10 Common Beauty Myths Unraveled and Debunked

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We have all heard many outrageous beauty myths and many of them seem to stand the test of time. In today’s blog post, we have rounded up the top 10 beauty myths and the rational explanation as to why they are not actually true. Interested? Keep reading...

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Myth #1: Collagen Drinks Improve Skin Elasticity and Texture

Do collagen drinks work? And, is there such a thing as vegetable collagen? Collagen only exists in the tissues of animals, so the idea of being able to get collagen from plant-based sources is absolutely false [1]. In the vegetable kingdom, cellulose and polysaccharides will take up the role of this fibrous and structural protein [1].

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What vegetarian collagen drinks or supplements do is to provide you with the building blocks of collagen: amino acids (glycine, proline, hydroxyproline) and vitamin C. With regards to collagen drinks benefits, a few studies do support the claim that oral collagen supplements can improve skin collagen density, elasticity, and hydration with no reported side effects[2][3]. We say a few because the majority of oral collagen research was funded by the same companies that produce it; hence, we can't use those studies as reliable sources. The main problem with the clinical trials is that the results are not statistically significant[2][3]. It is possible that the improvement that the guinea pigs experienced was due to better dietary habits (which are common in people who start taking collagen).

We also need to take into consideration the fact that oral collagen, hydrolyzed collagen to make it more readily absorbable, is broken down in our digestive system into its constituent amino acids before they reach the bloodstream (if any). If it does, how can someone guarantee that they will be transported to the skin? If collagen is lacking from more essential tissues, it will be directly taken there instead. At this point, the verdict of collagen drinks and supplements is inconclusive. The monthly investment might not be worth it, especially considering that affordable foods like bone broth, gelatin, and agar (gelatinous polysaccharide obtained from red algae) can act in a similar way.

Myth #2: Oils Are Bad For Oily Skin And Acne

Here we go again! The super dreaded oils. Taking Eastern cultures as a reference, we should have learned by now that oils are essential to skin health. Did you know that human sebum is made up of fatty acids, squalane, vitamin E, triglycerides, waxy esters?[4] Oily and acne prone complexions have less than ideal linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, and vitamin E levels[4]. This causes the squalane to oxidize and solidify, hence promoting the appearance of impurities[5]. In addition, the lack of certain lipids compromises the skin barrier function and translates into dehydration and inflammation[5].

Research has proven that when the linoleic acid balance is restored, the size and frequency of comedones is significantly reduced[6]. Think twice the next time you buy an oily skin product, because the oil-free trend is doing more harm than good. Instead, focus on formulas that offer a high concentration of linoleic acid-rich oils, such as argan, jojoba, pomegranate, rosehip, squalane, etc., and keep the oleic acid-rich oils to a minimum, such as coconut, cocoa butter, palm, soy, etc.

Myth #3: If You Shave Your Legs, Hair Will Grow Back Thicker

This is a tough one as the scientific explanation does not match what many women have experienced in real life. According to science, this myth is false. When we shave, we cut the hair shaft at its chunkiest part using a blunt angle. So, when it starts growing back it will appear thicker, darker, and coarser. If we let hair grow to its full length, the thickness and pigment will normalize, though, it will still be bristly to the touch. The bad and sad news is that most of us never get our “old hair” back after shaving. It is way more noticeable, and we feel prompted to shave it as soon as it starts coming out so as to avoid the “prickly” look. Whatever your experience with shaving has been, the most important aspect is to determine how often to shave the legs (or any other bodily area).

There are absolutely no contraindications to shaving on a daily basis; however, you will be more prone to irritation. Everybody's hair growth rate is different but, as a rule of thumb, we recommend shaving every other day (or even every 3 days if it is on the slower side). Remember to always shave against the direction that hair grows, unless your hair is curly, and do it in the shower/bath under warm water to keep those painful and unsightly ingrown hairs at bay.

