Every generation seems to live and die by its own set of beauty myths. In our grandmother's era, women counted on the fact that 100 strokes a day would keep their hair shiny and healthy. Similarly, they also ate a lot of Jell-O, believing that consuming gelatin would make their nails grow stronger. Considering how hungry women are for some hard-and-fast rules about holding onto their looks, who can blame them for buying into these myths?
Indeed, the same could be said of women today. These old notions have been replaced by a whole new crop of beauty myths. Here are 10 of them and some help in separating fact from fiction.
Myth No. 1: Drinking lots of water keeps skin youthful-looking.
People have got to stop drinking numerous glasses of water a day, thinking it is helping their skin. Water does help clean the kidneys and acts as an appetite suppressant. But short of bloating and temporarily getting rid of some wrinkling, it doesn't do a whole lot for the complexion.
Myth No. 2: Soap is bad for the skin.
People have been bullied in the past: "You use soap on your skin? Oh, my word!". Traditional soap was a mix of animal fats and fruit/vegetable oils. This has a high pH and can in fact be drying, particularly to aging skin. But these days, newer soaps have been formulated with synthetic surfactants, which cleanse skin in a milder manner than true soap. Some soaps even have emollients (moisturizers) added, so they are good for the skin. If you prefer that "squeaky-clean" feeling soap provides, there's nothing wrong with using it.
Myth No. 3: A split end can be repaired.
This is true only if you're willing to snip the hair beyond the point of the split. While some conditioners can temporarily 'glue' split ends back together, there is no way to re-attach the hair shaft permanently when the individual layers of cells separate. This is the result of too-frequent or too-harsh chemical processing, styling or just plain over washing. When shampooing, concentrate on cleansing the scalp, which is mostly where skin oil accumulates. As the shampoo is rinsed out, it will clean the length of the hair.
Myth No. 4: It's too late to start using sunscreen.
It's never too late to start protecting skin from the sun. The cumulative effect of the sun is what's damaging, so by avoiding it, you could halt some of its progress. Furthermore, there is clinical evidence that once you start protecting the skin, it has the ability to repair itself. This repair is not going to happen overnight; it's a gradual process that can take a couple years to yield significant results.
Myth No. 5: Scalp massage can turn around hair loss.
If it can, it's never been scientifically proven. Proponents of massage, claim myriad benefits, including an increase in circulation to the scalp, which causes the hair bulb to be flooded with the nutrients necessary for healthy hair growth. However the scalp is already one of the most vascularized areas of the body. There may be a placebo or anti-stress component, which could account for the limited success in a few people.
Myth No. 6: You can shrink a pore.
The size of your pores is genetically determined. Cosmetic companies are making many millions by convincing women they can be shrunk. Once you reach puberty, the pores become their adult size. However, they can appear to be overly enlarged if they become impacted with keratin, sebaceous material or bacteria. Anti-agers such as Retin-A and alpha-hydroxy acids can break up these materials to return pores to their normal appearance.
Myth No. 7: Dry skin causes wrinkles.
The reality is that most of the lines and wrinkles you see in the mirror were caused by the sun. The other 20 percent are the result of facial expressions such as smiling and frowning. If one smokes, the appearance of these wrinkles are accelerated many years. However if someone is very dehydrated, the skin will appear more wrinkled. Also as one ages, the skin makes less natural oil. This will make the wrinkling more apparent. A moisturizer will help smooth away some early fine lines.
Myth No. 8: Alcohol-free is better.
Hardly. When people see 'alcohol' on a label, they usually think of isopropyl, or rubbing alcohol which imparts a cooling, drying sensation to the skin. This however couldn't be further from the truth. From a biochemical viewpoint alcohol just means that there's a molecular compound with an OH at the end of it. What's at the other end could completely alter its behavior in products. For example, cetyl, benzyl or oleyl alcohol are all so-called fatty alcohols, which act as emollients. These decrease water loss from the skin and soften it.
Myth No. 9: Everybody needs a moisturizer.
This is another multi-million dollar myth the cosmetic companies want you to believe. In reality, you only need a moisturizer if you experience the following clinical signs: redness, scaliness or itchiness. These are more frequently seen in cold weather. The drier your skin, the heavier a moisturizer you need. When does it make sense to have two different moisturizers? If you're extremely dry on, say your hand and only moderately dry on your body, use separate products.
Myth No. 10: Once you have a face lift, you'll need another.
This sounds like a myth that a lot of celebrities have taken at 'face' value, but it has no basis in fact. What is true is that a face lift doesn't reverse the aging process. It just makes you look better than you would have looked without it from that point on. It's not unusual for a person who's had a face lift to decide one still looks pretty good, or at least better than all ones friends, and opt out of the second surgery.