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About Your Skin: Fact or Fiction

About Your Skin: Fact or Fiction?


‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’
John Keats


We know to knock on wood, not walk under ladders, and to be careful what we wish for. And if we pluck a gray hair, will two more really grow back in its place? All of us have heard the claims, the persistent beauty secrets from our mothers and grandmothers that go back probably to their own mothers and grandmothers. Is there a kernel of truth to them, perhaps some wisdom that comes from generations of passed-down observation? Or are they just myths?

Wrinkles form at an early age but don’t appear until later in life
Yes, the changes to the skin that cause wrinkles can start when you are young, and show up later in life. There are primarily two types of wrinkles.

One type, dynamic wrinkles or lines of expression, occur from movement of the underlying muscle. Examples of this sort are frown lines, crow’s feet and forehead lines. At first these may be visible only during active expression. Over time, however, they become visible even at rest. For example, squinting eventually can cause wrinkles around the eyes. Treatment with Botox® can be quite effective in smoothing this type of wrinkle, because it prevents the communication between the nerve endings and the muscles treated, creating a smoothing effect that generally lasts 3-6 months. Botox® also offers a preventive benefit, because the muscles aren’t scrunching up the skin and damaging the collagen.

The second type is caused by aging and sun damage. Ultimately, wrinkles occur with the weakening of the collagen and elastin fibers that keep the skin firm. It’s also useful to remember that sun exposure is the number one cause of collagen degeneration. Gravity is also a culprit in the formation of wrinkles.

Exfoliating slows hair growth
There is no evidence that exfoliation changes any phase of the hair, follicular, life cycle. The follicular life cycle of hair takes place in 3 phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen. The anagen phase is the phase of active growth. The catagen marks follicular regression, and the telogen represents a resting period. Exfoliation has no effect on these stages of the hair growth cycle.

Greasy food causes acne
Acne has commonly been attributed to diet. The association between acne and diet was evaluated in a recent literature review of 27 studies. Observational studies, including 2 large controlled prospective trials, reported that cow’s milk intake increased acne prevalence and severity. Prospective studies, including randomized controlled trials, also demonstrated a positive association between a high-glycemic-load diet, hormonal mediators, and acne risk. Studies have been inconclusive regarding the association between acne and other foods.

Lemon juice gets rid of freckles
Probably Fiction
There is no evidence-based science proving that this works. If you want to try this treatment, consider doing it on only half the area, so that you can judge the results for yourself. Caution is required though as the citric acid may be irritating and can cause the skin to be photosensitive.

The sun clears up blemishes
Probably Fiction
While some people feel their acne improves with light exposure, there is no proven effect of sun on acne. The increased humidity of summer may even exacerbate acne for some people. Ultraviolet light in sun (UVA, UVB) increases skin aging and the risk of skin cancer, so it is not advisable to use this as a treatment. For more info on sunlight and its impact on skin see

Toothpaste dries up pimples
Fact with Caution
Toothpaste can be drying, and this might occasionally be helpful, but it could also cause irritation. Also, it’s better for your treatment program to prevent acne lesions from developing rather than treating them after they have already surfaced.

You can get rid of cellulite
Not as of yet
First, cellulite is normal. In varying degrees, every adult woman is likely to have it. Unfortunately for the prevailing cosmetic preferences of today, treating cellulite presents a challenge. Existing treatments can yield temporary improvement, but long-term clearing is probably not realistic. Newer technologies are being developed which seem promising. Non-invasive skin tightening procedures such as Thermage can provide reasonable skin tightening and contouring, but the long-term effect on cellulite is less reliable.

Shaving makes hair come back thicker and darker
Shaving does remove the fine tip of the hair, leaving behind the thicker hair below the tip. Doing this creates an illusion that the hair is thicker, when it really is just blunted. That hair will fall out in a few weeks, just as all hair does, when the follicle enters the rest phase. Then it will reactivate. When it re-grows, its size will be the same as before.

Sleeping on satin pillows will keep wrinkles at bay
Satin is soft and luxurious, but there are no good studies to support this. On the other hand, your sleeping position does have an impact on facial lines, especially nasolabial folds. So, sleep on your back if you can.

And don’t forget gray hair…

If You Pluck a Gray Hair, Two More Will Grow Back in Its Place
Thankfully, fiction
Gray hair proliferates quickly, so it seems that once you see one gray hair, you start noticing them all over your head, as if they multiplied overnight. But each follicle produces one strand of hair, no more, no less. Plucking a gray hair won’t cause more hairs to sprout from the same follicle. Actually, plucking can cause you to lose hair, since yanking can damage the follicle or destroy it completely. It’s okay to tweeze the occasional stray gray, but if your hair is already thin or thinning, getting it colored might be your best bet.

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