Myth #4: Exfoliation Is Not A MUST

The skin sheds dead skin cells every day, but that doesn't mean that we should rely solely on natural desquamation in order to maintain a healthy and radiant look. Keratinocytes comprise around 80% of the epidermis cells (outermost layer of the skin), and they take approximately 40-56 days to renew themselves provided there are no conditions that affect this cycle[7]. As we age, cell turnover slows down and can take 2-3 times longer for the skin cells to travel to the skin surface (this could also be affected by a cold environment). Furthermore, we are now immersed in an environment that doesn't have anything to do with the pristine one that we used to enjoy when we started our adventure on planet Earth. We are literally exposed to thousands of pollutants that come from cosmetics, cleaning products, factories, cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust fumes, etc. All this stuff accumulates on the surface of the skin, like it or not.

We haven't even mentioned that some people suffer from acne prone skin, and they need to continuously apply products that unclog their pores and remove the after-spot pigmentation from their complexions. For all these reasons, it is crucial to make exfoliation a part of our skincare routines. How often should you exfoliate your face? Well, that depends on a number of factors. We would say that 2-3 times per week is a safe number for people who do not suffer from infectious or inflammatory conditions. If you fall under the latter category, please consult your esthetician or dermatologist for an individualized regime.

Myth #5: Chocolate Causes Acne

If someone asked us: does chocolate cause acne? Our honest answer would be: it really depends on the type of chocolate that you eat. Cocoa is one of the best natural sources of magnesium, copper, potassium, and iron[8]. It is also rich in flavanols, which are potent polyphenol antioxidants that keep the skin looking youthful. Cocoa does contain oleic acid and saturated fats, but these are mostly the non-cholesterol raising ones[8]. These fats are responsible for the softening and protective properties that cacao butter provides. Gorging on conventional chocolate is a completely different story, we regret to tell you. Why? Because it is made with sugar and milk. Studies have shown that high glycemic load foods like sugar produce more acne lesions and of greater severity[9]. When you eat these foods, androgens, and IGF-1(insulin-like growth factor-1) levels are increased, resulting in excess sebum secretion and hyperkeratinization (excess keratin prevents the cells of the inner lining of the follicle from shedding, thus promoting comedones formation)[9]. Dairy has a comparable impact on IGF-1[9]. If you are prone to acne, or want to regulate your insulin levels, it is better to switch to vegan dark chocolate, sweetened with unprocessed stevia or monk fruit. Eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate is one the healthiest habits that you can acquire.

Myth #6: Medical Grade Is The Only Skincare That Works

This one is a resounding no. Medical-grade formulas are also known as cosmeceuticals, which are a hybrid between a cosmetic and a pharmaceutical. So, they are thought to contain higher concentrations of active ingredients, better delivery systems, which translates into more benefits, and have been subjected to in-depth clinical studies to back up their claims. The truth is that the term cosmeceutical has no legal meaning in the USA or Europe; your product is either a cosmetic or a drug (or both). It is that simple. Regular skincare brands can also be quite effective and many of them also carry out performance tests to prove their action on the skin. There is nothing preventing them from adding innovative ingredients either.

Splurging hundreds of dollars in medical grade skincare will not guarantee you a beautiful complexion. What's more, these products could end up messing up your skin especially if you are not guided by someone knowledgeable through their application. It is important to clarify that cosmeceuticals are not the same as the medical treatments performed at a doctor’s office (like deep peels) or the dermatological drugs prescribed by them. Those are only recommended under very specific circumstances and are not at everyone´s reach as a cosmeceutical.

Myth #7: The Higher The SPF, The Better

We have previously discussed the UV-screening potential of the different SPFs . Judging by the protection percentages listed below, there is really not a huge difference between an SPF 30 and an SPF 100 sunscreen[10].

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 96.7% UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% UVB rays
  • SPF 100 blocks 99% UVB rays

Now, let's look at these values from a different perspective and focus on the number of photons (light particles that reach the skin). With SPF 15, it will be 7; SPF 30, 3.2; SPF 50, 2; and SPF 100, only 1. These values were determined in a lab setting and could change in a real-life scenario. Since sun damage is cumulative, experts think it would be a wise idea to apply a sunscreen that allows the least amount of photons into the skin particularly if you suffered from skin cancer (or if there is a history of skin cancer in the family). Many dermatologists stick to the idea of a higher SPF because most people do not diligently or correctly apply sunscreen: stick to the 2mg/cm2 rule or reapply every 2 hours. This means that they will probably have half the amount of shielding than expected.

