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NOW READING Breaking the Rules: Why These Skincare “Rules” Are Really Just Myths
May 19, 2020

Breaking the Rules: Why These Skincare “Rules” Are Really Just Myths

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about skincare, but some are so prevalent, they’ve risen to the level of “rules.” Here, we debunk some of the more common (or outrageous) so-called skincare rules.


I feel like I could tell stories for the rest of my life about the things I’ve seen working in the skincare industry and still remember new things. Among all the crazy stories of people telling me they used motor oil to tan with (I’m dead serious, y’all) and using dish soap on their face, I’ve also heard some really strange “rules” that people swore by after reading something online or having been told by a friend of a friend who “knows a lot about skin.” With the sheer amount of information that we have access to nowadays, I can see how some of these so-called skincare rules come about — everyone’s just trying to feel like they’re doing the right thing for themselves, but there is definitely a lot of misinformation floating around and being taken as law.


There is no possible way for me to compile all of these so-called skincare rules in one article, but here’s a “greatest hits,” if you will, of some of the most memorable things I’ve heard and read.



skincare rules



Oil-free only


I feel like I will go on into the afterlife telling people that oily complexions can benefit from the right oils, but I continue to see skincare marketing perpetuating this fear that oils in products will cause breakouts, clogged pores, and extreme levels of shine. As a result, there’s a whole group of consumers looking to make their routines specifically oil-free because anything containing oils is apparently going to harm your skin in some way. And unfortunately, the weirdness doesn’t stop there.


I wish it was only on one occasion, but I actually met a whole host of people doing education that believe using facial oils on your skin would somehow make your skin “lazy” and stop it from producing its own oil. I can personally vouch that this isn’t true whatsoever (as can editor Sheryll), and unless you’re truly oily all over your face and live in a very humid and hot climate, a facial oil of some kind will do more good than harm.



You are what you drink


There is so much out there talking about what you should and should not drink for clear, glowing skin: drink green juice, drink water, don’t drink coffee, etc., and if you don’t drink the right things and/or avoid drinking the wrong things, your skin is going to be dry and dull.



skincare rules



Your skin is your largest organ, so if you’re not eating properly, not getting enough sleep, are dehydrated, and just not in generally good health, your skin is inevitably going to look worse for the wear, but I doubt you’d feel good in general in a state like this. That being said, there has been no research proving that drinking water somehow directly increases the hydration of your skin, and I’ve also seen some proof that coffee, while definitely not as hydrating as water, doesn’t dehydrate your body like alcohol or certain teas can. So keep calm and sip on, people.



Exfoliation frequency


Exfoliation is something that I believe has a place in almost everyone’s routine, but there’s no set rules on how often you should be exfoliating your skin. Some people believe that you must be very gentle, and if you exfoliate more than once a week you’re going to cause some massive issue, while the other school of thought is that you need to exfoliate morning and night every day. Hard pass on both schools of thought for me. Your skin, for better or worse, isn’t a constant thing that always behaves the same way, so depending on what it’s doing and what’s going on with you (i.e. traveling, sleep schedule, changes in your environment, etc.), your exfoliation needs will change.





For example, I normally exfoliate three to four times a week, but there are times when I dial back to twice or even once a week when I feel like my skin is moving towards the realm of over-exfoliated/sensitized skin, which has happened a few times since I’ve started incorporating retinoids regularly. Do your best to pay attention to how your skin is feeling on any given day before exfoliating, and always err on the side of caution. A little extra dead skin and congestion is a lot easier to manage than tight, irritated skin in full SOS mode.



Don’t rub your face


This is a concept that I knew of before I even seriously got involved in skincare or beauty. Everyone and their mother (literally) will tell you to not rub or tug your face because it’s going to cause wrinkles over time. If you’re mashing and contorting your face for extended periods of time, sure, that may have some impact, but there are many people who believe that you should barely rub your face even when cleansing or that will cause deep wrinkles and premature aging.



skincare rules



If y’all have seen my article about my facial massage routine, you know that I clearly do not have an issue with rubbing my face. Yes, you should use some type of cleanser or oil/cream to massage your face, but that’s more so to avoid irritation by rubbing dry skin for an extended period of time, not because you’re going to rapidly accelerate your aging process.



