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Quick Question: Are You Still Believing These 7 Skincare Myths?

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Main image – Bruceandrebeccameissner/Stocksy

The world of skincare is vast, to say the least. Even as a beauty editor, it can get a little confusing to keep up with the latest products, information and studies.

As with most things in life, we’re always learning and always changing. This is also true when it comes to age-old beauty advice that, thanks to new tech and expert advice, we’re slowly unlearning. But how many skin myths are you still believing? Quite a few I’d suspect. Like that you don’t have to buy your entire skincare routine from the same brand, or that your skin type shouldn’t solely dictate how you approach your skincare.

To help debunk some of these myths, I’ve called in the help of three skincare experts to share common misconceptions they hear, why it isn’t true, and what you can actually do to help.

Better skin practices this way…


MYTH 1: Pore size can shrink

Truth: Sadly our poor size cannot change, despite what you may have heard (even from beauty professionals) about opening and closing your pores — particularly when it comes to water temperature.

It’s dictated by “various internal and external factors, including environment and genetics,” says Olya Thomson, facial practitioner and founder of Olya Thomson Aesthetics.

This means that factors like skin type, sun exposure and your age can impact whether or not your pores are more visible than others’. Then you’ve got genetics, which obviously you cannot control or change, so time to blame those ancestors… Just kidding.


Image – Sergefilimonov/Stocksy


But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you can’t minimise the appearance of them. “Skincare can help resurface the top layer of the skin and balance oil production,” says Thomson. You can work towards a smoother, more even-textured complexion with the use of a targeted skincare routine.

“Include acids on a regular basis (my favourites are lactic, salicylic and glycolic) and retinoids,” says Thomson. “Depending on the skin condition, you need to choose the right concentration and remember: it takes time for the skin to adjust to these active ingredients.

Therefore, slowly introduce them in lighter concentration to begin with,” she adds.

Confused on all things acids? We get it, it’s a lot. The general rule is:

  • Glycolic – You’ve probably heard of glycolic acid the most, it’s an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and is the most powerful since its molecule sizes are smaller and can get deep into the skin better. It can give impressive results when it comes to pore appearance reduction. Not everyone’s skin is tolerant to glycolic though, so proceed with a little caution.
  • Lactic – Lactic acid is another AHA, but it’s perfect for sensitive skin types that can’t tolerate a lot of other acids as it has a larger molecule type so can’t penetrate the skin as deeply. It works to unclog pores as well as increase moisture in the skin, so you can think of it as a smart 2-in-1.
  • Salicylic – Salicylic acid is a beta hyroxy acid (BHA), ideal for oily- and acne-prone skin that needs help decongesting. What’s more, this acid is oil-soluble meaning it can also penetrate oil glands in the skin, removing gunk from deep within. Over time, this gives the appearance of smaller pores.

Need more info? Read our guide to all the skincare acids.

When it comes to retinol, we urge you to take Thomson’s advice on introducing slowly. Do that and you’ll be rewarded because retinoids are fantastic at unclogging pores so are an excellent addition to a skincare routine targeting that.

If you’re struggling with pore size and an oily complexion, whatever you do, don’t pick at your skin or try to squeeze pores away, this just makes them more visible. The same goes for overdoing it on the skincare, a low and slow approach always yields better results.


MYTH 2: Toothpaste can heal acne

Truth: This one hurts my heart the most I think. Yes, many of us put toothpaste on our spots when we were teens, but we know better now.

Toothpaste has a drying effect on the skin, and although it can be tempting to want to dry spots out, what you’re actually doing is damaging your skin’s moisture barrier which will make it harder for the skin to heal,” says Ada Ooi, celebrity facialist and founder of 001 Skincare.

Toothpaste isn’t formulated to be safe or kind to the skin, containing ingredients like “sodium lauryl sulphate can throw your skin’s pH off- balance, causing sensitivity and irritation,” she adds. All of this means that instead of helping to heal your spots, you’re likely making them even worse.

Instead, use a targeted spot treatment. Yep, they really do work at minimising the spot, calming inflammation, and reducing the risk of post-spot pigmentation. Repeat after me: I will not put toothpaste on my spots.


MYTH 3: Blemish-prone skin needs washing multiple times a day

Truth: Washing the face with various alcohol-based products, multiple times a day sadly won’t rid your acne. In fact, it’ll likely cause it to linger far longer.

“Overwashing acne-prone skin can strip the skin and disrupt the barrier function,” explains celebrity facialist, Abi Oleck. The skin barrier is so important to maintain as “bacteria can enter the skin with a damaged or reduced barrier function, this is why using products to repair it is paramount and skin-stripping products are a myth,” she adds.


Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy


The truth is, “most patients with oily and acne-prone skin need just a daily wash with an oil-based product,” Oleck says. “The product chosen should be gentle and one that helps repair the barrier function and is soothing, rather than stripping the delicate skin, worsening inflammation and disrupting the barrier function further.”


MYTH 4: Organic skincare products are always better for the skin

Truth: Let’s all scream it from the rooftops together: just because a product is natural doesn’t make it better for your skin. Phew, I feel better, do you?

