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7 Annoying Acne Myths BUSTED

See the original post here.

I'm in a myth-busting mood!

One of the most important steps you need to take in being proactive about your skin care is being aware of some of the common skin care myths out there, and how these myths can affect your skin health.

Being duped by skin care myths can often be harmless. It may take its toll on your wallet, and sometimes may cause some unnecessary but reversible damage - best case scenario. Regardless, it's still better to avoid being lied to by these companies, or bloggers making money on lying (or stretching the truth) to you.

Being informed is liberating. Try it, and apply some healthy skepticism to the things you hear, read and see being said about beauty products.

1. "Mineral oil is bad for you".

Although mineral oil does originate from crude oil, this oil is as natural as any other earth-derived substance. Its introduction as a cosmetic oil was in the late 1800s, and still today, it is used as one of the main components of moisturizers, a testament to its efficacy.

The mineral oil used in skincare products is certified as either USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or BP (British Pharmacopeia). This type is completely safe, soothing, and perfectly healthy for skin. Cosmetics-grade mineral oil and petrolatum are considered the safest, most nonirritating moisturizing ingredients ever found.

In his book, The New Ideal in Skin Health, Dr. Carl Thornfeldt devotes three pages just to the topic of mineral oil, putting to rest the question of its safety.

While it’s true that some petroleum derivatives contain carcinogenic materials (like some polycyclic aromatic compounds) the mineral oil that is used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry is highly refined and purified. There is absolutely no evidence that cosmetic-grade mineral oil causes cance, and there has been plenty of testing done to prove it.

Mineral oil is actually a great ingredient for dry skin. It has actually been shown to improve skin softness and barrier function better than some other emollients, and can even suppress transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

There are several studies showing that mineral oil can help heal and moisturize skin quite effectively. Not to mention, mineral oil is not known to clog pores because it remains on the surface of skin.

2. "Once you find a product that works, this will be the product you always use".

Wouldn't this be nice, huh? Unfortunately, this couldn't be more misled. Sometimes we are led to believe that when we find a product that works for our skin that it will always work for us. However, this completely ignores the fact that our skin changes - and fairly frequently. This isn't to say that your skin's needs change every week, but they can certainly change at least 2x a year, with the change of the seasons, if not more due to things like environment changes (moving to a new location, different water), diet, and stress.

For example, I used one moisturizer for about a year before my skin's needs changed and I had to start looking for a new product. It's important to note that it isn't the product that "stopped working" and your skin didn't build up some kind of resistance or tolerance to the product; instead, it's just the natural changes in your skin that make it need something new.

For instance, at one point your skin may really need moisture, and so a heavier cream may do the trick for your acne. At other points when your stress is really high, you may need something with lots of antioxidants to combat the oxidative stress. And other times you may have a genuine problem with an overproduction of keratin, at which time you may need a moisturizer with salicylic acid in it. You can see how different skin needs will require different products that do different things. If your skin is parched and over-dry, using salicylic acid won't help, it will only make things worse. Thus, you need to be both willing and prepared to make skin care changes as your skin demands. This is also why it's important to keep a skin care diary when you're adding new products in, so you should be able to quickly determine which products do and do not work for you.

3. "Your skin adapts to products you use and eventually stops working/becomes immune."

Because our skin changes with the changing seasons/diet/stress, etc people are sometimes led to believe that our skin care products "stop working" because our skin has built up a resistance or immunity to their ingredients.

I hear this really frequently. But the fact is that skin doesn't adapt to skincare products any more than your body adapts to a healthy diet.

If spinach and kale are healthy for you they are always healthy, and they continue to be healthy, even if you eat them every day.

The same is true for your skin, as long as you are applying what is healthy for skin, it remains healthy. Skin care products like antioxidants do not build up resistance on the skin like things like antibiotics do because they don't work in the same manner. For example, antibiotics work by killing bacteria, and so bacteria have to evolve to survive, whereas other skin care products simply make the skin less hospitable to bacteria, or deny them something they need to survive (like a food source).

You may see your skin stop improving as much as it initially did when you first started using the product, but that is to be expected, especially if you were using products that were damaging or not suited to your skin, and then you switch to well-formulated products. Of course your initial improvement is going to be much more impressive than what you'll see months later.

4. "If you stop washing your face, your skin will balance itself out and your acne will go away".

I touched on this a lot in my eBook and while this isn't the worst thing you can do for your skin, it certainly won't help.

