It seems like bad advice is everywhere – and sometimes, it’s cleverly disguised as good advice. There’s as much misinformation about skin care as there are wrinkle creams on the shelf of your nearest drugstore, but don’t believe everything you hear.
While the Internet makes it easy to find “expert” information about pretty much any topic, this well-meaning advice can do more harm than good. Today, board-certified San Francisco cosmetic surgeon Dr. Michael Kulick weighs in on the reality behind common skin care myths, and the best ways to take your skin from drab to fab.
Fiction: My mother got wrinkles prematurely, and there’s nothing I can do to prevent the same thing from happening to me.
Fact: Genetics do play a large role in how quickly you will begin to develop the signs of aging. However, that doesn’t mean your aging process is completely out of your hands. Your lifestyle and habits play an even larger role in the aging process than you may have assumed. For example, if your mother was a smoker, or spent a lot of time tanning, she would have developed wrinkles, fine lines and sun damage sooner than a nonsmoker who carefully avoided overexposure to the sun.
Fiction: The higher the SPF of my sunblock, the longer I can stay out in the sun.
Fact: SPF is not an indication of how long a product protects your skin from damaging UV rays, but how well it does so. A small amount of daily sunshine is beneficial because it stimulates your body to produce Vitamin D, but it’s very easy to get too much of a good thing. Before going outside – yes, even if it’s overcast – apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure the label reads “noncomedogenic,” which means it won’t clog your pores, and be sure to reapply at least every two hours. A good rule of thumb is to apply at least a teaspoon on your face, and one ounce (enough to fill up a shot glass) to the rest of your body.
Fiction: I can get miracle skin in a jar; I just haven’t found the right product yet.
Fact: There is a persistent belief that healthy, glowing skin is the result of using expensive topical creams or lotions. However, the real fountain of youth is drinking plenty of water and eating the right foods. Take a more mindful approach to what you eat. Don’t skimp on the fresh produce. Incorporating foods with healthy fats – such as avocados, olive oil and fish – into your diet is also crucial for your skin to look youthful.
When it comes to fighting the effects of aging, antioxidants are your body’s best line of defense. Some of the foods richest in antioxidants include blueberries, raspberries, spinach, nuts, green tea and dark chocolate. To make sure you are consuming enough nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, try the “rainbow approach” to planning your plate – think about what colors you’ve missed throughout the day, and try to incorporate them into your next meal.
Fiction: I can do facial exercises to get rid of my wrinkles.
Fact: Some Internet skin care advice touts a fad called “face yoga” as a way to naturally eliminate wrinkles. However, the exact opposite is true. These types of exercises can deepen the wrinkles that are present and even create new ones, due to persistent movement of the facial muscles.
Imagine folding a piece of paper over and over in the same way. It doesn’t take long before that piece of paper becomes permanently creased. The same thing happens with the fine lines and wrinkles that form in your skin. And, if you’re hoping facial exercises can reverse the effects of sagging skin, that’s also not the case. Volume loss is caused by a decrease in your skin’s ability to produce collagen and elastin – which exercise has no effect on.
Fiction: Tanned skin is healthier than pale skin.
Fact: There is no healthy or safe way to tan. Both sunlight and indoor tanning beds emit damaging UV rays that cause premature aging, discoloration and skin cancer.
Fiction: Vitamins and supplements will cure my wrinkles.
Fact: Over-the-counter skin care products promise the world, but do they deliver? Supplements and vitamins are usually harmless, but there’s no scientific proof that they improve the quality of your skin, and many of them are little more than a placebo.
Your body’s largest organ is your skin. If you expect your skin to look its best and stay healthy as you age, you can’t just take it for granted. Stress, environmental pollutants, sun damage and overuse of pore-clogging skin care products all take their toll and lead to skin that looks dull, tired and older than its real age.
If you’re unhappy with the look of your aging skin and are looking for solutions, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kulick. Not only has he earned board certification in cosmetic surgery, he has more than two decades of experience serving patients in the San Francisco area. He is a sought-after expert in skin care who is a frequent lecturer and author, and holds two patents and multiple awards.