We bet you know a list of cosmetic commandments as long as your arm. Do this. For the love of your complexion, do not do that.
But, though it hurts a bunch of beauty addicts like us to admit it, not all the rules are the real deal. The pros know that some mantras and ‘must-dos’ are just myths…
Myth: Every complexion needs a moisturiser
“A skin that is naturally moist [or oily] will have a very limited ability to retain more moisture and will not benefit from it anyway,” explains Dr Geoffrey Heber, cosmetic physician and founder of the Ultraceuticals skincare brand.
“There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to moisturiser,” adds paramedical skin therapist Fiona Tuck. “The one important product to use daily is sunscreen.”
Must know: Shimmery shadow emphasises eye lines
Frosted and shimmer-effect eyeshadows highlight fine lines and crow’s feet, but mature eyes can still make it work. “What’s important is how you wear it,” directs make-up artist Cassandra Rae Ferguson. “You may just want to wear less as you get older – try small hints on your bottom lids instead.”
Myth: Dehydration gives you wrinkles
“Wrinkles are [caused by] a lack of dermal strength and support due to the degradation of collagen, elastin and hyaluronan,” explains Dr Heber. “Drynes does not degrade the structure of the skin. However, if extreme, it might accentuate wrinkles already present.”
Myth: Eight glasses of water a day keeps your skin hydrated
“If the natural ability of the lipid barrier [which retains moisture] is impaired, as it becomes with age or atopic skin disorders, this may not compensate for moisture evaporation from the skin,” explains Dr Heber. The supermodels obviously have another secret.
Must-know: Match your moisturiser to the season
Your skin’s water content can change with the climate. “Moisturisation is determined by the … stratum corneum, the dead, very thin surface layer of the skin,” details Dr Heber. “When ambient humidity is low, as in winter, there will be greater evaporation from the stratum corneum than when humidity is higher. Moisturisers with more occlusive ingredients will often work better in winter or very cold climates.”
Myth: Shaving makes hair grow back thicker and darker
Impossible. The colour, location and density of hair growth is mostly genetically and hormonally programmed. Post-shave regrowth may be ‘blunt’ and appear thicker or darker at first, but it’s not.
Must know: Contrast makes your peepers pop
Matching make-up with your eye colour isn’t a no-no, but wearing a colour from the opposite or adjacent part of the colour spectrum packs more punch, Rae Ferguson explains. Brown eyes come alive with turquoise, mauves, lilacs, purples, golds, bronze and silver. Green eyes get more gorgeous with dark blue, purple, mauve, lilac, silver or turquoise. Blue eyes are brilliant when washed with gold, bronze, copper, pink, peach or chocolate brown.
Myth: Bold lipstick pares back your pout
“It’s true that pale, glossy lip colours can make lips appear fuller, but bright or dark lipstick won’t make them look smaller,” confirms Rae Ferguson. “It just won’t make them look plumper.” Statement colours actually guarantee your lips get lots more attention.
Must-know: You should have your tresses trimmed every 6-8 weeks
Regular trims are ideal, especially if you want to maintain length, but a clever stylist can save you salon time and spend. Celebrity hairdresser Brad Ngata reveals, “A good cut should still be apparent after 12 weeks, though your hair might feel heavier and more difficult to manage.” To maintain your mane between snips, step up your at-home conditioning care.
Myth: Treatments can repair split ends
A split end’s only options are camouflage and cut. Conditioning products can get things glossy and smooth on the surface, but they can’t fix frays. “Used regularly, [they can] delay hair from splitting further up the shaft. This, however, is only a temporary solution,” highlights hairdresser Alan Coban. “Ultimately, you need to have a trim.”
Must know: You can juggle skincare brands – if you know what you’re doing
Many argue that it’s marketing spin to say you shouldn’t use skincare staples from different brands. They say as long as you pick products that suit your skin type and condition, you’re set. But some experts reason that skincare regimes are about synergy. “Cosmetic formulators … try to ensure their formulations work synergistically together and perform at their optimum when used with each other,” explains Dr Diana Howard, vice president of technical development at the International Dermal Institute (IDI) and Dermalogica.
Unless you know which buys work best with others, “cherry picking” products from the skincare smorgasbord could limit the results you see or even risk ingredient overload and sensitised skin, adds Emma Hobson, also from the IDI.
Must know: You should pluck above your brows
“You can tweeze above your brow,” confirms Linda Ayoub, brow specialist at Shimmer Face & Body salon in Sydney. “To say you shouldn’t is such a myth! You need to be careful of the arch, but removing strays up the top really brings out the shape.”
Myth: Spotty skin should avoid all oils
Oil is the new way to cleanse. “Think of it as like attracting like,” explains Hobson. “Applied to dry skin, a cleansing oil will gently encapsulate excess sebum and allow it to be swept away properly with water. It leaves oil-prone skin very clean and, because it doesn’t need harsh chemicals to break down the excess oil, doesn’t dry you out and stimulate the skin to overcompensate with extra sebum.”
“Steer clear of comedogenic mineral oils, but essential oils can really benefit an oily face,” adds Tuck. “Lemon and lemongrass are detoxifying and ylang ylang is very purifying and balancing.”
Myth: Daily exfoliation overdoes it
New-gen exfoliants are actually made for secret scrub junkies, confirms Hobson. “Try a microfoliant,” she says. “These slough off surface debris, leaving the skin soft and smooth without risk.” Super sensitive? “Go for a chemical [AHA or BHA-based] exfoliant. In general, these aren’t as active [as mechanical scrubs] and can be used more frequently,” she advises.
Must-know: Pores don’t open or close
Without muscle attachments to squeeze them open and shut, pores generally don’t become bigger and smaller. The size of your pores is partly genetic, though oil overdrive and collagen-killing sun exposure can make them bulge and sag, explains cosmetic physician Dr Gabrielle Caswell. To refine oil-logged pores, try a clay-based face mask. To keep things nice and tight, count on sunscreen and promote skin-supportive collagen stores with strong doses of vitamin A.