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Common Dermatologic Myths

By Ross S. Levy, MD FAAD | Dermatology

1. Soap is not good for the skin.

Soap and cleansers contain surfactants that are essential for facial care. Water alone cannot rid the skin of oils, dirt and grime which we all encounter every day. For that “cover girl” complexion, do not be afraid to wash with a favorite soap or cleanser at least once if not twice daily.

2. Dry skin and wrinkling

Dry skin does not cause or lead to wrinkling. The wrinkles that most of us develop are due to environmental exposure, especially sun exposure. Smoking, smiling, talking, and frowning also, of course contribute to our lines as we age. That is why dermatologists feel so strongly about the daily use of sunscreen.

3. Drinking lots of water will improve our skin.

The body is a really efficient “machine”. It tells us how much water we need every day. If your urine is dark yellow, then you are not hydrating well enough and if you are running to the bathroom every hour and your urine is clear, then you are probably drinking too much water. Water is important for our general health, but more is not better for your skin.

4. Pores can be made smaller.

Genetics rule here. We need to be good to our pores and keep them open and clean. Cleansing and the use of tretinoin cream (commonly known as Retin-­A) may keep our pores the smallest that they can be, but generally they cannot be adjusted.

5. We all need to moisturize.

The cosmetic companies would like all of us to use moisture cream 5 times a day. It helps their bottom line. If the skin is very dry, itchy, red, then moisture cream is indicated. The skin is drier in the winter than in the summer and it may require moisture cream during those colder months, but it should not be a “knee-­ jerk” response. Sunscreen often contains enough moisturizing ingredients and be able to do “double – duty”.

6. I am too old to start using sunscreen.  

That just is wrong. It’s never too late. Sunscreen helps to prevent skin cancer and sun damage. Everyone should be applying sunscreen, every day of the year.

7. Washing the hair frequently can contribute to hair loss.

This is never the case. The hair and scalp need to be cleansed in order to remain healthy. We do not lose any more or less hair by maintaining this important part of our hygiene – washing the hair!

 8. The more expensive the cream, the greater the benefit.

There is no correlation here. Do not pay for pretty packaging and beautiful containers. A well recognized national brand that is reasonable in price is all that is necessary.

9. Facials keep you skin young.

There is nothing like a good facial. It makes you feel good. It is a great cleansing of the skin. That is it; that is where it ends. The extra exfoliation of the skin from a facial is good for the skin, but your wrinkling will still march on.

10. Botox will change your face

Botox should be used appropriately and carefully. It will help reduce those wrinkle lines -­ at least temporarily. However, the changes are temporary. Now that said, if Botox is used on a regular basis, then the formation of lines may be slowed down.