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11 beauty myths I used to believe

 

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Let’s clarify the many bogus claims in the industry today. I’ve spent half of my life confused with what actually works and what doesn’t. I’ve experimented with the following beauty tips over the years, but I think it’s time to sort between fact and fiction. Apart from those that come from my mom, these days I’m taking every unsolicited advice with a grain of salt. I think you should too.

Wanna point out again that I don’t have flawless skin, which is all the more reason you should be questioning me. I’m also one of those women who don’t see a personal dermatologist, and I’m embarrassed to say it’s all because I’m too lazy -_- I know how little credibility I have over this, but I stick to the philosophy that no matter how many resources or how wide an access you have to all the beauty products in the world, if you’re not healthy, you won’t get healthy skin. I try to prioritize sleep (failed too many times), bank on eating healthy, and sweat a ton, and I lean a lot on scientific evidence in terms of skincare. So even though I prefer napping over tagging along my mom for her weekly facials, I know I still got my back.

Coming from someone with an oily/combination skin, I’m sure this will be especially helpful for those of you who have the same skin type. But if you’re of other skin types, stay tuned. There are things I’ve also included here that work for everyone, especially when it comes to aging. Read on to see which old wives’ tales really work:

 

Myth #1: Cleanse/scrub often to keep your skin clean and acne-free.

True, if you’re using a gentle scrub for max 3 a week. I used Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Pore-Refining Scrub 3-4 times a week and everything was great. I used Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment for more than twice a week and my skin dried out. Bottom line: Keep it down to 2-3 times a week max. Even though it’s tempting to “clean up” them nasty whiteheads and blackheads, over-washing is the fastest route to leaving permanent scars, as it only aggravates the condition of your skin. When your skin’s stripped off its natural moisture barrier (sebum), it responds by producing even more oil, so you’ll see more pimples in the next few weeks if you overdo it now.

 

Myth #2: You’ll stop having pimples once you enter your early 20s.

Total BS. People in their 30s, 40s, and 50s still see blemishes popping up from time to time. Think about it: If this is true, none of us would care enough to over-complicate our skincare regimen. Every skin type experiences acne once in a while, because we all have hormones and they can drive our sebaceous glands crazy at times. Men generally have more advantage over us, because their hormones level off once they’ve gone past their puberty. We women have PMS, menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum period, and menopause. Yes, woman, I feel you. Some things that can help throughout womanhood: Meditation, journaling, do what you love, keep moving, and pray a lot :)

 

Myth #3: Don’t use a moisturizer if you’re blemish-prone and/or have oily skin.

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3 words: YOU NEED IT. It’s not just for the normal, the sensitive, and the dry – the whole purpose of moisturizing is to hydrate the skin, and everyone needs hydration. There are basically 3 ways the ingredients in moisturizers work1, and they normally contain a combination of all 3:

  • Occlusives: This class of ingredients work by creating a topical layer that keeps moisture from escaping. It’s like how your sebum naturally acts as a barrier to seal in the moisture, slowing down the rate of water evaporation. Some common occlusives include beeswax, shea butter, paraffin, dimethicone, and zinc oxide. *Some occlusives can be comedogenic.
  • Humectants: Humectants are perfect for those living in constant humidity (think Jakarta and Singapore) – they bring moisture from the deepest layers of the skin to the surface and attract water molecules from the air. Common examples are glycerin, panthenol, butylene glycol, and AHAs (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids like lactic acid and glycolic acid). *Some humectants may cause irritation.
  • Emollients: This is my favorite kind of moisturizing ingredient – they’re fats that repairs the skin by filling the spaces between cracks and creases with oil. Some examples include jojoba oil (and other plant oils), squalene, ceramides, stearic acid, and fatty acids.

As an oily-skinned girl, you have an endless supply of excess sebum that can trap dead skin cells and bacteria to clog up pores, resulting in breakouts. It’s tempting to use harsh products to get rid of all the shine and comedones and blackheads – but you need to keep your skin hydrated, and harsh products tend to over-dry the skin (see Myth #1). Cleanse twice a day max, moisturize, and use blotting sheets whenever necessary. One of my favorite moisturizers is Steamcream, mostly because of its versatility (you can use it for your face, decolletage, even body and legs), but also because of its concentration of non-comedogenic, non-irritating, super hydrating emollients:

Oatmeal Infusion (Avena sativa), Orange Flower Water (Citrus Aurantium amara, Aqua), Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis), Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao), Glycerine, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Organic Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis), Lavender Oil (Lavandula augustifolia), Chamomile Blue Oil (Chamomilla recutita), Orange Blossom Absolute (Citrus Aurantium dulcis), Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena), Neroli Oil (Citrus Aurantium amara), Cetyl Stearyl Alcohol, *Coumarin, *Geraniol, *Citronellol, * Limonene, *Linalool, Perfume, Methylparaben, Propylparaben. *Occurs naturally in essential oils

 

 
 

Myth #4: Pump your mascara wand for better application.