Moisturize your dermis


There’s a bit of race right now in the Korean skincare market for maximum hydration; so many new toners and serums are being launched all boasting about how many different hydrating ingredients are included, ranging from plant-derived ingredients like aloe and vegetable glycerin to multiple weights of hyaluronic acid. I’ve seen up to nine weights of hyaluronic acid featured in some toners and serums, and this hydration train is not slowing down.



skincare rules



However, it seems like a lot of people are inferring from this marketing that these ingredients are somehow going much deeper into your skin than they are. I’ve started seeing articles by supposed medical professionals who are advising you to hunt for these “deeply moisturizing” ingredients because you need to make sure your dermis is moisturized to truly moisturize your skin.


Ummm. No. Please do not try to moisturize your dermis, because for anything to reach that deep in your skin — past your epidermis — you would need to use a needle or a very invasive cosmetic procedure. I honestly can’t believe that I’m having to talk about this, but please do not think this is some amazing discovery that you need to make sure you incorporate.


What are some crazy so-called skincare rules that you’ve come across or used to believe?



Born in Korea and raised in Washington, Leo is another 20-something member of the K-Beauty Squad that is as committed to his love of skincare as he is to wine and cheese covered snack foods. After working as an educator and trainer in the beauty industry, he joined the team at Beautytap to continue sharing his knowledge and passion for skincare and all things chok-chok. During his free time, he’s been spotted in the wild bingeing Netflix shows, blasting K-pop while playing video games, or (much more rarely) leaving his hovel to venture forth in search of cocktails and Korean BBQ.




There are so many myths about skincare that are so untrue! I grew up thinking I had to wash my face with hot water to open my pores. Boy was I wrong. Washing your face with hot water is drying and makes your skin more sensitive. It is the steam that opens your pores, so you can just let them open up from the steam of a hot shower. Cleanse with the product of your choice, rinse with warm water, and moisturize for the best results.


YES! It's crazy how many myths there are and how many people don't research them before putting products on their faces.


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OMG so many crazy skincare myths that have no basis but for whatever reason keeps getting repeated so you just assume its true! I can't even count how many clients have told me they don't wear sunscreen on cloudy days, during the winter, or just the use the sunscreen that comes in their foundation. Seriously?!? Even on a cold,cloudy day, UV radiation from the sun reaches the earth's surface. What would make you think the clouds are not protecting you from anything! And as far as makeup goes, you would have to put on 14 or 15 times... Read more


Sunscreen is super important even on a cloudy day! We are all busy people on the go, but just take a few minutes to apply sunscreen before you leave. Your skin will thank you for it!


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I love this article!! There are so many things I see circulating on social media about skin care that make me cringe as someone that has studied and is licensed in skin care. People don't realize how damaging things can be to skin. This is why it is important to have an expert guide you because what might work for one person's skin, might not work for you. Everyone's skin is unique to them and their habits and environment need to be taken into consideration when determining what is best for your skin.


Social media can be a great tool, but so many time internet fads get a hold of the wrong things! The most important thing I always tell people is what works for you might not work for other people and vise versa. Skincare is personal and you have to treat it as such!


Right on! i love using oils on my face and some people have mentioned that they broke out from a particular product they used. However, it could be that the ingredient broke them out as one could be sensitive it.


It's interesting to find out how many of my friends don't use products because of their oily skin, when in fact, they SHOULD use them for their skin! Thanks for the clarification on all these skincare myths. I'm especially happy about the "you are what you drink" part--I can't live without caffeine!


Facial massages are also actually proven to be very good for your skin, since its increases blood circulation to your face, pushing gunk and bad stuff out your skin even more so. That's why crystal (jade, rose quartz, etc) rollers are so popular, because its a self-given massage!


I get so worried when people use extreme mud masks (like the Aztec Indian Clay mask) copious amounts of times in the week (4-5 times) to get rid of acne when really that could be making it more susceptible to dirt as well as pushing more gunk out, causing your skin to break out even more. I suggest only 2 times a week, for sensitive skin only once a week, to give your skin a break and to heal from such harsh conditions.


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I agree that many people place too much emphasis on what they eat and drink and the state of their skin. Obviously if you are dying of starvation and dehydration you will see an impact on your skin, but otherwise there is no proof of correlation. However, some studies suggest that taking a hyaluronic acid supplement daily can increase moisture levels in the skin.


Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

"Moisturize your dermis" is by far the most interesting skincare advice I've ever heard. I think the biggest takeaway from this article is that every person's skin is different and needs different things. Same goes for your body. When it comes to it, listen to your body and start there. And if you hear something that sounds out of this world, please ask a professional. Great read, Leo!