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8 Popular Beauty Myths—Finally Debunked

Does shaving make hair grow back thicker? Will toothpaste treat blemishes? It's time to put these old wives' tales to rest for good.


If you pluck a gray hair, two will grow back

This beauty myth is bogus. Plucking gray strands won’t magically cause you to sprout new follicles. That said, there’s no reason you should be plucking strands in the first place. Instead, James Corbett, color director of Clairol, recommends using Clairol Nice’n Easy Root Touch-Up to cover grays at the roots. Ready to go gray? Find out the 13 things that happen when you stop coloring your hair.


Oil causes breakouts

Yes and no. “While some oils can clog pores and cause blemishes, using the right non-comedogenic oils an actually deliver more beautiful, clear, hydrated skin,” explains Indie Lee, beauty expert and founder of a natural skincare line. It’s also important to note that stripping away too much natural oil can cause an imbalance that actually leads to breakouts. Your best bet? Opt for a non-comedogenic oil, like Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil. Find out the 10 healing facial oils your skin needs this winter.


Toothpaste shrinks pimples

This beauty myth is all wrong. While menthol (a key ingredient is most formulas) can cool and calm inflammation, the other ingredients in toothpaste are likely to irritate breakouts. You’re better off sticking with a topical treatment that has proven blemish-busting ingredients, such as salicylic acid or sulfur, or a natural remedy, like tea tree oil. Check out these surprising home remedies for acne.


Only dry skin needs moisturizer

Categorically false! Moisture is a requisite for a healthy complexion, no matter your skin type. Skipping moisturizer actually causes skin to overcompensate by overproducing sebum, or oil. The best way to balance an oily complexion is actually to moisturize. Opt for a lightweight, gel-based formula, like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel or Tatcha Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer, which will hydrate without leaving your face looking or feeling greasy. These are the beauty mistakes that could be drying out your skin.


A “base tan” will protect against sunburn

Here’s another beauty myth that is utter nonsense. There’s no such thing as a safe tan. In reality, a tan is a sign of UV damage. When your skin is exposed to UV rays, it responds by producing more melanin, which causes skin to look darker. A “base tan” provides the sun protection equivalent of SPF 3 (a white T-shirt gives you about an SPF 7). The only real way to protect against UV damage? Broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher. Try: Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, Colorescience Daily UV Protector SPF 30 Whipped Mineral Sunscreen, or COOLA Eco-Lux 8oz Body SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Spray. Don’t miss the 10 sunscreen myths that make dermatologists cringe.


Shaving makes your hair grow back thicker

Razors get a bad rap. But there’s no actual evidence to suggest that shaving effects hair growth or thickness—although it may feel that way. Here’s why: Hair is widest at the base of the shaft. Shaving cuts it straight across at the widest part. So when hair begins to grow back—the stubble, if you will—it feels coarse and thick compared to the softer, thinner ends you shaved off. Here’s how you could be shaving your legs all wrong.


Acne is only a teen issue

If only you could simply outgrow acne, it would give hope to teens everywhere. Alas, blemishes can plague you well into your 20s and beyond. Even if you’ve always had clear skin, your battle with breakouts could hit in your 30s. Seriously! Adult acne impacts 26 percent of women ages 31 to 40. Acne isn’t about age, but rather hormones (hence why many women experience breakouts around their period and during menopause) and genetics. Read up on adult acne, why it happens, and what you can do about it.


Crossing your legs gives you varicose veins

Contrary to popular belief, crossing your legs does not contribute to varicose veins. In fact, standing is more likely to be the culprit. Standing all day forces veins to work overtime, pumping blood from the legs to your heart, which causes a pooling of blood and results in dark, visible veins, especially if you have a genetic predisposition. If you’re prone to them, consider trying this traditional herbal remedy.

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay Cohn has a B.A. in Creative Writing & Communications from the University of Miami. Her work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Brides, Fodor's, Travel + Leisure, PureWow, USA Today, and more.

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