Debunking 8 Common Skincare Misconceptions

When it comes to taking care of your skin, there are a lot of myths out there. We spoke to dermatologists about the most common skincare misconceptions to debunk them once and for all.

While a little tingling with some products is normal, any stinging or burning may indicate an allergic reaction and should be stopped immediately. Also, a moisturizer is essential no matter your skin type.

1. Your Skin Can Get Used to Products Over Time

There’s no scientific evidence that your skin builds up an immunity to products over time. It’s possible that if you are constantly switching up your skincare routine, you might be adding one that doesn’t play well with the rest (for example, retinol and sunscreen shouldn’t be used together because they can interfere with each other). However, the main sign that a product has become ineffective is irritation, so if you start feeling a stinging sensation when you apply your cream, it’s probably time to switch it up.

It’s also important to remember that your genetics play a huge role in how your skin looks. Even if you follow the best skincare practices, it might take some time to find what works for your skin. However, if your skin seems to have plateaued or isn’t looking as glowing as it used to, there are likely other factors that you can address, like nutrition, exercise and stress. It’s also helpful to speak with a board-certified dermatologist about any skincare concerns you have.

2. You Don’t Need to Wash Your Face in the Morning

It’s a skincare habit that most of us stick to without much thought, but washing your face in the morning might be doing more harm than good. While rinsing your face in the morning is essential for removing any residue from nighttime serums and moisturizers, a full cleansing routine is unnecessary.

Instead, opt for a micellar water or gentle cleanser that’s light on the skin, says Gonzalez. “This will leave your skin hydrated, ready to take on the day,” she says.

If you have incredibly oily skin, however, Markowitz agrees that a morning wash is necessary to remove excess sebum. “Oil can build up overnight, leading to clogged pores,” she says.

If you are a true believer in the power of morning cleaning, Buldini cautions against stripping the skin of its natural oils, which could lead to further dryness. She recommends opting for a lighter cleanser that also contains some barrier-boosting ingredients.

3. You Don’t Need to Moisturize if You Have Oily Skin

Moisturizing your skin is a vital skincare step, even if you have oily skin. But many people with oily skin skip this step out of fear that it will make their skin greasier. The truth is that moisturizers actually help balance out your skin’s oil production, which can be an issue for those with oily skin.

If you have oily skin, look for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizing product that is non-comedogenic. This will prevent your pores from getting blocked, which can lead to blackheads and whiteheads. It should also contain humectants, which are ingredients that draw water from the lower layers of your skin to the outermost layer.

Avoid moisturizers that contain occlusive agents, such as mineral oil, cocoa butter, and petrolatum, as these can create an excess of oil. Instead, opt for a product that contains dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which will not cause your skin to feel greasy. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables. This will also keep your skin hydrated and prevent it from feeling dry and flaky.

4. You Can’t Get Rid of Acne With Greasy Foods

Eating greasy foods can make your skin oily, but it won’t cause acne. That’s because acne results from an overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands, which can be triggered by a variety of things like clogged pores, bacteria, and hormonal changes. The fat in greasy foods is also not directly responsible for causing acne, because the skin only becomes greasy when the oils come into direct contact with it (like when you touch a fryer basket with greasy hands).

But eating high-glycemic foods like white bread, rice, and boxed macaroni and cheese can lead to acne breakouts by rapidly raising blood sugar levels and stimulating insulin production, which can boost the production of oil and lead to clogged pores. This is why it’s important to choose a low-glycemic diet that’s rich in whole foods and avoid processed junk foods.

In the end, genetics plays a much bigger role in acne than your skincare routine or diet, but you can take steps to have healthy skin and help prevent acne breakouts by changing some of your habits and using products that are designed for your specific needs.

5. You Don’t Need to Wear Sunscreen Every Day

If there’s one skincare myth that abounds, it’s the belief that you don’t need to wear sunscreen every day. Spending time in the sun is healthy and can help you get your vitamin D, but too much unprotected exposure to UV rays can cause damage to the skin. This can lead to skin cancer, wrinkling and pigmentation changes.

In fact, sunscreen is the easiest way to prevent sun damage. It can also prevent premature aging and protect your skin from rosacea, eczema and acne flare-ups.

It’s important to use a broad spectrum sunscreen and reapply it frequently. It’s also helpful to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, especially when spending a lot of time outside.

It’s also important to note that even if you spend most of your time indoors, it’s still necessary to wear sunscreen. This is because harmful UV rays can penetrate glass, and they can accumulate over time. Even a short stroll at lunchtime can put you at risk, so it’s best to be safe.

6. You Can’t Get Rid of Wrinkles With Age-Defying Products

Even though anti-aging products can help minimize fine lines and wrinkles, they won’t completely eliminate them. They also won’t reverse DNA damage or cure rosacea.

The Food and Drug Administration has started to take on beauty companies that make over-the-top claims about their wrinkle creams. The FDA recently sent a warning letter to Strivectin, which makes a line of anti-aging products sold at Costco and Nordstrom. The reason why: the company’s wrinkle creams claim to “alter the structure or function of the skin,” which is a big no-no.

There are a lot of wrinkle treatments out there, from medical-grade retinol to over-the-counter ones that promise to plump your skin and make your lines less visible. This retinol resurgence is seen in tiktok trends nowadays. But if you want to keep your wrinkles at bay, stick to simple skincare habits like wearing sunscreen and using moisturizer. And try to avoid over-treating your face with products, as too many can cause dryness and clog pores. Instead, eat a diet rich in health-boosting nutrients to support healthy skin. Plus, you should avoid tanning beds, as overexposure to UV rays can cause premature aging.

7. You Can’t Prevent Acne With Exfoliation

A can’t-skip skincare step for baby-soft smoothness and a radiant glow, exfoliation is also essential for acne prevention. Exfoliating helps sweep away dulling surface debris that could otherwise clog the pores, which is one of the main causes of breakouts. When clogged pores are exposed to excess oil and shed skin cells, they become a breeding ground for acne bacteria. Both physical (scrubs) and chemical (AHAs like glycolic acid and BHAs such as salicylic acid) exfoliants help remove dead skin cells.

But it’s important not to over-exfoliate and use a gentle, exfoliating product with non-abrasive ingredients. Over-exfoliation can strip the skin’s natural barrier and lead to irritation, which can contribute to acne breakouts.

A little tingling when you exfoliate is normal but if it’s painful or burning, it may indicate that you have sensitive skin or an allergy to an ingredient. In that case, stick with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer to avoid further irritation. Then you can slowly add back in an exfoliant and treatment products after your skin is back to baseline.

8. You Can’t Get Rid of Dark Spots With Sunscreen

The primary function of sunscreen is to protect the skin from UV rays that can cause sunburn and increase the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen does not remove or fade dark spots that are caused by sun damage, although it can help prevent the appearance of new dark marks and patches.

When the skin is exposed to the sun, it produces an abundance of melanin pigments to act as a natural sunscreen and protect the DNA in the cells from harmful UV rays. However, excessive sun exposure can cause the production of excess melanin and lead to sunspots.

While there are a variety of skincare treatments, like chemical exfoliation and retinols, that can help fade dark spots, the best way to get rid of existing marks is with regular use of a physical exfoliant that contains glycolic acid or lactic acid. The daily application of a mineral sunscreen that offers a high level of UV protection will also help to prevent the formation of dark spots in the future. Discover our best sunscreens for dark spots and hyperpigmentation here.