The definition of a myth is that it is “a widely held but false belief or idea.” Even though we know this, it’s so easy to fall for something that so many people spruik and swear by.
Unfounded and unsolicited beauty & skincare suggestions are everywhere, and they are often difficult to determine as either fact or fiction. They might be tried and tested remedies passed down through families and friends, or new, must-have hacks endorsed by influencers on the internet…
But putting the origins of the advice aside, some beauty myths & mantras aren’t helpful or healthy to live by. From pimple popping and pore shrinking, to bad body hair management and makeup removal techniques, doing your own research is key. And that’s where we come in.
Keep reading for our compilation of 16 of the most common skin, hair & beauty myths and whether they are actually true or false…
Beauty Myths about Skin
Drinking more water cures dry skin – FALSE!
Keeping hydrated is important to your overall health, but it won’t necessarily affect or improve the hydration of your skin. Hydration is important to flush the body and ensure that via healthy blood flow nutrients can reach the skin. By having water nearby it also means that instead of reaching for a caffeinated or sugary beverage, which can contribute to exacerbating skin concerns, you will be reaching for a healthier option that is essential for our bodies to run optimally. Topical applications are our strong option to target and treat the issues, so look for ingredients such as sodium hyaluronate, niacinamide, panthenol, ceramide & glycerin.
Never pop a pimple – TRUE!
This is something that almost everyone preaches with good reason – it’s completely true! Popping or squeezing a pimple sounds like a quick and easy way to get rid of excess sebum, but it just causes redness and will most likely push the bacteria deeper down. Done regularly, it can leave you with scabs and even permanent acne scars.
Junk food can trigger acne – TRUE!
Yes, diet can contribute to, and exacerbate breakouts. Foods that are processed or contain refined sugars break down quickly in the body, causing spikes in hormone regulation like seen with insulin. This can trigger fluctuations triggering inflammation, increased bacteria and sebum production. Sugars found in junk foods such as lollies, chips & chocolate are common culprits, as well as certain dairy products milk, cheese, cream & yoghurt. Sugar and dairy both induce ‘Insulin like Growth Factor-1’ (IGF-1) synthesis which has been suggested to be a pivotal driver in acne (Juhl, Bergholdt, Miller, Jemec, Kanters & Ellervik, 2018).
You can shrink pores – FALSE!
Disappointing, we know, but no, pores don’t actually get bigger or smaller – they can just look that way. The truth is they move with our skin, which can temporarily loosen or tighten due to temperature, oil flow, hormone levels and age. And when congested with oil, dead skin or dirt, they will become more noticeable. The best way to minimise their appearance is to use products that contain, niacinamide, glycolic acid or salicylic acid.
Skincare home remedies are harmless – FALSE!
Some are, but many aren’t. Although baking soda is mentioned a lot, it’s actually disruptive to your skin’s pH balance and leaves you prone to breakouts due to an imbalanced skin microbiota. Lemon juice is another DIY favourite, but its acidic nature makes it very drying to skin which can cause inflammatory and irritating effects. Coconut oil’s consistency has been shown to have comedogenic properties as it acts as a barrier, this is excellent for some skin conditions however for those that are prone to congestion and breakouts, use sparingly.
Oily skin types shouldn’t use a moisturiser – FALSE!
All skin types need moisturising. If yours is on the shiny side, often this is a symptom of not having enough lipid content within your dermal structures. Using moisturisers with lipids and ceramides will nourish you just enough to regulate your skin’s natural production of oil rather than overstimulate it. Using oil-free moisturisers will not assist your skin’s natural oil regulation and can contribute to a drier complexion. B vitamins are excellent for oily skin conditions also, helping to regulate oil flow and prevent lipid peroxidation (Higashi-Okai, Nagino, Yamada & Okai, 2006).
You should only exfoliate once or twice a week – TRUE!
Exfoliating should be a part of your skincare routine, as it will unclog dead skin cells and buff away surface impurities & pollution. Over-exfoliation, however, will strip your skin of its natural oils and lead to irritation & dryness. While everyone’s exfoliation routine will be unique to your skin condition, doing it just once a week – or twice maximum – will give you excellent results.
Beauty Myths about Hair
Shaving makes hair grow back thicker – FALSE!
We bet this is one your mum, aunt or sister told you, right? Well, it’s actually wrong. Hair that is growing back in after shaving only looks thicker or “stubbly” because it is shorter and has a blunt tip.
Laser hair removal is permanent – FALSE!
The term that best describes this practice is semi-permanent, as it will get rid of approx. 80% of hair. Regular sessions at anagen stage of the hair’s growth cycle will ensure the best results. During this phase, the cells in the root are dividing for hair growth and are the most receptive to laser light since they are rich in keratin (protein) and melanin. Targeting the hair during this phase allows for selective photothermolysis (thermal destruction) ensuring a reduction in hair. Laser services will provide hair free periods, and with repeated treatments the hair regrowth will become more sparse and finer (Azin, Aniseh, Rajabi-Estarabadi Ali, Somayeh, Keyvan, & Alireza, 2020). The treatment will not be as successful if you pluck, wax or remove the hair from the follicle and bulb, shaving is recommended during these treatments. Avoid all sun exposure and fake tan applications during treatment course also.
