Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tik-Tok are full of skin care related myths which are not only rubbish but can harm your skin as well.
We put a lot of importance into caring for our skin, which makes sense, cause it’s the first thing other people see.
Skin might also be one of the most misunderstood parts of our bodies. So today, we would like to run through some of the most common myths we have about our skin.
1. Healthy skin is skin that looks flawless
When we think of healthy skin we might think of a clear, even surface that’s radiant and without any blemishes. But skin is a living organ, just like the heart or lungs and just like any other organ its complex, serves many functions and not just about what’s going on at the surface.
The Epidermis is the outer layer we can see. It’s made up of different cell types including keratinocytes which are replaced every four weeks. As new cells grow at the base, old cells are pushed up and form a harder layer that’s difficult for water or microbes to cross. Our keratinocytes also synthesize Vitamin-D from the Sun, which is vital for our health.
The Dermis, our skin tough second layer, isn’t as well known. It’s a scaffold of collagen that’s home to blood vessels, hair follicles and glands. It’s also packed with special nerve cells called secondary receptors that allow us to feel pressure, vibration, even pain, some of which extend into the epidermis.
We are told to exfoliate and tone and condition our skin, to use rollers and serums and lasers. Some of that does work, especially for folks with specific skin conditions, but for normal to healthy skin, we might be spending a lot of money on bunk products because healthy skin is simply skin that does its jobs.
2. You only need sunscreen on sunny days
Ultraviolet rays from the sun are so strong that they can damage our cells’ DNA. There are two types that affect the skin. UVA rays penetrate the dermis, damaging the collagen scaffold and accelerating ageing. UVB rays, meanwhile cook the epidermis, causing sunburn.
While our cells can repair that damage, it accumulates over time and for some people it can lead to skin cancer. Our skin has a defence system so when its exposed to UV our melanocytes release more melanin and we get a tan. This process is actually our skin’s way of showing it’s been damaged and protecting itself from more.
So by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30, even when it’s cloudy, you are protecting yourself from sunburn, early aging and skin cancer.
3. People with darker skin don’t need sunscreen
Most of us produce two types of melanin – Eumelanin, associated with richer, brown tones and Pheomelanin, associated with lighter skin and freckles. Our skin colour depends on the ratio between those two types of melanin and the density of pigment creating structures within our cells.
It’s true that having more melanin, specially that first type, does offer some protection from the Sun, depending on how dark our skin is, we do have some natural SPF, but it’s not nearly enough. We all need sunscreen to ward off damage.
One particular dangerous form of skin cancer, Acral Melanoma, doesn’t even come from ultraviolet exposure, and it shows up in the parts of the body that we might not think about- nail beds and the bottom of our feet. It’s an area we need more messaging about, especially for people of colour.
4. You can shrink your pores
Pores are the tiny openings in our skin. If you go further down, you will find a hair follicle or gland. You can think of pores as ducts. They are what let sweat cool you and oil lubricate your skin.
Pore size is largely determined by genetics, and they don’t really shrink, but they can expand when our skin is irritated by makeup or harsh products.
So save your money on pore minimizers and just wash your face with what dermatologist recommend as noncomedogenic – basically made from stuff that won’t clog pores.
5. Chocolate causes acne
Acne is the inflammation that occurs when our hair follicles get clogged with oil and dead skin, allowing bacteria to overgrow. There are a lot of factors involved, from hormones to genetics.
The link between acne and chocolate has been studied extensively, but the results are pretty trash. Studies that say chocolate is an acne aggravator tends to be a small, so aren’t conclusive and studies that absolve chocolate are sometimes funded by chocolate makers.
Studying diet and its effect on acne is complex, but the research suggest that the healthiest diet for your body overall, could also be the healthiest diet for your skin.
Our skin is an amazing organ, so let’s remember to treat it right. Wear your sunscreen, keep an eye on any moles and see a dermatologist if there are any changes. And ignore those myths.