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Skincare myths and misconceptions unravelled

Will you outgrow acne? Do you need SPF when it's not sunny? We ask skincare experts for their opinion on popular myths

Think you know most things about skincare? We ask Sara Cheeney, Director and Aesthetics Nurse Practitioner at Pure Perfection Clinic and Victoria Hiscock, Medical Communications Manager for AlumierMD, to unravel some of the most popular skincare myths and misconceptions.

You don't need sunscreen when it's not sunny outside or during winter

SC: If I had a pound for every time someone said this I think I’d have retired on the money! We need to wear sunscreen 365 days a year, to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays which penetrate through even when the sun isn’t out. We also need to protect the skin from HEV and IRA light, therefore a four factor protection SPF is recommended. Not only that, our skin needs to be protected from environmental threats that change the molecular balance and cause free radical damage in the skin. Wearing an SPF as well as using antioxidants such as vitamin C, will support the protection of the skin all year round.

People with dark skin tones don’t need to wear sunscreen 

VH: Historically, sunscreen focus has primarily been around the prevention of burning. The pigment in our skin acts as our natural ‘anti-sunburn technology’, which has led to confusion surrounding the necessity for the daily application of sunscreens for people with darker skin tones. As the body of scientific literature on sunscreens develops, skin and healthcare professionals have further insights into the cutaneous effects of UV radiation across all skin tones. UVA rays can cause damage to all skin that leads to visible ageing 365 days a year. For people with darker skin tones, this is more likely to manifest as uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation than lines and wrinkles, all of which can be significantly prevented with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Furthermore, while skin cancers are less likely in darker skin tones, they pose a higher risk due to late identification, diagnosis and treatment. Daily broad spectrum sunscreen really is a must, for people of all skin tones. Modern-day sunscreen formulas have undergone significant development to ensure their efficacy and cosmetic acceptability – little to no white cast, quick absorption and hydration are just some of the attributes now available.

People with sensitive skin should avoid exfoliating and retinol 

VH: Not using retinol because you have sensitive skin is like not going to a gym class because it makes your legs ache – you’re avoiding a short term discomfort but sacrificing a long term gain. In the long run, retinol can improve your skin health and fitness and reduce skin sensitivity; you just need to know how to navigate the beginning stages while your skin gets used to the activity. The most common recommendation by aesthetic practitioners is ‘start low and go slow’. One of the ways retinol works is to stimulate exfoliation. If you start with a high percentage of retinol or use it too often, you will over exfoliate and cause sensitivity – even in resilient skin. So starting with a low dose, say 0.25 per cent, and only using it one or two times a week will allow your skin to get used to the activity. As your skin’s resilience increases, you can work up to using it every night and eventually step up to 0.5 per cent. At this stage you will notice improvements in skin tone and texture, as well as the appearance of lines, wrinkles, pore size and hyperpigmentation.

Men need different skincare

SC: This is not true. Skin diseases such as acne occur in both men and women. Both genders should take good care of their skin, and skin programmes will be the same for men or women suffering from skin diseases and disorders.

One product will do it all

VH: While multi-functioning skincare is available, sadly, there are many reasons you can’t have one product (like a micellar water) that does it all.  Certain ingredients don’t play very nicely together, some ingredients you will only want to use in the morning or evening, and lots of products have different functions so they couldn’t do it all. A cleanser, for example, is used to remove makeup and impurities so needs to be rinsed off, this is no good for ingredients that you want to penetrate into the skin.The most effective morning routine would include a cleanser that doesn’t over strip the skin, an active vitamin C serum such as EverActive C&ETM + Peptide and a broad spectrum SPF40 like Clearshield, both by AlumierMD. In the evening, the cleanser would be followed by an effective exfoliator, a retinol and a serum or active moisturiser to target any present skin condition. The ideal skincare routine would contain anything from four products upwards and the investment would be so worth it.

You’ll eventually outgrow acne 

VH: When those hormones settle, for many it means the end of breakouts too. But there are many reasons our skin can become congested in older age – so the idea that you will ALWAYS grow out of acne isn’t true. For people with a menstrual cycle, these hormones continue to surge every four weeks causing the dreaded 'time of the month' volcano. Our hormones can also be interrupted due to medication, the contraceptive pill and even through lifting weights. Furthermore, it’s not just hormones that dictate our predisposition to breakouts; it can be a genetic trait passed from generations. Aside from over production of oil, a build-up of dead skin can lead to trapped sebum and pimples too. The general advice for acne sufferers, young and not so young, is to exfoliate regularly with something gentle yet effective and target oil build up with salicylic acid, found in AlumierMD Acne Balancing Serum.

Most people are allergic to retinol because it makes their skin dry and itchy 

SC: Retinol can cause retinoid dermatitis – this is a normal skin response. Retinol stimulates the skin to increase cell turnover and in the process causes redness and dryness in skin that is not healthy and not functioning to optimum level. In the transition over from conventional moisturisers, the skin will get worse before it gets better – it will settle and improve after 4-6 weeks when the skin starts to function properly; the results just get better and better but the key is consistency and perseverance. Tip: if you're struggling with dryness, use ZO Hydrating Crème to help you through the transition. Retinol is one of my favourite skin ingredients and gives the best results, keeping you looking fresh and young forever.

Sara Cheeney, Aesthetic Nurse

I sit at the head of the Pure Perfection family, drawing upon over 10 years’ experience in the aesthetics industry....

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