Any woman who claims she’s never made this mistake is lying :p You might think you’re picking more of the product by pumping it in and out vigorously, but what actually happens is you’re letting more air into the mascara tube, making your mascara dry out sooner than they should (and loading it with bacteria). It’s why you get dry lashes that flake off and not the lengthy, voluminous one you’re after. Moreover, should those germs inside receive more air, they’ll thrive and multiply. Instead of pumping your wand in and out, dip once gently and swirl the mascara wand inside the tube before applyng. It helps you pick up more of the product without the clumps.

 

Myth #5: Blush on apple of your cheeks.

This is an old adage we all buy. Truth is, unless you want to look like a clown, red rounds far below your cheekbones make them look droopy. Mimic the way you naturally blush instead, and for most face shapes, this tends to be the diagonals along the cheekbones. Sweep from the center your eye upward along the cheekbone, all the way toward your temple. You just need to smile sweetly to find these areas, no need to pucker up or suck in your cheeks.

 

Myth #6: Pluck/shape/groom your eyebrows often to beautify.
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Left: (2008) Right: (2014)

Let it grow, let it grooww. Fuller eyebrows make you look youthful, and Cara Delevigne is living proof. I used to shape my brows with only a scraper and shave chunks of them off at once. Do: Invest in a good slant tweezer to tame them instead. Not daily, not weekly, just once in a while.

“But when my grandmother saw me plucking [my eyebrows] she said: ‘Don’t. You will regret it. One day you will wake up with no eyebrows and think how stupid you were. Your eyebrows are the most beautiful thing about you.’ ” (Natalia Vodianova)

 

Myth #7: You don’t need sunscreen when it’s cloudy outside.

Fact: There are UV rays in your regular fluorescent lights and flash cameras. That’s how ever-present UV radiation is. So even if it’s gloomy and you’re out in the open, you’ll still be exposing yourself to UV. There are 2 types of rays that sucks the juices out of your skin, with each type damaging you in their own ways:

  • Up to 95% of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface is UVA, and it’s also the type that penetrates most deeply into the skin. The skin becomes tanned as a response to the injury of your skin’s DNA caused by UVA – it changes pigmentation to prevent further DNA damage, lest further mutations occur and lead you to skin cancer.
  • UVB is the primary cause of redness and sunburn. They’re UVA’s sidekick when it comes to premature aging and developing cancerous tumors. UVB rays may not penetrate as deeply, but they’re much intense. That painful sunburn and burning feel on the superficial layers of the skin? It’s UVB to blame.

My mom has been nagging me about sunscreen since I was a fetus. But I hated the stickiness of it. Until I’ve gone full protection under a cloudless sky and still got 2 tones darker, I’ve finally seen for myself how persistent those UVA rays are. Now I religiously use VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Sport 70 whenever I’m outside, and for face, the original bareMinerals broad spectrum SPF 15 foundation has been my holy grail for more than half a decade now. I’ve tried BB and CC creams with sunscreens before, but I found that I breakout more often with liquid foundations.

 

Myth #8: Nuts and chocolate cause pimples.

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You might be surprised to find out that Alessandra Ambrosio eats chocolate everyday, while Chrissy Teigen always keeps a stash of cashews and almonds. It’s natural to think that all fat-loaded foods can cause greasy skin and therefore acne, but not all fats are created equal. Trans fat, otherwise known as the one causing belly fat, is the type that makes food super greasy. It triggers hyperactivity of sebaceous glands and causes your hormones to go out of whack. On the other hand, the fats in nuts (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated) actually reduce the occurrence of these imbalances2 .

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Dark chocolate lava at Angelita Tea Salon & Patisserie

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As for chocolates, it’s always best to opt for dark (70% cacao or higher) over milk or white chocolates. Cacao is practically the fountain of youth: A 2009 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology have shown that dark chocolate offers significant protection from UV rays. In another study, dark chocolate eaters who indulged for 3 months saw improved hydration, thickness, and overall circulation around the skin. This has everything to do with the cacao and its high antioxidant content, and the darker your chocolate is, the more concentrated those good-for-you antioxidants are present.

Despite all the benefits of dark chocolate, this isn’t a license to overindulge – apart from cacao, the rest of the block is usually loaded with simple, easy-to-digest sugars. In a 50-year study, researchers have found that sugary treats and other processed foods contribute to acne outbreaks. They cause blood sugar spikes and fluctuate your glucose levels rapidly, stirring the functions of your sebaceous glands. Just as your hormones go crazy when your body reacts to trans fats, sugars and other refined carbs also set your hormone androgen in motion. Androgen is that hormone that stimulates your skin to produce more oil, grow out excess facial hair, and thinning out your hair when in excess. So keep your daily dose of dark chocolate down to an ounce, and you’ll reap cacao’s benefits more than the sugars harm you.

At the end of the day it’s really simple: What’s good for your body is good for your skin.

 

Myth #9: With the right product(s), you can shrink the size of your pores.

Okay here’s the sad truth: There is virtually nothing you can do to reduce the size of the pores you’re born with. It’s in your DNA. While you can minimize the appearance of it, you’re never going to change its physical structure. As if that isn’t depressing enough, it doesn’t get any better: As we age, we lose our skin’s elasticity, and this stretches out the pores even more, making them looking more noticeable. But don’t lose hope just yet – there are a few things you can do to keep it taut and avoid enlarging le pores.

