The world of beauty can indeed be beautiful, but all too often the information you get is anything but beautiful—actually, it can be downright ugly! Sometimes the advertising and sales pitches you read and hear are minor distortions of facts or borderline deceptive; in other cases, they are out-and-out lies. Whether this information comes from a physician or from a well-intentioned website, I spends a lot of time untangling the insanity to help you get to the truth.
Below I present five beauty lies that many people believe. Perhaps you have come across this information in a magazine or online, or heard it from your doctor, a friend or a family member. No matter how you got this misinformation or where you heard these lies, I'm here to set the record straight—to give you the most up-to-date, reliable information so you can take the best possible care of your skin! Knowledge is beautiful!
Lie number 1: Dry skin? Drink more water!
The truth: We see this tip all the time, and wish it were true; after all, it doesn't get much easier than just drinking water! But, have you ever met someone who said that their dry skin went away from drinking lots of water? It doesn't happen. The truth is dry skin isn't about water consumption. If all it took to get rid of dry skin was drinking more water, then no one would have dry skin, and companies would stop selling moisturisers—and we all know that's not the case! The causes of and treatments for dry skin are far more complicated than just drinking water; plus, drinking more water than your body needs will only result in more trips to the bathroom.
Lie number 2: You can repair damaged hair.
The truth: Countless hair-care products, including hair masks and so-called "deep" conditioners, make claims of repairing hair, as if all the damaging things we do to it (colouring, straightening, brushing, sun exposure) can be mended by using these types of products. The truth is hair is dead. Period. It's dead, which is why it doesn't hurt when you get your hair cut and because it's dead, it cannot be repaired or permanently revert to its normal state. You can no more mend a hair strand than you can mend a dead leaf. What does happen when you use good conditioners and good styling products is that your damaged hair can feel smoother and softer and it can look shinier and more healthy, but it's not repaired. These products provide only a temporary fix—if you don't keep using them, you hair will go back to looking and feeling damaged. If a hair-care product could truly repair your hair, you'd need to use it only a few times and then you'd be done, but clearly that isn't what happens!
Lie number 3: There's a product that can get rid of cellulite.
The truth: The 85% of women who have cellulite would love it if this were true , but, alas, it's just one more falsehood. The cosmetics industry, and lots of doctors and aestheticians, want to sell you products and/or provide treatments (especially expensive ones) claiming to slim, trim, tone and de-bump your thighs, but if any of those worked, who would have cellulite?
Trying to navigate and separate cellulite facts from fiction isn't easy, but there is a bit of positive news. There are a few options, such as some lasers and retinoids, that may make a difference, but even these treatments, which do have some potential for working (and we mean only the "potential" for working; it's not a sure thing) rarely live up to the claims asserted. Still, a bit of improvement, as opposed to merely wasting your money, is definitely a turn for the better!
Lie number 4: One special ingredient (like vitamin C or peptides) is all ageing skin needs.
The truth: Given the advertising, it would seem that most cosmetics companies believe this is true—that one ingredient alone can do it all—because they perpetually launch products with one showcased ingredient, be it plant stem cells, a special melon extract from the south of France, or a plant oil from Morocco. Although there are lots of special ingredients that are great for skin (and hair), the truth is that giving your skin what it needs to act younger and be more healthy is far more complex than providing it with one ingredient, no matter how good it is.
Skin is the body's largest organ and it needs an array of beneficial ingredients to protect and repair itself from environmental assaults and the effects of ageing. Looking for skin-care products with one superstar ingredient cheats your skin of the range of ingredients it needs to significantly improve. Think of it like your diet: Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, but if you eat only vegetables, you soon will be malnourished because veggies alone don't provide everything the body needs to maintain itself and stay healthy.
Lie number5: Parabens are bad for you, so avoid products that contain them.
The truth: The "parabens = bad" myth is so pervasive that many people have opted to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach. We can't say we blame you for being cautious, but make sure your decision is based on facts, not on media-fuelled misinformation. As it turns out, parabens are actually some of the gentlest preservatives used in cosmetics.
Parabens may come in the form of butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben or propylparaben. They've been linked distantly (meaning in limited studies on only a handful of subjects or in animal studies) to breast cancer due to their weak oestrogenic activity and their presence in a tiny number of breast cancer tissue samples. That cancer connection, however remote, has some people worried. The truth is: There is no research proving parabens should be avoided when shopping for personal-care products, for yourself or for your family, at least no more so than avoiding plants that have oestrogenic activity.
According to published research and global cosmetics regulatory organisations, from the United States and Canada to Europe and Asia, parabens, especially in the small amounts present in personal-care products, are not a problem. According to these studies (and assuming the parabens get into the body), parabens are "fully metabolised before they enter the blood stream," which is more than can be said for some plant extracts with oestrogenic activity, but no one is trying to scare you into avoiding plants.
In a review of the research into the oestrogenic activity of parabens, the study's author concluded that based on maximum daily exposure estimates, "it was impossible that parabens could increase the risk associated with exposure to oestrogenic chemicals." Although more cosmetics companies have opted to avoid parabens, those who continue to preserve their products with them are not making a mistake. Parabens are among the most effective (and safest) preservatives around. Indeed, their undeserved reputation has left many cosmetics chemists scrambling to find equally effective options.
The next time you come across a beauty tip or a claim that sounds too simple, too good to be true or downright scary, you can almost always count on it being a beauty lie—and you can count on us to help you understand why!