You know your Retinol from your Niacinamide and consider sleeping in make-up a cardinal sin, but can you separate skincare myth from fact? From whether it’s really possible to shrink your pores to just how much you need to spend on products Dr Qian Xu, founder and Medical Director of Skin Aesthetics and Alumier MD expert debunks eight of the biggest skincare myths.
Myth 1: Vitamin E fades scars
Anecdotal reports claim that Vitamin E can be effective at fading scars, but Dr Xu says that is not the case. “Time does the most to fade scars, though creams and lotions with hyaluronic acid, retinols, and the medication tretinoin can help to reduce the appearance. Laser therapy and microneedling to encourage collagen and elastin production can help with scar reduction. My main advice would be to avoid direct exposure to the sun as scars tend to darken with sunlight.”
Myth 2: You can shrink your pores
Despite myriad products telling you otherwise, no, you can’t shrink your pores. “The size of your pores is mostly due to your genetics, age and skin type,” says Dr Xu. As we age our pores can start to appear larger due to our skin slowing down production of collagen and losing its elasticity. This stretches and sags the skin making our pores look bigger.” So, is there anything we can do to impact pore size? “We have two types of pores, one releases natural oils and the other sweat. Sometimes the oil-releasing pores can appear enlarged,” explains Dr Xu. “Whilst we can’t shrink the pore, there are ways to minimise the appearance. Incorporating monthly facials into your skincare routine can help.”
Myth 3: You can use the same products for your day and night routines
If, like us, you’ve wondered whether you really need an AM and PM specific skincare routine, the answer is not necessarily, according to Dr Xu. “Some products, such as a gentle cleanser, can be used both day and night. However, during the day your skin is in ‘protect’ mode and you should help it by using products that offer defence from free radicals and sunscreen.” Vitamins like A, E and C are known for their free radical fighting properties.
“At night your skin is no longer warding off pollutants and the sun so your night-time products should be more restorative. Retinol, for example, should only be used at night as it encourages cell turnover.” says Dr Xu.
Myth 4: You don’t need to wear sunscreen if your makeup has SPF
We know how much easier – and cheaper – life would be if this were true, but alas, it’s not. “While the extra sun protection in your make up is a bonus, it shouldn’t be your main point of defence against the sun,” explains Dr Xu. “We never apply enough makeup to provide sufficient SPF coverage during the day. Your makeup may also not provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays. So, stick to a broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply it liberally throughout the day.
Myth 5: The more you wash your face, the cleaner and healthier your skin is
It may sound logical, but your skin barrier would disagree. “Washing your face too much can do more harm than good, often leading to dry, irritated skin that is vulnerable to breakouts and infections,” says Dr Xu. “Washing with a gentle face wash will help to unclog pores and dissolve the residue that has built up over the course of the day. The main thing is not to overdo the cleaning because it will make your skin dry and will cause the oil glands in the skin to produce extra sebum. To keep the skin’s natural barrier unharmed and glowing, I recommend using a simple, non-exfoliating face wash morning and evening.”
Myth 6: Facial wipes are as good as a cleanser
“These wipes are actually not designed to cleanse your skin and should not be used as your primary method of makeup removal,” says Dr Xu. “The chemicals in them to keep them moist also coat your skin so will gradually block your pores. These wipes are handy for emergencies only.” Combine ineffective cleansing with terrible environmental credentials and it’s time to eradicate wipes from your routine.
Myth 7: Budget skincare products are just as effective as expensive ones
You know how much we love an affordable skincare brand, so we’re devastated to hear Dr Xu say this isn’t true: “Unfortunately, in most cases you get what you pay for and whilst it might not be initially obvious, over time it becomes apparent. Some poor-quality skincare ingredients can have an adverse effect on the skin in the long term, particularly synthetic ingredients which have been known to build up toxicity in the skin over time.”
But, not everything in your skincare arsenal has to be super-spendy. “Try to look for quality over quantity. Your skin only needs a couple of quality products to survive – I’d always advise investing in a quality cleanser and broad-spectrum sunscreen.”
Myth 8: People with oily skin don’t need to moisturise
Oh yes they do. “You do need to moisturise at least once a day,” says Dr Xu. “The oil glands in the skin go into overdrive to compensate for being dehydrated, making your skin feel even oilier. If you have oily skin then use a lightweight moisturiser that is non comedogenic so that they are less likely to clog pores.”