Some people experience acne relief when they stop putting products on their skin. This is likely due to the fact that these people were using an overly-drying or harsh product, and the return to normal sebum production and skin acidity may help to kill any bacteria. Unfortunately this is usually temporary, and the excitement is short-lived. Not to mention this won't work for those of us who are using gentle, non-drying products already.

In several cases the women who try this routine actually end up damaging their skin in the process. Just think, your skin is exposed to all kinds of things during the day: bacteria from phones, your hand; environmental pollutants that can cause a cascade of free radicals on your skin; sweat; dirt; dead skin. If you're not washing your face, all of this stuff is just accumulating on your skin to cause damage.

Women who go this route generally note having a dull, ashen complexion. Their skin seems to sag off of their face, and become dry and lifeless. Really, this is no surprise. While we don't NEED to wash our faces, we developed the method of washing ourselves not just for fun, but for our skin's health. Washing our face is about the same luxury as brushing our teeth. Do we really need to brush our teeth? No, but if we don't we are putting our teeth's health at risk by leaving them exposed to all of the bacteria and food we accumulate in our mouths on a daily basis. The same goes for our skin. Do we really need to wash our face? No, but if we can wash our face and keep the damaging microorganisms from taking over, while simultaneously keeping our skin younger and more youthful, why wouldn't we?

Overall, we need to be using products that nourish our skin and treat the underlying problem. The answer is not to be found in not washing your face.

5. "Acne is caused by too much bacteria".

Well, this is a half-truth. Acne can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria (which is why antibiotics work for some people even after just a short course of use), but for the majority of us, it isn't actually the problem itself but is instead a byproduct of another underlying problem, namely sebum production and composition. In fact, acne-causing bacteria can be completely absent in acneic skin! This is why products like benzoyl peroxide may not do anything for your skin.

If antibiotics didn't work after a short, temporary course - it's likely that bacteria isn't at the root of your acne problems and you need to start looking at other causes.

6. "Hypoallergenic products are better for sensitive skin".

"Hypoallergenic" is only meant to imply that a product is unlikely or less likely to cause allergic reactions than non hypoallergenic products, and therefore is better for sensitive or problem skin.

But the problem with this is there are neither industry standards nor legal requirements which must be fulfilled in order to make this claim; there are no ingredient restrictions, regulations, guidelines, rules, or procedures of any kind, anywhere in the world, for determining whether or not a product qualifies as being hypoallergenic.

Modern cosmetic and skin care products are safe for most users and adverse reactions to them are very rare considering the number of people in contact with numerous products over a lifetime of use.

If sensitive or allergy-prone skin is one of your concerns, then the thing to look for is products that are free of irritants. The major irritants that show up, even in products labeled organic or natural, are fragrance (both synthetic and natural fragrance are equally bad for all skin types), alcohol (isopropyl, SD, or denatured alcohol), and harsh cleansing agents like sodium lauryl sulfate (not sodium laureth sulfate, which is a mild cleansing agent).

You should view the term hypoallergenic merely as a marketing term, and nothing more. Anyone can use that term to represent their brand's identity, as there are no regulations.

7. "Natural ingredients are better for skin than synthetic".

I touch on this a lot. People automatically assume that everything natural is good, and anything synthetic is bad. This couldn't be more misguided. There is no factual basis or scientific legitimacy for that belief.

The definition of "natural" is loosely regulated, and just because something grows from the earth doesn't mean it's good for you or good for your skin. For example, the two most toxic chemicals for humans that we know of are botulinum toxin and tetanospasmin. Botulism is caused by botulinum toxin, which is a protein and neurotoxin produced by bacteria spores. Tetanospasmin is a neurotoxin produced by bacteria that causes Tetanus. These are natural! NATURAL! The most toxic chemicals known to humans! The botulinum toxin is over a million times more toxic than all of the synthetic chemicals, except dioxin! While you aren't going to find any botulinum toxin in your acne cream, the point is that natural does not always equal better.

We shouldn't assume that "natural" products are somehow safer or superior to their chemically-identical synthethic counterparts. In fact, "natural" products can even be harder than synthetic products to preserve against microorganisms; they may be more expensive (in fact, they often are); they may have more of an environmental impact; and overall, they may not work any better!

Ideally, the skincare products you choose should have a proper formulation of natural and synthetic ingredients that have been tested for use in skin. Don't be afraid of a product just because it has hard-to-pronounce ingredients; as I discussed in this blog post, long chemical names sound scary - but often aren't.

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