Skin Health

The Truth About Ten Skin Myths

Although many of us believe we know the facts and myths of skin care, that’s not always the case. Here, experts from Harvard Medical School set the record straight on some common information.

Myth #1. Keep your skin looking young by using the right skin cream.

Yes, there are many skin treatments that claim to slow the aging process. And the Harvard experts say that the most reliable one is retinoic acide (Retin-A, for example). But the best way to keep skin looking young, the experts say, is to use sunscreen and steer clear of smoking.

Myth #2. The best way to keep your skin clean is to use antibacterial soap.

According to the Harvard experts, skin naturally has bacteria, and you can’t keep it bacteria-free for any length of time. And many experts worry that the use of antibacterial soaps could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacterial. A better method to prevent infection, the Harvard experts say, is to wash hands consistently and thoroughly.

Myth #3. Eating chocolate causes acne.

The truth, say the Harvard experts, is that acne is caused by an oily substance called sebum. It’s made by the skin, and there’s not evidence that chocolate or oily foods cause acne.

Myth #4. Tanning is always bad for you.

It’s true that spending too much time tanning – either in the sun or a tanning booth – can up your risk of skin cancer. But, the Harvard experts say, gradually developing a light tan through careful sun exposure isn’t dangerous. They recommend using thoroughly applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying it regularly. Additionally, the experts say, avoid peak sun times.

Myth #5. Tanning is always good for you.

Although people sometimes associate a dark tan with good health, the Harvard experts say there’s no evidence that that’s so. However, the sun can give you a health benefit in the form of vitamin D. The vitamin, the experts say, helps keeps bones strong and may boost immune function as well as lower the risk of some cancers. If you’re not getting enough D in your diet, insufficient sun exposure could increase the risk of a vitamin D deficiency.

Myth #6. The higher your sunscreen’s SPF, the better.

The experts recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF or at least 30, because that blocks 97 percent of UV radiation. And if you are planning to be out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., a higher SPF may be practical. But in most circumstances, the experts say, a higher SPF isn’t worth the money.

Myth #7. A barely noticeable scar is the mark of a good surgeon.

According to the Harvard experts, a surgeon’s skill is shown by what he or she actually does in the procedure, rather than the size of the scar that occurs as a result.

Myth #8. Vitamin E will make scars fade.