However, products containing retinolic acid have the best evidence behind them in terms of being able to reduce the appearance of fine lines, but let's be real: Having access to wildly expensive skincare most likely also equals wealth, good diet, more sleep, etc. etc., which can all reduce signs of aging.
2. You need to exfoliate
Exfoliation is an extremely important part of many a skincare routine, and it does feel pretty good — like you're scraping off the day's wear and tear. But scientists say that you do NOT actually need to exfoliate.
"A common skincare myth that I hear all the time is that you need to exfoliate. Your skin naturally sheds its superficial keratinocytes about once per month. You do not need to buy exfoliators, or undergo peels, facials, or dermabrasion to exfoliate. And you definitely do not need to use anything abrasive on your skin to achieve this, as it happens on its own," said dermatologist Dr. Anna H. Chacon.
So what does that mean for your exfoliation regimen? It's okay to keep exfoliating and it can be good for your skin, but be wary of exfoliating devices, which can irritate your skin.
"Exfoliating devices can be a good addition to your skincare routine, but the models with spinning brush heads can be overused and actually be irritating. I had a patient that used one daily to help with oily complexion and acne, only to have it cause his skin to become extra dry and irritated. Devices like these should be used only a couple of times per week for some people and others can skip them completely, but I would not recommend you using them every day consistently," says dermatologist Dr. Todd Minars.
Along these lines, there is no really one size fits all skincare routine. Cleansing, moisturizing, and SPF are necessities; the rest are superfluous.
3. Natural = healthy
This one is just a big lie. A product that contains "all natural" ingredients is NOT necessarily safer or better for your skin, so don't believe that buying the skincare product with a few leaves on it suddenly makes you Miss Gaia. The Food and Drug Administration doesn't recognize the term "natural" and hasn't created any regulations around what constitutes something that is "natural" or not.
4. You don't need sunscreen
Honey face mask
Pretty much every time someone tells you you "don't need sunscreen" for any reason, they're wrong. Wearing makeup that has SPF? You still need sunscreen. Out and about when the sun's not out? According to the science, you still need sunscreen.
If you really care about your skin, put some of the same energy into your sunscreen routine that you do into your skincare routine. But fun fact: The SPF you wear doesn't really matter that much — there's only an infinitesimal difference between SPF 50 and SPF 100, for example. Just go for a great SPF 30 sunscreen and wear it every day, according to the experts.
5. Dark circles don't necessarily mean you're tired — and eye creams won't necessarily help
Dark Circles Tiktok
I know dark circles are popular for some weird reason now, but shockingly, dark circles actually do not mean that you're tired. And all those "dark circle creams" actually may not be helping.
Sure, dark circles can be exacerbated by lack of sleep, but some people don't sleep and don't show any signs of it, while others among us sleep 12 hours a night but still have that brooding dark circles look...so yeah. Technically, dark circles form when blood and fluids aren't circulating well in your face (yikes), so don't expect that expensive cream you bought to fix everything...but of course, the debate rages on about this one. Some doctors recommend eye creams that involve caffeine.