There's so much advice about skin and hair-care that comes our way all the time that it can be hard to separate fact from marketing drivel trying to exploit our worst insecurities and fears to get us to buy more and more products each day to achieve impossibly high beauty standards. The truth is, our body is a miracle and the skin is a particularly impressive organ which requires very basic, but sustained, assistance to stay healthy and look great on its own. Here are 10 major skin and hair care myths most of us have grown up believing in, but are actually completely untrue.
You can open, shrink and close your pores
A facial might make you look and feel great, but the next time your parlour didi tells you that honey, she shrunk your pores, take it with a pinch of salt. Your genetic makeup decides the size of your pores, and no beauty treatment can alter that. What does happen is that when dirt and oil collect in the pores, they stretch and appear bigger. During a cleanup or a facial, your beautician loosens and then removes the grime lodged within the pores, making it go back to its original size. Clear pores are great for skin health, but unfortunately, they cannot be shrunk.
Plucking out grey hair might damage follicles and create bald patches.
Pulling out grey hair will result in more grey hair at the same spot
On the contrary, plucking out hair might permanently damage the hair follicle and create bald patches. Unless your hair follicles are merging with one another, which is rare, only one hair will grow per follicle. So while plucking grey hair might not result in a forest of grey hair, to prevent bald patches, it is better to either leave it as is or stick to colouring to hide the grey.
Cocoa butter prevents stretch marks
Cocoa butter as a "solution" for stretch marks is touted on almost every pregnancy forum. Unfortunately, research shows that it hardly has any bearing on the development, severity or appearance of striae (the medical term for stretch marks). A 2008 double-blinded study (where neither the subjects, nor the researchers know which test subject belongs to which pool in the study) of 175 first-time pregnant women in their first trimester showed that there was no difference in the stretch marks of those that were using cocoa butter and those that weren't. A 2012 review of six trials involving 800 women concluded that application of no Vitamin E-enriched formula, including olive oil and cocoa butter, had proved effective in preventing stretch marks.
SPF foundation is enough for sun protection
Using foundation with in-built sun protection is great, but nowhere close to being enough since it cannot protect us from both UVA and UVB rays, especially since most of us don't keep refreshing our makeup through the day. For proper sun protection you must use a sunscreen with SPF 30 every day, even when you are indoors and SPF 50 on days when there is prolonged skin exposure. Foundations with SPF provide additional protection, but cannot be a replacement for a good quality sunscreen.
Trimming hair makes it grow faster
Hair grows at the root, in your scalp, not at the ends. So trimming can't possibly have any effect on how fast or slowly your hair grows—only your genetics can determine that. What can slow down hair growth is a deficiency of protein, Vitamin B complex and zinc. Even though it has no bearing on your hair growth, regular trimming is good for the hair because it gets rid of the split ends and prevents breakage from reaching the hair follicle, eventually. Getting rid of split ends will make your hair look healthier and voluminous.
Drinking lots of water keeps your skin hydrated
Your skin is moisturised by its oils, not water. While water is necessary for radiant skin, it is because the skin is a great indicator of the body's overall health and hydration. In and of itself, skin can only be hydrated through natural oil production or by applying topical creams, lotions and oils that suit your skin type.
Don't brush curly hair
This one is partially true. Brushing curly hair when it is dry can make frizzy and break easily. Unlike straight hair, the best time to brush curly hair is when they are towel-dried after shampooing and deep conditioning. Better still, use a little serum — enough to form a coin-sized circle on your palm — or leave-in conditioner. Then use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to get rid of the tangles and knots.
Toothpastes are a good way to get rid of pimples
They might get the job done, but toothpaste shouldn't be a part of your skincare regimen. Toothpastes contain xylitol (an alcohol), triclosan (an anti-bacterial agent) and fine abrasives to polish your teeth. The same three ingredients are also used in pimple removal creams, since pimples are actually just clogged pores with bacterial growth. However, treatment creams also contain ingredients that fight acne such as salicylic, glycolic or alpha-hydroxy acid and benzoyl peroxide, whereas the texture of toothpastes can cause burning, inflammation and redness if used for a prolonged period. Use toothpaste in an emergency, if you must, definitely not on a regular basis.
Shaving makes hair grow back coarser
Hair is thickest at the base and becomes finer towards the end. When you shave, the hair is cut off at its widest portion, which is what we see initially when it starts growing. Since shaved hair is blunt and not tapered, we feel that the hair that's growing is coarser and thicker. Shaving cannot affect the quality or the quantity of hair growth because it has no effect on the root in any way.
The faster you start using anti-ageing products, the better it is for your skin
A whole lot of skin-care and anti-ageing products peddled to women in their 20s and early 30s promise to renew your cells and repair collagen. The truth is that at that age, the skin is naturally elastic and healthy enough to repair itself. Contrary to slowing down the appearance of wrinkles, using anti-ageing products too soon might irritate the skin due to the heaviness of the products. The two best anti-ageing precautions everyone must start as early as possible is to avoid smoking since it leads to premature wrinkling and negatively impacts collagen production and sun protection by using an SPF 30 sunscreen daily. Prematurely using injections of fillers to prevent future wrinkling is expensive and dangerous, since a person might not even need fillers for the areas being injected, which may lead to permanent disfigurement.