While each person’s skincare routine varies, there are some basic principles that apply to practically everyone. Cleansing is essential. Treat spots with toner. Don’t use oils on oily skin. These are the guidelines we’ve all been taught to follow.
But what if we told you these so-called rules are actually wrong? Katie White, founder of re:lax skin studio, says some of the advice doled out by the skincare industry is actually harming – rather than helping – our complexions. Here, she explains five common skin myths, and why we’re wrong to believe them.
Myth 1: You Need to Cleanse in the Morning
Washing your face is the first step in most people’s morning routines, but you don’t actually need to use a cleanser. “It isn’t necessary to cleanse in the morning if you are cleansing properly at night before bed,” says White. “As a golden skincare rule, you absolutely should be removing all your makeup and hydrating your skin before going to sleep. If you are doing this, you can just simply splash your face with warm water in the morning. Using a cleanser again is just a waste.”
Whether morning or night, you certainly shouldn’t be washing away all those lovely oils with soap or a foaming cleanser. “If you wake up and your skin feels greasy or still caked in the product, and you feel the need to wash your face for that fresh feeling, I would recommend using lighter products before bed rather than resorting to using a harsh cleanser in the morning to get that ‘squeaky clean’ feeling,” adds White.
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Myth 2: Use Harsh Cleansers or Toners If You Have Acne-Prone Skin
When you’re suffering a breakout, it may seem sensible to try to dry it out with strong treatments and toners. “Acne skin is inflamed and the skin is compromised. We shouldn’t be putting acids and alcohol on inflamed broken skin; we should be using gentle products,” says White.
“Also, over-cleansing with a foaming cleanser that leaves skin squeaky clean will encourage further oil production, increase inflammation, and can prevent skin from healing. Look for non-stripping cleansers, anti-inflammatory toners, and products that are kind to skin,” she recommends.
Myth 3: Don’t Use Oils If You Have Oily or Acne-Prone Skin
Similarly, when your skin is oily, the last thing you want to do is add more oil into the mix, right? Wrong. “Oiliness can be caused by many different reasons – including stress, diet, and genetics – but it can also be caused by lack of hydration,” says White.
“Our skin is designed to have an oily layer called the ‘acid mantle’; this is our first line of defense. Using harsh products can strip this back, so then the skin sends signals to the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Using oils can have the opposite effect; it can decrease oil production as the skin recognizes it is hydrated.” White recommends using lighter oils like jojoba, marula, or squalene.
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Myth 4: Extractions Get Rid of Blackheads
Love them or hate them, extractions – when the therapist uses a tool or their fingers to squeeze blackheads from your pores – are a part of many facial treatments. “Blackheads form when oil that comes through pores to keep skin hydrated, oxidizes with air, and turns black,” White explains.
“By squeezing or extracting, some oil comes out and some is pushed further down into the epidermis. This causes inflammation and can push bacteria into the skin – perfect spot-forming ingredients!” The best way to tackle blackheads, she advises, is with acids (such as salicylic or beta hydroxy acids) or using clays.
Myth 5: If a Product Burns or Hurts, That Means It’s Working
Products like exfoliating masks have got to sting a bit if they’re doing their job, haven’t they? “No!” says White. “More likely, it means you’re having a reaction to the product and you should discontinue using it. Skin is complex and delicate in different ways, and not every product suits every skin type. If something is damaging the skin, it is definitely doing more harm than good.”
White has a rule of thumb to tell whether a product is too harsh for your skin: “Pink is good, red is bad. If you have sensitive skin, use more calming ingredients.”