Tight buns, weaves & ponytails can cause hair loss – TRUE!
Yes, any hairstyle that pulls at the scalp can lead to hair loss – but only if done regularly causing chronic force being applied to the hair. This is called tractional alopecia, usually hair loss is noticed primarily around the hairline (Sharma, Gupta, Kumar, Singhal, Jain & Sharma, 2019). The odd ballerina bun or pony won’t do too much harm, as long as you break it up with frequent looser styles or wear your hair down with no ties at all.
Hair straightening causes baldness – FALSE!
Again, moderation is a factor in maintaining good hair health, especially when using tools that have a high concentration of heat. Unless you are using a flat iron everyday – especially at the roots – you won’t go bald. Bear in mind however, that you can still damage your lengths and turn your hair into a dry, frizzy mess! Chemical straightening treatments can have some inflammatory effects results, exacerbating eczema, irritation and flaking as well as damage to the hair shaft which could causing thinning, these studies do not have consistent results and its long-term effects remain unknown (Hatsbach de Paula, Basílio, & Mulinari-Brenner, 2022).
Head hair grows faster after a cut – FALSE!
This is another one that is spoken about a lot, but there is actually no truth to this beauty myth. The growth rate of someone’s hair comes down to health, age, genetics, any medications they’re on and their hair care practices. Getting a regular trim won’t encourage your hair to grow quicker, but it will eliminate pesky split ends and make your mane look fuller & shinier for healthy growth!
Beauty Myths about Makeup
Makeup brushes should be washed regularly – TRUE!
Did you know that dirty makeup brushes can lead to staph infections and conjunctivitis aka ‘pink eye’? About 72% of make-up users do not clean their brushes regularly and this is an easy hack to prevent bacteria and infection from taking hold. A study in California at Loyaola Marymount University, found that over a one month period, bacteria, dirt, dust and old make-up can be transferred to skin with each stroke of your unwashed brush (Techtimes, 2020). Keeping your brushes & tools clean (like foundation sponges & blenders, eyelash curlers, powder puffs, tweezers etc) is just as important as keeping your face clean.
Not removing makeup properly causes breakouts – TRUE!
This one is pretty self-explanatory – if you don’t clean your face and remove your makeup before bed, the products left on your skin (plus junk built up during the day) will clog hair follicles and lead to acne & inflammation. These clogging elements create an environment that is ideal for bacteria to propagate and cause inflammation. Using a clean face cloth (rotated daily during breakouts and every 2nd day when skin is clear) is best to ensure a properly cleaned canvas for skincare absorption and prevention of congestion.
Pumping your mascara makes it go further – FALSE!
Actually, the opposite will occur, as it lets air into the tube which will make the product dry out. Scrape the wand along the sides of the tube to scoop up more product, and use a drop or two of a saline solution if it starts to go flaky.
Not everyone can pull off red lipstick – FALSE!
Um, rude! Anyone can rock a red lip, it’s just a matter of picking a shade that compliments your skin tone (or not, there are no hard & fast rules) makeup is meant to be fun! If you do wish to know common tint to tone recommendations, they are as follows: fair skinned people look good in a cool & bright red lip, medium / olive skin tones look good with warm, orange–based red lippy, and people with darker skin tones are flattered by deep red lipsticks with blue undertones.
Want to know what the 10 most toxic beauty tips & skincare trends are too? Read our blog!
Azin, A., Aniseh, S., Rajabi-Estarabadi Ali, Somayeh, Y., Keyvan, N., & Alireza, F. (2020). Comparison of efficacy and safety of a novel 755-nm diode laser with conventional 755-nm alexandrite laser in reduction of axillary hairs. Lasers in Medical Science, 35(2), 373-378. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-019-02829-x
Hatsbach de Paula, J. N., Basílio, F. M. A., & Mulinari-Brenner, F. A. (2022). Effects of chemical straighteners on the hair shaft and scalp. Anais brasileiros de dermatologia, 97(2), 193–203. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abd.2021.02.010
Higashi-Okai, K., Nagino, H., Yamada, K., & Okai, Y. (2006). Antioxidant and prooxidant activities of B group vitamins in lipid peroxidation. Journal of UOEH, 28(4), 359–368. https://doi.org/10.7888/juoeh.28.359
Juhl, C. R., Bergholdt, H. K. M., Miller, I. M., Jemec, G. B. E., Kanters, J. K., & Ellervik, C. (2018). Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Nutrients, 10(8), 1049. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10081049
Sharma, M., Gupta, S., Kumar, R., Singhal, A., Jain, S., & Sharma, M. (2019). A clinico-epidemiological study of scalp hair loss in children (0–18 years) in kota region, south-east rajasthan. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 64(4), 285-291. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/ijd.IJD_393_17
‘‘Pink Eye’ Maybe hidden in Dirty Make-up Brushes; Here’s How to Remove Them’, 2020. Tech Times, July 15. https://www.techtimes.com/articles/251114/20200715/pink-eye-maybe-hidden-in-dirty-make-up-brushes-heres-how-to-remove-them.htm