Fact or Fiction?: Debunking Common Skin Myths
- Posted on: Nov 5 2015
By Genevieve Wallace, MD
Have you ever wondered what the REAL truth is behind all the information thrown at you about your skin? Endless magazine ads, television commercials, and even friends seem to have conflicting information that leaves you confused and paralyzed. Here are a few truths to set you straight.
MYTH: Sunscreen only matters when you are going to “be outside.”
TRUTH: Sunscreen matters EVERY DAY even if you are headed to the grocery store and back home. It is the accumulation of incidental sunlight (in and out of your car, walking the dog, etc.) that leads to aging, fine lines and wrinkles, and most types of skin cancers. Melanoma however, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is also related to blistering sunburns, family history, and tanning bed usage.
TIP: Apply a facial moisturizer with sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) every morning. I recommend Elta MD Clear SPF 46, Cerave AM SPF 30, or Aveeno Positively Radiant SPF 30. Apply it to your face, neck, chest, and tops of your hands first thing after you shower or wash your face.
MYTH: Caffeine, sugar, dairy, and greasy foods make your skin break out with pimples.
TRUTH: Dairy and sugar are the only food groups that have been shown to worsen acne. In particular, dairy seems to worsen female hormonal acne. If you have a form of acne called rosacea, then sunlight, heat, and red wine can also exacerbate your condition.
TIP: If you can’t imagine giving up your daily sugar fix or your morning latte try cutting back the amount by half or switching to a non-dairy milk alternative. I recommend unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
MYTH: Anti-aging regimens are one size fits all and the more you spend the better the product.
TRUTH: The best anti-aging regimen is simple and backed by science. It looks like this: Apply sunscreen absolutely every morning and end the day with either prescription Retin-A or an over the counter retinol containing product. Also, exfoliate a few times a week with either an exfoliative cleanser or a Clarisonic cleansing brush.
TIP: If you find retinol/retin-A causes you redness or irritation try using it only 2-3 nights a week and diluting the product in a moisturizer before applying. Once you have that down, consider adding a vitamin C product under your sunscreen in the morning.
MYTH:Skin cancers are obvious and occur only in sun-exposed areas.
TRUTH: Early skin cancers can appear as subtle as a “pimple that won’t heal” or a “scaly patch” that won’t resolve. Skin cancers can occur anywhere including the soles of the feet, buttocks, and scalp.
TIP: Make an appointment with your dermatologist for an annual “full body skin exam”. This is the only surefire way to detect skin cancer early and treat it before it becomes a major health concern.
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