  • Use gentle cleansers twice a day to remove excess dirt, oil, and bacteria (they’re the main culprits), but don’t overdo it (see Myth #1).
  • Invest in a daily vitamin C supplement for your body to keep producing those collagen.
  • Once cleansed, rub ice cubes throughout the face in a circular motion for 2-3 minutes. Just the act of massaging promotes better blood circulation around your face, and the cold temp makes pores appear smaller.
  • Use products containing BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acids). Look for salicylic acid on the label, as it’s the most ubiquitous and effective type of BHA. Salicylic acid addresses the insides of your pore linings, where buildups tend to occur and clog things up. It dissolves oil and remove the accumulated dead skin cells underneath.
  • Tone with ACV. It’s got acetic acid in it – and it’s amazing.
  • Get a clay mask regularly. I’ve been using Kiehl’s Rare Earth Masque for 2 years now, applying it 2-3 times a week works for me. Although it’s generally recommended to leave it on for 15-20 minutes tops, I sometimes leave it on overnight. This tends to be the times I only did it once a week.
  • R-E-T-I-N-O-L. It’s common in anti-wrinkle/anti-aging products, but retinol is one potent ingredient that really penetrates the skin’s layers. A vitamin A-derivative, retinol refines, smoothens, de-clogs pores from the inside, evens out discolorations, and improves overall complexion altogether.

 

 
 

Myth #10: Expensive products are more effective than drugstore and other cheaper products.

Numbers – they lie more often than not. Price tags aren’t a good reflection of a product’s worth, just like status are not a reliable marker of a person’s values. The price tag of a product is determined not just by the quality of its ingredients, but also on marketing, manufacturing, packaging, celebrity ambassador(s), added fragrances, and so much more. Think about it: Cavewomen existed way before any big corporations did. Do you trust what has always worked before, or something else that’s new and hyped and voguish, but super exclusive? Truth is, some high-end products really do work, especially when you’ve done your research on the product, understand your skin, and know that it has potential to treat its most stubborn issues (with as little side effects as possible). Instead of betting a fortune on something that you see celebs are using, I highly suggest finding products that works for you. Who cares if it’s a kitchen staple? Only invest in the pricey stuff to treat and target your most stubborn issues.

 

Myth #11:Don’t start using anti-aging products until you’re 30.

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Truth: Your biological age has nothing to do with your physiological and psychological age. I mean, have you seen this 60-year-old woman? She’s, like, 40ish, 30 at best. Another truth: You’re always aging. Like right now, as you’re reading this, or like the when you popped out of your mother’s womb. You’re always undergoing oxidative stress because of homeostasis, and you’re full of emotions and you express happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and the whole gamut in different lines and etches on your face (it’s why Botox-ed women tend to look expressionless). So it doesn’t make any sense to only buy products that are categorized in arbitrary age divisions – if you have dry patches and you’re 21, use the moisturizing ingredients present in most anti-wrinkle products. If you have blemishes and you’re 55, use anti-acne products you see a lot of teenagers use. The only factor that manufacturers consider when they pigeonhole products into this anti-aging category is this: Our skin gets drier as we age. It’s all genetics and lifestyle factors – your age is just a number.

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Free consultation with SK-II skin expert Kazumi Toyama (2013)

Since I’m oily/combo and my hormones are crazy, my cheeks can get really dry at times, and SK-II’s LXP Ultimate Perfecting Cream helps me a great deal with the problem. I’m considering switching my regular FTE to the Ultimate Perfecting Essence for the extra pitera, but I digress. Point is, there’s no one posing strict rules on when you should start using products targeted for mature skin. At best, you start way before the damage has been done. You don’t want to see the first signs of aging tomorrow morning, do you?

 
 


BONUS fact: Fellow oily-skinned girls, this one’s for you: We age at a slower rate than other skin types34.

This is because the vitamin E in our sebum is our first line of defense against the harmful stressors of the environment. Not only is it an antioxidant that fights free radicals (and therefore eliminates the toxins in our skin from the natural metabolic process), vitamin E also has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This is a huge advantage over others when it comes to reducing your chances of developing rashes, irritations, scars, age spots, and deep wrinkles. Just remember that we’re genetically predisposed with larger pores than other skin types, so if you avoid sun damage as much as possible and minimize free radical damage in your lifestyle, you’ll get away with the deep lines you see in most mature oily skin. Nonetheless, take pride in the fact that we never peel or scale or appear dull – so long as you take control of your shine, you’ll always appear dewy :)


 
 
 

What about you? Is there a beauty myth you’ve heard all too many times before, but aren’t sure if it’s true?

 
 
 
 
 


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 Footnote(s):

  1. MakingCosmetics Inc – Moisturizing Agents []
  2. Yale Scientific Magazine: Does Greasy Food Cause Acne? []
  3. WebMD – A Wrinkle In Time: Preventing Damage to Aging Skin []
  4. YouBeauty – Aging Oily Skin []
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