There is a downside to high SPF formulas as they do not tell us how much protection against UVA they provide unless they are labelled as broad spectrum. Moreover, customers tend to become overly confident when using a high SPF and forget to reapply as directed. The FDA has now capped the maximum SPF labelling to SPF 60+ so as to avoid misleading customers and generating false protection expectations[11]. There isn't really a huge protection difference between SPF 60+ and SPF 100. Plus, many companies take advantage of this claim to increase their sunscreen prices. The best advice that we can give you is to choose a mineral sunscreen with minimum SPF 30+ and reapply it religiously every 2 hours.

Myth #8: Certain Food Cause Acne

This is a follow-up of the chocolate-acne myth. Besides high glycemic index foods and dairy products, which we have already dealt with, there aren't any robust studies that can establish a relationship between other foods and acne. Plus, the medical community still does not accept the food intolerance and allergy tests as evidence of this premise. This does not imply that the answer to the can food cause acne question will always be a no. More research will certainly need to be done, but the most important aspect is to assess how your body responds to different foods. If you are under the impression that a specific food is causing you to break out, then remove it from your diet and reintroduce it 1-2 weeks later. Keep a diary and record what happens after you resume eating the “questionable food”. Our bodies are amazing machines and if something does not agree with them they will find a way of letting us know. Perhaps all you need is to allow your tummy to heal (repair the leaky gut for 3 to 6 months*) before you can eat all these wholesome foods again.

Myth #9: Toothpaste Can Treat Pimples

We believe that this myth has been going on ever since toothpaste was invented! We are completely clueless as to who had the not-so-brilliant idea to apply toothpaste on breakouts to get rid of them. The reason why this trick might work for some people is because toothpaste contains cleansing ingredients, so it could help dry out the breakout. As one would expect, the skin was also irritated and the microbiota (friendly flora) was harmed in the process.

This was even more noticeable when triclosan was part of practically all mainstream toothpaste formulas. Nowadays, most companies have phased out this ingredient because it has been shown to cause antibacterial resistance[12]. The reality is that toothpaste and pimples are not a good combo. Toothpaste was not intended to treat acne breakouts, and it should be repurposed having that goal in mind. There are tons of spot treatments in the market that were specifically formulated to target pimples, and you could also use natural remedies like apple cider vinegar, manuka honey, tree tea oil to effectively diminish them at home.

Myth #10: Organic Cosmetics Are Good For Every Skin Type

The term organic can be pretty confusing when it comes to organic cosmetic products as there are different certification bodies and their standards can vary somewhat between them. Overall, an organic cosmetic contains at least 95% of ingredients that come from organic agriculture. According to IFOAM[13]:

Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and good quality of life for all involved.

This means that no toxic fertilizers/pesticides, irradiation, and even genetically engineering technology were used to produce cosmetic raw materials. The fact that a cosmetic product is organic does not affect its performance, quite the opposite. Organic cosmetics usually contain more active ingredients, even the high-performance ones, little fillers, and no obnoxious chemicals so they can cater to all skin needs. The key here, as with any other formula in the market, is to choose the right product for your skin type. There is no war between organic cosmetics and state-of-the-art technology, but attention must be paid to all the elements of the production process in order to design formulas that deliver results without causing a negative impact on our health and that of the environment.

Now that we have delved deeper into each beauty myth and clearly explained why it should not be taken seriously, we would like to hear what you think. Share with us your favorite beauty myths and let us know if they are actually true or not on our Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and Pinterest pages.


[1] Ramshaw JA, Peng Y, Glattauer V, Werkmeister JA. Collagens as biomaterials. J. Mater. Sci. Mater. Med. 2009; 20 (1): S3–S8.

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30681787/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23949208/

[4]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835893/

[5]  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ics.12208

[6]  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9692305/

[7]  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2133.1972.tb01886.x

[8]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/

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