Don't Fall For These Common Skin Care Myths
For most of us, caring for our skin is an enjoyable self care ritual. In the morning, skin care can help set the tone and pace of the day. At night, our routine feels restorative and helps us relax.
However, it can sometimes become a challenging and confusing task when what we believe is ideal for our skin is at odds with what our skin actually needs. We may live during the information age where learning about our skin is just a click away, but this doesn't always mean that the information we consume is correct. Sometimes it's simply that our self perceptions are askew.
Read on to bust through five common skin care myths so you can get back to the simple joys of your self care routine.
Myth #1: Pores Can Open and Close / Pores Can Shrink / Pores Should Be Invisible
When working with clients, pores come up a lot. It might be the most common topic I discuss. It's hard to pinpoint why the subject is most persistent and why pores have become enemy number one but I suspect social media, and all media, is at least partially responsible with its use of airbrushing, filters, and strategic lighting.
Pores are biologically normal. We all have them. They are good and actually serve us by bringing our sebum (natural oils and waxes) to the surface of our skin to lubricate and protect it. When our skin is healthy, our defence system is strong in protecting against the elements and infection causing bacteria.
Pore size is dictated by genetics. Some pores are very small and difficult to see and others are large. Both are normal to an individual. Pores can sometimes appear enlarged when clogged with debris such as excess oil and dead skin cells. Sometimes it's a matter of age; as our structural scaffolding begins to breakdown, or produce in lower volume, gravity takes hold and can make pores appear larger. Neither is a sign of pores "growing" larger, but perhaps experiencing stretching.
It was long believed that pores could dilate and contract through the use of hot and cold water, respectively. This is not accurate since our pores do not have the muscle capability to open and close and nor would we want them to. Our skin needs to be able to self-lubricate and sweat. Side note: the hot and cold/open and closed sensation is related to the nervous system, not pore "contraction."
To help keep your pores looking their finest, first accept that you have them and that they are normal no matter the size. Next, make sure you using deep cleansing products regularly (exfoliants and masks) to ensure that your pores are free of excess oils and debris. Use SPF to protect your skin from premature aging and reach for retinol to give your skin advanced support.
Despite persuasive advertising claims, skin care products cannot open or close your pores, nor can they shrink your pores. They will simply support your skin care goals. If you've reached a plateau in what skin care can do for your skin and you need deeper support, especially if you've struggled with acneic skin conditions in the past or are experiencing the affects of premature aging, you can always visit your preferred medical spa or cosmetic dermatologist for advanced clinical treatments, such as laser. Our skin care products are here to support your skin care journey and professional results.
Myth #2: My Pores Are Clogged
This is likely the second most discussed topic when working with clients. In this situation, what is being referred to as clogging, it is actually sebaceous filaments. Almost all of us have taken note of our sebaceous filaments at one time or another. They are most obvious on our nose and chin. If you look they almost look like a hair like structure and can sometimes make it appear like mass "clogging." Sebaceous filaments are totally normal and can make pores appear light grey, white, or slightly yellow. With sebaceous filaments, pores will be uniform in appearance. If your pore is truly clogged with a blackhead, it will appear enlarged with a dark grey or black plug of oxidized oils, skin cells, and debris.
Sebaceous filaments are a part of the biological process of getting our sebum to the surface of our skin for lubrication. Sometimes they can build up a bit, especially if you have a combination to oily skin type or haven't been practicing your deeper cleansing routine. If they are particularly persistent you can acquire a product containing salicylic acid* from your local drug store. These products tend to be treatment based and can be drying. Take a gentler approach by reaching for products containing willow bark extract or aspen bark extract, which is where salicylic acid is derived from. The DHE Mask from Consonant Skin+Care contains willow bark extract and has been a customer favourite for years, and the new-to-our-shelves Refresh Papaya + Salicylic Acid Cleanser from Three Ships Beauty is a great daily option for those with combination to oily skin types.
