Top 10 Skin Myths
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Top 10 Skin Myths

Top dermatologists Rodan & Fields separate fact from fiction.

Genes, SPF, and Creams

Here's a little-known secret: You're not just born with great skin. Having a flawless complexion has more to do with how you treat your skin than having good genes. So why don't more of us have glowing complexions? It's simple: We believe skincare myths that prevent us from really getting the gorgeous skin we want. Well, not anymore. With the help of dermatologists Katie Rodan, MD, and Kathy Fields, MD, creators of Proactiv Solution and the Rodan + Fields skincare lines, we've busted the top 10 things women incorrectly believe about their skin. Read on for the real scoop on your skin:

Myth #1: Your skin will age just like your mom's.

The reality: Sure, genetics play a role in how your skin looks, from the size of your pores to its texture and color. But banking on aging like your mom or grandmother is a big mistake. "Habits make more of a difference than genetics," explains Dr. Rodan. "The biggest culprit in aging is sun exposure, and your drinking, smoking, stress, and sleep habits play a role, too." Skipping sunscreen, imbibing too often, coping ineffectively with stress, and sleeping on your side or stomach can all exacerbate and create wrinkles, adult acne, and texture changes.

Myth #2: The SPF number tells you how much protection you're getting from the sun.

The reality: There are two types of damaging sun rays: UVA, which are responsible for aging the skin; and UVB, which are responsible for burning it. The SPF number on a bottle of sunscreen only gives a guide for how much UVB protection the product offers. It doesn't tell you whether or not the product protects from UVA rays (which are also responsible for melanoma). All sunscreens protect from UVB rays, explain Drs. Rodan and Fields. To fully protect yourself, however, look for a product that contains UVA-blocking ingredients, too, such as zinc or avobenzone (Parsol 1789), and reapply often.

Myth #3: You need a separate sunscreen and moisturizer.

The reality: "Sunscreens already add moisture to your skin because of their ingredients," says Dr. Fields. So if you have oily skin, you may want to skip the separate moisturizer. For those who prefer to wear both products, apply the moisturizer first; allow to dry, then apply the sunscreen. Either way, be sure to wear sunscreen daily: "Every day is sun day," says Dr. Fields, even if it's cloudy or overcast.

Myth #4: Most of the sun damage you incur happens before age 18.

The reality: "Recent studies have shown that by age 18, you've only accumulated 18 to 23 percent of the sun damage you'll incur over a lifetime," says Dr. Rodan. That means that there's still time to protect your skin from the sun and put off sun-induced aging. Do this by using sunscreen and products with sun-damage reversing ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol.

Myth #5: Cosmetic creams can turn back time for your skin.

The reality: There's no such thing as a miracle in a bottle. "As you age, your facial bones shrink, you lose fat under the skin, and your skin begins to become loose," says Dr. Fields. "Rubbing on a cream isn't going to address these things." What's more, cosmetic skincare products cannot, by FDA law, include medications, which are the only things that truly change the structure of the skin. What cosmetic creams can do: Temporarily plump up and hydrate your skin. For the best chance at turning back time, see your dermatologist for medications or procedures.


Ingredients, Age, and Pimples

Myth #6: If your skin is sensitive to a specific ingredient, cut that ingredient out of your regimen.

The reality: Just because you react to a good ingredient in one formulation doesn't mean you'll have the same response to another formulation. Effective cosmetic skincare ingredients like AHAs, salicylic acid, and retinol can be irritating. If you try a product containing one of these ingredients, start slowly to allow your skin time to adjust. If, after two weeks, you still notice irritation, try another product containing the ingredient. You may find that a different mix will agree with your skin.

Myth #7: All women over 35 need foundation.

The reality: "Foundation ages women!" says Dr. Rodan. It settles into fine lines and large pores, and can give a mask-like finish unless the shade is perfectly matched to your skin. The doctors' advice (which they themselves follow): Skip foundation, and concentrate on getting your skin in fabulous shape so you won't need it.

Myth #8: The bumps you get on your adult skin aren't acne.

The reality: They might not be the same pimples you had when you were a teenager, but they're still acne. Thank the natural decrease in estrogens/increase in androgens we experience as we age, plus our increasingly stressful lifestyles, for this common condition. To stave off adult acne, you need a consistent, full-face regimen containing gentle but effective acne fighters like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur.

Myth #9: Spot-treatments are your best bets for pimples.

The reality: A pimple can take weeks to form under the skin, so while you're treating the one that's currently visible with a spot treatment, you're neglecting the ones that will pop up in the future. Drs. Rodan and Fields swear by a preventative, full-face regimen to stop pimples before they even begin to form.

Myth #10: Stick only with products that worked for you in the past.

The reality: Our bodies change as we age -- so why shouldn't our skin? Sticking to the same old products as your skin changes doesn't make sense. The products cease to be effective if your skin needs shift and you could also be missing out on new technologies and ingredients that will better suit your current needs. Don't be afraid to experiment!