There’s no denying people want good skin—I mean, the skincare industry is projected to be worth $180.6 billion in 2024, and 10-year-olds are going viral for their newfound love of Sephora. But with all of this press (and over 260 billion views of #beauty on TikTok) comes misinformation. From old wives tales to just straight-up BS, there are a lot of skincare myths out there that dermatologists are dying to finally debunk.
We asked a dermatologist to, once and for all, give us the answers: What’s fact and what’s fiction?
Fatima Fahs, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Michigan where she practices medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology.
1. Does wearing makeup cause acne?
So you wore a full face of makeup and woke up the next day with a zit. What gives? Makeup alone doesn’t cause acne, but there could be ingredients in your cosmetics that are clogging your pores that lead to breakouts, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Some comedogenic ingredients include coconut oil, fragrance, and sometimes silicone.
According to board-certified dermatologist and founder of the Dermy Doc Box Dr. Fatima Fahs, if you’re wearing makeup, make sure to adopt a “skin first mentality,” meaning you should never skip your skincare routine beforehand (including sunscreen) and always take it off before bed.
Also, if you’re breaking out after wearing makeup, it might not be about the ingredients. Make sure your makeup brushes are clean and that none of your products are expired.
2. Can doing at-home facial exercises tighten your face?
If you’ve watched TikTok in the last year, you’ll know all about gua sha. There are thousands of videos on the platform of people claiming gua sha and facial massages reduced their wrinkles, gave them a jawline, and overall tightened skin. But is it bogus?
There has been very little research done on the efficacy of facial massage and gua sha (we can only expect this to change in the next decade), so any evidence of this change is anecdotal.
If you’re using facial massages to slim down your face, while you might notice an immediate difference due to the de-puffing nature of massage, there’s no way to “spot reduce” fat (just like how it’s impossible to reduce the size of your wrists or fingers without losing weight all over).
As far as wrinkles go, the use of the muscle is what causes creases and fine lines, not the opposite. This is why Botox works: It paralyzes the muscle so you avoid making those expressions that lead to wrinkles. So doing facial exercises to remove wrinkles is backward; however, the anecdotal evidence that facial massage (through your fingers or gua sha) is pretty strong. Can we say that facial massages reduce wrinkles? No, but it doesn’t hurt, and it feels good, so we’re for it.
3. Do at-home chemical peels work?
There’s a reason chemical peels are only administered by the pros. “Medical-grade chemical peels are meant for the office setting because we are applying them in a controlled manner and looking for specific endpoints to evaluate how much your skin can tolerate,” Dr. Fahs said. “Experimenting on your own can result in significant facial burns and even scarring.” Whatever you do, Dr. Fahs said, don’t try to create a DIY at-home chemical peel—it’s a recipe for disaster.
Instead, Dr. Fahs recommended mini peels, like an AHA/BHA serum or mask that exfoliates the top layer of skin.
4. Can you use facial oils if you have oily skin?
Just because you have oily skin doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be moisturizing. However, the level of moisture your skin needs is probably different from someone with a dryer skin type. But surprisingly, oil can actually be a better option for oily skin. Oil attracts oil, so it can often balance sebum production while deeply nourishing the skin at the same time.
Opt for non-comedogenic moisturizers and oils that are made for oily skin, like Herbivore’s Lapis Blue Tansy Oil.
5. Is all-natural, non-toxic always better for your skin?
Skincare is so subjective: What works for your skin might not work for your best friend’s skin or even your mom’s skin. Because of this, no products are “better” than others. It’s all about what works for you. While some people find true love with non-toxic, “clean” beauty, others might require those highly-studied ingredients like retinol and vitamin C to get their skin to the same place. The term “clean” also isn’t regulated in the United States, meaning you should take any products labeled as such with a grain of salt.
6. Can your pores get bigger or smaller by using certain products?
All those products that are targeted at making your pores “smaller” are a lie. The size of your pores, like most aspects of your skin, is linked to genetics, not the products you use. Your pores can’t permanently change size, but exfoliating and clearing them out (especially with in-office extractions) can make pores look temporarily smaller because they’re not clogged.
If pores are a big skin concern for you, there are in-office treatments like lasers and micro-needling that can build collagen and firm the skin and make pores look smaller.
7. Do you really need to use sunscreen indoors?
Just because you’re not basking in the sunshine on a Cabo trip doesn’t mean the sun isn’t impacting your skin right now. “Harmful UVA rays are still making their way to your skin from your windows,” Dr. Fahs said. “In addition, blue light from our phones or laptops are being emitted and have been shown to contribute to worsening hyperpigmentation.” Unless you’re in a dark room all day with no natural sunlight, start an everyday sunscreen routine.