*Avoid salicylic acid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and if you have an allergy to aspirin. Consult your physician or pharmacist if you have questions.
Most importantly, do not try to squeeze, pull, or pore strip them away. You'll likely end up doing more harm than good and they will simply return.
Myth #3: More is More When it Comes to Exfoliation
Some people really love to exfoliate and do so to the point that it becomes a detriment to their skin. There really is such thing as too much of a good thing and this can be unpleasant for your skin. Over-exfoliation will disrupt your dermal barrier, throwing off your natural oil and water balance, which doesn't equate to optimal skin health.
Signs you've been over-exfoliating: Skin has become irritated, red, sensitive, or sore; skin has grown dehydrated; dry flakes; skin texture has become waxy in appearance; new breakouts, especially smaller bumps; rashes.
For most individuals, exfoliating using a physical or manual scrub (ones that feel gritty) should happen 1-3 x/week in the pm. Application of chemical, or peel-based exfoliants, are dependent on what is recommended by the developer. Most are done nightly, some are twice a day, and some require a one month on and one month off interval. Sometimes application is dependent on the sensitivity of the user. This is where a personalized skin consultation is useful.
Be aware of hidden sources of exfoliation. Makers know how much consumers enjoy deep cleansing and often have exfoliating ingredients in multiple products within their offerings to help target different needs and lifestyles. Take care in not unintentionally over exfoliating with your other core products, especially if you are mixing brands (Yes! It's okay to mix brands.) or using products from other stores. Exfoliating ingredients can sometimes be found in cleansers, toners, essences, spot treatments and targeting products, serums, moisturizers, exfoliants, and masks.
If you've been over-exfoliating it's time to taper back your routine. Your skin will thank you. If you are experiencing consequences of over-exfoliation, temporarily discontinue your exfoliating or deeper cleansing routine to allow your skin time to recover. If you need moisturizers to assist with calming inflammation, visit our shop for a recommendation that will be right for you. Once your skin has improved and returned to what you recognize as your baseline, it is okay to slowly reintroduce your exfoliating product into your routine. Be patient as it can take some time for your skin to reach baseline.
Myth #4: Chemicals Are Bad and Unsafe
ShopEco selects products that celebrate nature's gifts. There are a lot of plant-based ingredients found within the products on our shelves. We also recognize that all ingredients are chemicals, whether plucked from nature or safely created in a laboratory. Not all plants are safe or sustainable, and not all lab crafted ingredients are bad. Sometimes the ingredients made in a laboratory are more sustainable or stable than their natural counterpart. Some plant-based ingredients can be irritating. Same goes for lab created ingredients. It's about balance and recognizing that a lot of claims and marketing are not regulated and are open to interpretation.
At ShopEco, we strive to be ahead of the curve and listen to what top cosmetic scientists have to say about available research. There is a lot taken into consideration when selecting products for our shelves, which is why we do the research for you so you can relax and enjoy your shopping experience.
If you're curious, we will happily direct you to products that focus on being super simple and plant-based, or products that combine the best of nature and safe high-tech ingredients. Just keep in mind that regardless of your preferred product, science is involved one way or another and everything, including you, is made of chemicals.
Myth #5: You Only Need Sunscreen During Summer
If you feel like you don't need sunscreen in the winter, you're not alone. So many people drop off the usage of their sun protection without realizing how much they still actually need it. Even though the sun's UV index decreases during the winter, damaging UV rays penetrate clouds and contribute to sun damage if skin is not protected. In addition to top-down UV exposure, during the winter up to 80% of UV rays are reflected upwards by snow and ice. Further, UV rays are able to penetrate building and vehicle windows. In short, do your skin a favour and reach for sunscreen year-round.
Melissa Menard is a certified aesthetician with over a decade of experience in the beauty industry. She enjoys all things French lifestyle, flowers, and a good lipstick (despite the mask mandate).