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Skincare Myths—Debunked

Protect your face and body by learning the facts behind these popular misconceptions

By Marlisse Cepeda, 3/8/13

Fact or Fiction

There are a slew of skincare dos and don’ts, but following all of this supposedly sound advice may do more harm than good. And knowing the whole story on skin will get you closer to the glowing, flawless complexion you’ve always wanted. With help from top experts, get the scoop on nine easy-to-fall-for skin myths that are actually far cries from the truth.

Greasy foods and chocolate cause breakouts.

Bingeing on pizza and candy bars obviously isn’t good for your health—or your waistline—but are they the acne-causing culprits they’re rumored to be? According to Dr. Ostad, studies have proven that neither type of food is responsible for breakouts. The false association may exist because stress hormones lead to zits—and they’re the same things that call you to the nearest cookie jar, says Michele Green, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. That’s not to say acne and diet are unrelated. If you have pimple problems, limit foods high in carbohydrates and dairy, suggests Joshua L. Fox, MD, founder and director of Advanced Dermatology, PC, of New York and New Jersey. Those are more likely to cause breakouts.
Makeup with built-in SPF is as effective as sunscreen.

As convenient as sunscreen-infused products are, relying on them for sun protection is a big no-no, says Dr. Fox. “Due to makeup’s thickness and how it binds to the skin, it would take almost 14 times the normal amount of powder used and seven times the normal amount of foundation used to get the desired amount of SPF,” he explains. Although proper sun coverage varies for everyone, a good rule of thumb: Pair SPF 15 sunscreen with SPF 15 cosmetics.

Use separate day and night creams.

Although evening is primetime for your skin’s repairing process, what’s best for your skin type is more important than whether a cream is marketed for use at a certain time of day. Have dry skin or eczema? Try a cream containing peptides or Vitamin C antioxidants, says Dr. Fox—and use it day and night. If you use anti-aging products, apply those at night, since retinol—their key ingredient—is sensitive to sunlight. Have oily skin? Too much moisturizing can clog pores and result in acne. To rejuvenate skin without the negative side effects, opt for a prescription retinoid, like Retin-A or Differin gel.

Buy skincare products labeled as containing only natural ingredients.

Thanks to clever marketing, anything “natural” is assumed to be better for you. But there’s no evidence that natural products are more effective or safer. In addition to there being no regulation on what’s labeled natural, Robyn S. Gmyrek, MD, Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at ColumbiaDoctors Midtown, reminds that “while naturally occurring ingredients aren’t synthetically produced, they still can cause allergic reactions and be harmful.” Dr. Fox’s advice: Find the right product for your specific skin issues with the help of your dermatologist—whether or not the ingredients are all natural.

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