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Today I thought it would be fun, informative, and so on to bust some common skincare myths. Let's get straight into it...

I'm actually going to not link any specific individual studies in this post because I really think these are topics you should research yourself. Not all dermatologists agree on everything and for one study that reaches a conclusion, another study could say something totally different; it's about reading as many sources as possible and discerning what the general consensus is, which is what I did with drawing my conclusions, as well as looking critically at who's funding studies and may have a vested interest in their findings. However, don't simply take my opinion as fact; please look into all of these topics yourself to form a well-rounded opinion.

You need to use products all from the same brand for them to work

This is such an obvious marketing tactic that unfortunately I see a lot of women older than me still getting caught out by. It's something I really associate with department store beauty counters and old school brands like Clinique and Clarins. Obviously, if a brand has different systems designed to compliment each other for a specific skin type; that's great, however as long as you're keeping an eye on the INCI lists of the products you're using to ensure everything is going to be compatible, there's zero reason why everything would need to be from the same brand. If x product doesn't work without y product, x product is probably a bit rubbish. Don't get suckered in or flustered by high-pressure sales tactics! 

Certain ingredients can never be mixed

Whilst it's true that some ingredients are harder to formulate together in a stable product that's gentle enough for most people to use regularly, this doesn't mean they can never be mixed. Vitamin C and niacinamide are two ingredients commonly cited as ones you should never combine, however I've tried many fantastic products featuring both. They key here is that I don't use a niacinamide serum and then a different Vitamin C serum afterwards; I find a product formulated to give me the maximum benefits of both. Whether some of these combinations might be a bit strong for some skin types is another matter altogether, but almost every ingredient can be combined if they're formulated carefully.

Oily skin doesn't need moisturiser

This is one that men in particular are guilty of! (I'm giving my boyfriend the side-eye across the sofa as I write this...) Firstly, oily skin has an excess of sebum, but it can still be dehydrated (lacking in water) and moisturisers contain humectants as well as oils, which attract water. If you have to; just try a water-based, oil-free gel-cream. Additionally, if you keep using harsh cleansers and over-exfoliating then not moisturising your skin; you'll strip it of all the oils it does need (effectively attacking your barrier function) and your skin may try to redress that balance by producing more sebum.

You must double-cleanse every evening with an oil and a gel cleanser

I'm a big advocate of the double cleanse, but that evangelism is more directed towards those who move their makeup around their face every evening with a wipe and call it a day. If you're into skincare and you understand your skin but you've decided this prescriptive system isn't for you: that's fine. Most cleansers will do a good job of breaking down sunscreen (it doesn't have to be oil-based) so if I'm not wearing makeup, quite often I'll just cleanse once. I personally don't tend to go for cleansers that are really heavy-duty and marketed as an all-in-one to remove makeup and cleanse the skin in a single step, because I often find them a bit harsh on my skin. That's just personal preference. However, if you have very dry skin and you like using just an oil cleanser in the evening and this doesn't break you out: keep doing what you're doing. If you prefer a cream second cleanse over a foaming gel: go for it. If you don't like the feeling of oils and find a different sort of formula removes your makeup gently and effectively: stick with that. Ultimately, there's no 'one size fits all' method when it comes to these things; as long as your skin is clean, your barrier isn't disrupted and you aren't breaking out as a result of your cleansing routine, then just go with whatever works for you!

Calling any ingredient 'anti-ageing' (besides retinoids and sunscreen)

Do I enjoy peptides and collagen within my skincare routine? Yes. Do I anecdotally find they give me smoother, plumper skin? Absolutely. Are there enough studies out there for me to say that applying these expensive ingredients topically will encourage collagen production? Nope. Therefore, proceed at your own risk (or, I guess, at your bank balance's risk). Personally, I think that if you don't have a ton of money to spend on skincare and you just want to invest in what science has proven time and time again the efficacy of: get yourself a sunscreen that's broad spectrum SPF 50 and comfortable to wear on an everyday basis (so no white cast, thick textures or pilling up - personally I recommend Korean brands, as you can get this for under £20) and a form of retinoid. Sunscreen is preventative measure, so it's not going to reverse ageing, but it's never too late to avoid further environmental damage to the skin. Retinoids are the only ingredient that studies have pretty conclusively determined can increase collagen production and repair damage already done to the skin. If you see products making these claims that don't involve sunscreen or retinoids: it's just marketing, what they're probably doing is just moisturising or hydrating the skin which can sometimes plump out the look of fine lines but it's a temporary effect as opposed to reversing the signs of ageing. 

Skincare alone will just 'cure' acne

A good skincare routine is definitely critical in the battle against acne at any age, but what I'm really getting at here are brands flogging very expensive skincare systems for acne, advertising them with suspicious 'before and after' images (you know the ones: in one image the teenager is plagued by painful cystic acne and in the second their skin is entirely clear and flawless). For me, it's morally reprehensible to prey on the deepest vulnerability many people have (particularly when it comes to teenagers, who are a little more naive), promising perfect skin for the small price of £150, split into 6 easy payments... Scarring, texture and relapses are all expected parts of most people's acne journey; it's a chronic condition, at the end of the day. I honestly think most of these products are very strong and harsh and don't come with sufficient warnings. They often contain lots of fragrance (which is really not great on acne), have substandard formulations and probably aren't suitable for daily use. Personally, I'd recommend saving your money and visiting your GP to get referred to a dermatologist who can walk you through your options if acne is having a negative impact on your self-image and confidence. Not all acne is going to be responsive to topical treatments or the strength of product you can buy in the beauty aisles, so it's worth a shot and in the very least you'll get some recommendations on the formulas a professional has found to be effective for their patients. 

Everyone should avoid all types of fragrance in skincare

This is an entire can of worms in and of itself! The popularity of the likes of Hyram and Dr Dray (who is in fact a dermatologist so her opinion definitely holds weight for me, but there are also other dermatologists and cosmetic chemists who disagree with her stance on this, so you have to weigh up these professional opinions against each other) have led to a blanket demonisation of fragrance. I totally get that many people want to err on the side of caution and a dermatologist like Dr Dray sees a lot of serious skin complaints, so of course she isn't going to recommend using products that could contribute towards that, even if the majority of people won't have that reaction. I know Hyram (who I do love!) is all about 'ingredients don't lie' but personally, I think that looking at an INCI list is a bit of a flawed approach to deciding whether a product is good or not, because this tells you nothing about formulation. Likewise, there are now so many people on the internet who decide a product is complete trash just because it contains fragrance, and frankly; it's exhausting. Very few people as a percentage of the population, based on my research, develop fragrance allergies. Personally, if my skin is already irritated; I don't use fragrance, just like I don't use strong AHAs or retinol, because I want to focus on calming things down and replenishing the barrier. That doesn't mean all such ingredients are evil all the time. Just do your own research and draw your own conclusions as opposed to parroting what you've heard from the extreme end of the scale at everyone who dares recommend a product that contains fragrant components on social media.

People of Colour don't need to wear sunscreen

I honestly believed this until embarrassingly recently... Whilst it's true that the average caucasian skin gives a natural SPF of under 5 vs. black skin having around SPF 13, that's still incredibly exposed compared to skin protected by sunscreen. Dark skin can still age and can still suffer burning, and the worst-case scenario: melanoma. Everyone needs sunscreen and if you're worried about white cast, again I really recommend the Korean brands.

What are your thoughts on these skincare topics? Are there any skin myths you want to put to bed?

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Read more posts from this series here!

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