Friday 15 December 2017

Five beauty myths dispelled

It's a complicated world of beauty out there
It's a complicated world of beauty out there

Claire O'Mahony

Old wives tale or proper beauty tip? Claire O'Mahony sifts through some of the biggest beauty myths out there.

It's a complicated world of beauty out there. We have foundations that promise to give us luminescence in selfie shots, new-generation moisturisers that will apparently restore our skin to baby-soft texture and shampoos that will detox our hair. Of course, we all know to take the more outrageous claims made by beauty companies with a healthy amount of cynicism, but no matter how up-to-speed we might be in the latest beauty advancements, there are some beauty myths still going strong. Separate the fact from fiction and you'll save yourself both time and money.

1 The SPF in my foundation and moisturiser is enough protection

Alas, it's not. Foundations and moisturisers are increasingly boasting SPF protection but the problem is they generally don't have enough to give your skin the protection it needs. You might only use a few drops of foundation but, in terms of full protection, you need a teaspoon of an SPF product. Plus, the SPF in foundations and moisturisers will be diluted. It's best instead to apply separate SPF protection to your face and neck before you put on foundation.

2 I can get rid of my cellulite

Nobody wants that orange peel effect around their thighs and bottom, but cellulite can afflict even the slimmest people. Dermatologists agree that you can't get rid of it and even liposuction won't help cellulite, and may in fact make it look worse. There's a whole industry based around creams that are supposed to get rid of these fat deposits but there's no evidence that they work in the long term. Regular exercise and a fruit-and-veg heavy diet are the most effective methods in preventing cellulite and, in terms of working with what you already have, a good self-tanner will disguise its appearance somewhat.

3 Plucking my grey hair will make more grey grow back

If this one were true, all follically challenged people would be enthusiastically getting a tweezers to their greys in the hopes that this would result in a more luxuriant head of hair. There's no credence at all to the claims that plucking grey hairs make more come back, but it's still not a good idea. You risk damaging the hair follicle and potentially causing bald spots if you do it repeatedly. A home dye kit or a colourist is really your only friend.

Also to be filed under 'Enduring hair myths of our time' is that cutting makes your hair grow faster and thicker (it doesn't, as hair grows at the same rate of approximately half an inch every month although regular trims improve its appearance), and that if you use the same products, they will stop working - your hair will still get clean, it's just that residue can sometimes build up and this makes the effects less obvious.

4 Cocoa butter stops stretch marks

Weight gain and pregnancy are the usual culprits behind unsightly stretch marks, which are caused by skin's rapid growth. Some people more than others are prone to them and the traditional cure has been to reach for a tub of cocoa butter. As wonderfully moisturising as cocoa butter is, studies have revealed that it won't stop stretch marks, nor will it improve their appearance.

Creams containing vitamin E have been found to be more effective while, more expensively, chemical peels and some laser treatments can improve their appearance. Save the cocoa butter for a deeply moisturising treatment for dry skin instead of relying on it to prevent or banish stretch marks.

5 I can get rid of my blackheads with strips

They're not the most pleasant thing to think about or sort out, and if you are afflicted, it tempting to turn to widely available adhesive strips that are applied to the nose, and promise to extract all the gunk. But they're not actually going to do your skin much good.

Blackheads are formed when there's a build up of sebum and oil in pores, and the surface oxidises, turning them black. Strips won't work because blackheads are mostly below the surface of the skin and won't adhere to the strip. What does stick is merely the top of the blackhead, meaning a new blackhead in a few days.

What you're probably seeing on the strip after using is hair and some oil. Blackheads are often stubborn things that need that attention of a professional facialist - do it yourself and you risk scarring.

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