When it comes to beauty tips, some advice defies logical explanation. And yet these beauty myths are widespread and continue to trip us up. With theories like facial yoga preventing wrinkles (cough, waste of time!) and feeling that you need to buy all your skincare products from the same line, here are the 13 biggest beauty myths—and the truth behind each.
Beauty Myth: Brows should always match your hair.
This is old-school thinking, Gafni says. “Brows can be two to three shades lighter or darker than your hair color and still be extremely flattering,” she says. “It really depends on your taste and the look you’re trying to achieve.” As a rule, the darker the brow, the bolder and edgier the look.
Beauty Myth: Tanning beds are safer than tanning outside.
This couldn’t be farther than the truth, agree dermatologists across the country. Melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—has become an epidemic among young women in this country, and experts believe tanning beds are to blame. In fact, even just one session in a tanning bed increases your risk of melanoma. When it comes to getting some color, the only safe option is self-tanner. Period.
Beauty Myth: A “base tan” will protect you from getting a sunburn.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a tan does not provide enough protection against the sun. Actually, a tan is really like a big scab, says the CDC. When skin cells are damaged due to exposure to UV rays, the response is to produce more pigment.
Beauty Myth: You should never put oil on oily skin.
Not only does oil-prone skin need hydration, but adding oil can actually help the skin produce less oil in the long run. “When a person with oily skin uses a cleanser that removes all of the natural oils, the skin will overcompensate by producing more oil,” says Melissa Mitchel Willis, a makeup artist and image consultant in New Orleans. Add a little oil and the reverse will happen.
Beauty Myth: All skin damage occurs before age 18.
While we do get a significant amount of sun damage by the time we graduate from high school, it certainly does not stop at that point, says David Bank, M.D., a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age. “This is why it’s important for everyone to wear SPF on a daily basis,” Bank says. Slathering on a broad spectrum sunscreen is the best way to prevent sun damage, skin cancer, and premature wrinkles.
Beauty Myth: Facial exercises keep the skin taut.
Remember when the real housewives of New York did facial yoga to prevent wrinkles? Yeah, it was for no good reason, Bank says. “Exercise does strengthen, tighten, and tone muscles, but it will not do anything to tighten the skin,” he adds. “In fact, repetitive muscle contraction can actually lead to further collagen breakdown.”
Beauty Myth: All of your skincare needs to be from the same line.
Actually, different product lines may excel in different areas and use different ingredients that will benefit your skin, Bank says. “Highly qualified chemists are employed by virtually all of the major skincare brands and manufacturers,” he says. So, no matter what kind of marketing whiz tries to convince you that one particular brand has all the best science and chemists under one roof, it’s just not true.
Beauty Myth: You can get rid of cellulite.
Sadly, cellulite is a complicated problem. While cellulite may be improved temporarily by any number of products or treatments, there is currently nothing that will permanently get rid of it, Bank explains.
Beauty Myth: Cutting your hair will make it grow faster and thicker.
“Hair fibers are dead tissue,” says Alan J. Bauman, M.D., a board-certified hair restoration physician and hair science expert. “Your follicle doesn’t know when you cut your hair short.” If it seems like your hair grows like a weed after a trim, it’s an illusion. “When hair is shorter, it appears to grow faster because the added length over time is in greater proportion to the total length,” Bauman says. “Think about it: Adding one inch when the hair is five inches long looks like faster growth than adding one inch to 10-inch long hair.” Scott Fontana, a celebrity stylist and owner of Cristophe Salon in Newport Beach, Calif., agrees. “If you want to grow your hair faster, don’t cut it—take care of it,” Fontana advises.
Beauty Myth: If you pluck a gray hair, two will grow back.
Luckily, Bauman insists that getting rid of these first signs of old age will not make you look even older in the long run. Chalk this one up to an old wives’ tale!
Beauty Myth: Waxing makes hair grow back thinner in a matter of weeks.
While waxing does damage the hair follicle, which does lead to short-term thinning of the hair, that thinning is temporary, says David Goldberg, M.D., a physician in Boca Raton, Fla. “Within two to three months of waxing, the hair will be just as thick as it was before you waxed,” Goldberg says. “Only electrolysis and laser hair removal lead to permanent hair thinning and reduction.”
Beauty Myth: Using Preparation H under the eyes erases dark circles.
Not only does Preparation H do squat for those wrinkles, bags, and circles under your eyes, but it’ll also leave you with a very medical scent, says Scott Patric, lead makeup artist for Project Runway and Under the Gunn.
Beauty Myth: You should never tweeze above the brow.
Aching for arches like Cara Delevingne’s? You don’t have to abandon all tweezing above your brow. “Go ahead and remove those hairs above the brow that are not part of the eyebrow and not quite part of your hairline,” says Ramy Gafni, a celebrity makeup artist and brow expert. “The key is not to remove hairs that are too close to the eyebrow, which can result in the brow looking too thin.” Not sure which hairs to pluck and which ones to keep? “Leave the serious above-the-brow shaping to a pro,” Gafni says.