“Although organic skincare may benefit the skin, organic natural skincare is not necessarily as effective or safe to use on the skin,” explains Thomson. This is because high concentrations of organic ingredients can actually cause irritation and reactions in the skin, which is especially true for those with sensitive skin like rosacea and eczema.

Products with lab-made ingredients are so well tested and controlled that you’re far less likely to get a reaction from them. This also includes essential oils, “while they can be absolutely great for the skin, higher concentrations of essential oils can cause skin irritations, as well as cause hypersensitivity,” Thomson adds.


Image – Katarinaradovic/Stocksy


In addition, you’re less likely to have issues with mould with man-made products that contain preservatives. Plus, you’re getting more bang for your buck when your products aren’t immediately going off and you’re having to repurchase. Oh, and let’s not even dive into the environmental impacts of natural products being seen as better than lab-made when, in fact, it’s often the opposite. That’s a story for another day.

If you still love your natural skincare products then by all means continue using them, just “be sure to read the labels carefully and patch-test products prior to using them all over to avoid any reactions,” Thomson says.


MYTH 5: Coconut oil is a good moisturiser

Truth: I’m sorry to break it to you but coconut oil doesn’t make a fantastic moisturiser.

“Coconut oil has had a real resurgence for those preferring a minimal and very clean beauty regime, but usage has shown that very quickly the skin can break out,” says Ooi. This is “because coconut oil is composed of large molecules which just sit on the skin’s surface and don’t lock any moisture in,” she adds.

Coconut oil is also highly comedogenic, “meaning it can clog pores, so it’s especially unsuitable for oily or acne-prone skin as it can make breakouts worse.”

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy oils in your routine, but look for something non-comedogenic, which is specifically formulated for use on the skin.


MYTH 6: The order you apply skincare products in doesn’t matter

Truth: Skincare is a bit like following a recipe, it’s just not going to work if the order isn’t right.

“It’s a critical aspect of an effective skincare routine to allow products to absorb properly and work in synergy with each other, otherwise you’re simply wasting your skincare products,” explains Ooi. “Proper sequencing ensures that each product can deliver its full potential and benefit your skin optimally.”

A typical skincare routine starts with cleansing to rid dirt and leftover makeup from the day and give you a clean canvas to work with. Then, as a general rule, you’re going to want to work from thinnest consistency to thickest (though this doesn’t always apply; it can be worth knowing if you’re ever stuck).

Start with your lightweight, water-based products such as toners and essences. Next “move on to serums or treatments, which are designed to address specific concerns like acne, ageing, or pigmentation. These products contain active ingredients that need to penetrate deeply into the skin.”


Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy


Follow this with your moisturiser to hydrate the skin and form a protective barrier locking all that other skincare goodness in. And in the morning, always finish with your sunscreen to protect your skin. “Applying products in the correct order ensures that each product can work effectively without interference and promotes a healthier, more radiant complexion,” Ooi explains.


MYTH 7: Oily skin does not need moisturiser

Truth: Your oily skin is screaming for moisture.

“Moisturiser serves oily skin with essential hydration and repair,” says Thomson. The key is choosing one with the right texture and ingredients for your skin type.

“Choosing a moisturiser with balancing ingredients high in hydration such as hyaluronic acids, glycerin, niacinamide and stem cells is key to hydrate and repair oily skin while not overwhelming it with heavy oils,” she says.

Often skincare products note what skin type or concern they’re suitable for so look for phrases like “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic” on the packaging.


The takeaway

You don’t have to believe something just because your mum, auntie or grandma told you. Sure, their advice for many things is spot-on but when it comes to beauty, we’ve learnt a lot in the last 20 years. So, for the love of great skincare, stop putting toothpaste on your spots — promise?


Meet the experts

Olya Thomson started studying Biomedical science ar 16 years old. The following four years in university shaped her love for science and the human body. During that time her focus was on human anatomy and physiology, dermatology and cosmetic science and spent my final year researching various antimicrobial properties of essential oils in UK skincare market. After dedicating 10 years to working for leading skincare brands and skin clinics she finally opened the doors to her own practice where she continues to use her expertise to improve people’s appearance and the well-being of their skin. 


Ada Ooi has over 16 years of international experience in skincare and star-studded clientele and is one of London’s most sought after facialists.


Abi Oleck is a three time BABTAC finalist and multi award advanced facialist and aesthetics specialist based in London, Cotswold and across the globe.  Having worked in the industry for over 30 years she specialises in advanced skin treatments, aesthetic treatments using combination protocols and body contouring using bringing both holistic and advanced science together 


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Contributing Beauty Editor

Tori Crowther is a beauty and health journalist and qualified nail tech. The former beauty editor of Popsugar UK, Tori regularly write for titles like Allure, Glamour, Marie Claire, and Women's Health and is Contributing Beauty Editor at Live That Glow. When she's not interviewing derms or writing features, you can find her seeking out the best coffee outside of London.

Expertise: Nails, skincare
Education: Nottingham Trent University

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