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4 Popular Skincare Myths We're Debunking

By: Hannah Hartz

Hannah Hartz is a Chicago-based esthetician with 7 years experience. She currently works at CaTara Med Spa. Here, Hartz debunks skincare myths.

Despite the abundance of informational resources, there are some beauty and skincare myths that will not go away. Oftentimes, there seems to be just enough correlation between these stories and what we perceive to be true. We’re taking a look at some of the most pervasive of these myths. And see what truth – if any – is behind them. 

MYTH: When You Shave, Your Hair Grows Back Darker and Thicker

This theory has been around for ages, but probably became most famous on the 1997 Seinfeld episode when Kramer warns Jerry against shaving his chest, because, he claimed, the hair would come back thicker than ever. Over 20 years after said episode, I still get asked this all the time, especially when informing concerned clients that they will need to shave before undergoing a laser hair removal treatment. There is absolutely no biological logic to this. Shaving the hair is merely cutting it above the root, where the hair is already dead.

This has no stimulating effect on the growth of the hair or on the bulb in any way. But when you look at the physical shape of the hair follicle, you can see why it’s so easy to believe this misconception. The hair shaft grows in a shape similar to an elongated cone, so it is thicker at the bottom and thins out at the top. When the hair is chopped off, it’s removing the thinner, softer and less noticeable tip. While the part left behind feels thicker to the touch, and could even appear darker due to the surface area exposed, the act of shaving has not actually done anything to affect the way that the hair will continue to grow in. 

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skincare myths


MYTH: Using Toothpaste Helps to Clear Blemishes

This one probably originated when a number of folks accidentally got toothpaste on blemishes around the mouth and noticed a nice drying effect. Toothpaste usually contains baking soda, which has properties that help dry out acne. Toothpaste also frequently contains peppermint oil, which has recently garnered popularity for aiding in naturally clearing acne. Sounds pretty cool, right? But the problem with using toothpaste as an at-home remedy is that while it seems helpful at first, it is actually fairly detrimental to the skin.

Baking soda can irritate the skin and even strip too much of the skin’s essential oils; this may ultimately interfere with the skin’s ability to heal itself. The same goes for peppermint oil. When this is recommended for topical use, it has to be used with a proper carrier oil to avoid harsh effects on the skin. Toothpaste ingredients like fluoride and sulfate may also cause irritation. Ultimately, it’s better to just keep the toothpaste in your mouth!

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MYTH: Eating Pizza and Candy Can Lead to Breakouts

Consuming unhealthy foods like pizza and chocolate have always made us fear a face full of blemishes. And frequently, we really do wake up with a new zit that seems to have come out of nowhere. But was last night’s pizza really to blame? While there is definitely a connection, the answer is no. Acne actually takes a week or two to be triggered before rising to the surface.

So, what is the connection? Sometimes we crave foods we know are bad for us around our periods (for those of us who get them!). There could be some hormonal triggers already running through our skin bringing up acne that happens to correlate with a day or two after that candy binge. Also, while pizza and chocolate don’t cause acne, they could contain ingredients that people are sensitive to. Candy, most chocolate, and the grease and cheese in pizza are high in sugar and saturated fats, which lead to inflammation as well.

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MYTH: You Don’t Need to Wash Your Face at Night If You Didn’t Wear Makeup All Day

You definitely need to wash your face at night – whether you did or didn’t wear makeup that day. This myth probably surfaced because it’s easy to assume that skin is relatively clean when gunk is nowhere to be seen on your face. But by the end of the day, your skin is covered in dirt, pollution, dead skin cells, and a ton of other nastiness that you definitely do not want to be sleeping in. No matter how tired you are, there’s always time to wash your face. You don’t want an unnecessary breakout that you have to blame on a candy-binge, do you?

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