13 Common Skincare Myths Debunked By An Expert Dermatologist

13 Common Skincare Myths Debunked By An Expert Dermatologist

Whether it’s the latest miracle ingredient or K-beauty trend to try, the rules of skincare aren’t always clear-cut. Should you be double cleansing and does two litres of water really make a difference to your skin? We sat down with consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto ahead of the launch of her new beauty tome, The Skincare Bible, to find out everything you've always wanted to know about creating a clearer complexion…

1. Double Cleansing Isn’t A Prerequisite

Traditional double cleansing involved using an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based or foaming cleanser. These days most of us take double cleansing to mean cleaning the skin twice – regardless of the type of cleanser used. Double cleansing at night is useful for removing make-up, pollution, dirt and grime from the skin’s surface in normal or oily skin types. However, it isn’t for everyone; over-washing dry or very sensitive skin can lead to irritation.

2. SPF Is The One

Forget other ingredients claiming to be the latest anti-ageing miracle – sunscreen is the most important product in protecting your skin from the effects of ageing. The majority of the signs we associate with skin ageing – fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation or sunspots – occur due to sun-exposure. For anyone concerned about anti-ageing, sunscreen is the single most important product to use. This should ideally be an SPF30 or above, offering broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB from sunlight.

3. SPF In Make-Up Isn’t Enough

Generally speaking, no one uses enough moisturiser or foundation to get effective protection from the sun, so you should always wear a separate sunscreen under your make-up. Secondly, SPF is only a marker of protection from UVB light from the sun; UVA rays can also be damaging and broad-spectrum sunscreens offer protection against this whereas moisturisers and make-up may not.

4. Always Use An Eye Cream

You’ve heard it many times before but using an eye cream really is essential if you’re on a mission for a more youthful complexion. The majority of eye creams have excellent hydrating properties that can temporarily improve the appearance of fine lines by plumping out the skin. The eye area is thin and sensitive so be wary of using anything with retinol, fruit acids or highly concentrated vitamins, which can lead to dryness, redness, peeling or swelling.

5. Believe The Pollution Myth

Air pollution is packed full of harmful substances which have been shown time and time again to have detrimental effects on the skin, including premature skin ageing and potential worsening of skin conditions such as eczema. Using an antioxidant serum may limit this damage – aim to use twice a day – and always ensure the skin is cleansed thoroughly at night to remove the remainders of the day.

6. Ditch Make-Up Wipes

Every single dermatologist will tell you to ditch make-up wipes – they do your skin no favours. They should only be used when there is no other option for cleansing. Make-up wipes can cause irritation as agents are deposited onto the skin without being rinsed away.

7. Avoid Complex Regimes

Recent trends in skincare, particularly from Asia, involve complex multi-step layering of skincare products. However, many of these products aren’t made to be used together and applying a large number of active ingredients onto the skin can trigger allergy, sensitivity or irritation. It's much better to identify one or two skincare concerns and then use multi-purpose ingredients to address these. If in doubt, a good cosmetic dermatologist can assess your skin and advise appropriately.

8. Natural Isn’t Always Better

There’s a huge misconception that if a product is natural or organic it is safer or better for the skin – this is categorically not the case. Firstly, there is no unifying legal definition for 'natural' or 'organic' – what I consider to be natural may not be what you consider to be natural; even the various certification bodies for these products don’t share the same criteria. Secondly, many 'natural' products contain plants or herbal extracts, which have the ability to cause allergy and irritation in the same way as a synthetic product.

9. Your Skincare Won’t Stop Working

The concept that your skin can get used to products over time and essentially stop working is a myth. The reality is, your skin’s needs change as you age, explaining why certain products may no longer seem to be as effective. Whether it’s down to hormonal fluctuations or pregnancy, it’s important to be in tune with your skin and adapt your skincare to its changing needs.

10. Cellulite Creams Are A Waste Of Money

Cellulite is extremely tricky to treat once developed and there isn’t much evidence to back up the use of anti-cellulite creams – many of these contain caffeine as an active ingredient and may temporarily improve the skin’s appearance if cellulite is mild. The only treatments that do work – albeit with varying degrees of success – are dry brushing, weight loss/building muscle via strength training, and clinic-based devices such as Cellfina.

11. Oils Aren’t For Everyone

Just because a facial oil claims to be natural or organic doesn’t mean it’s going to be right for your skin. Get to know what works for your skin and as a general rule, unless you have very dry skin, try to avoid using an oil-based cleanser (these often claim to ‘dissolve’ like an oil) – these are often so far removed from oils and carry none of the benefits. Many of these types of cleanser can be comedogenic, or have the ability to block pores, leading to spots, so steer clear if you are prone to oiliness.

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