There’s so much beauty advice around right now, but once you’ve waded through and discovered that much of it is often down to personal opinion, experience and preference, where do you go to get to the bottom of some of those tricky beauty myths?
8 Beauty Myths
Charisse Kenion spoke to London Aesthetician Dija Ayodele, of the newly-opened West Room Aesthetics, and founder of the award-winning Black Skin Directory, to get the fully brewed tea on beauty myths.
Beauty Myth 1: A while back I heard a well-known facialist and brand founder tell a crowd of black and brown women that we don’t need SPF. Is this true?
Dija Ayodele: There are always going to be people who believe they don’t need SPF. I think for a lot of the black community, they think that the biggest reason for wearing SPF is to combat skin cancer, and yes, black people do have a level of in-built natural protection from their melanin. But black people do get skin cancer; sun-related skin cancer and non-sun-related skin cancer. Another reason why we wear SPF is to protect from the aging aspects of the sun. Whilst UVB is predominantly responsible for burning your skin and therefore instigating that cell mutation, UVA rays will age your skin. If hyperpigmentation is a concern, you should be wearing SPF. If you’re worried about fine lines and wrinkles, then you should be wearing SPF. If you’re worried about the depletion of collagen in your skin, you should be wearing SPF. If you’re concerned about your skin appearing youthful, SPF should be a major part of your routine. It’s not just about skin cancer.
Beauty Myth 2: Pores open and close.
DA: I love talking about pores. I always describe pores as being like a balloon; they can constrict – get smaller – and dilate. The oilier your skin is, the bigger the balloon (the pore) gets, therefore the more visible your pores are. They expand based on how much oil your skin is carrying. This is why, when you use a clay mask, it can feel quite drawing – it constricts – because the oil is being removed. The more you fit in that balloon, the more visible the pores will be, which is why people refer to pores being open. When you decongest the pores, i.e. by using a cleanser with Salicylic Acid, it helps you decongest all that oil, so they constrict, because they’re no longer holding onto anything. Pores aren’t doors – they don’t open and shut!
Beauty Myth 3: Over time our skincare can become less effective, therefore we should bring products in and out of rotation.
DA: My philosophy is, if you come in and see me for something that you need help with at that particular point, we should eventually solve that issue with the right products. This would mean we could then move onto something else. Ideally, we would step you up and step you down when it comes to certain ingredients. For example, if you were on an 8% Glycolic face cream and we’ve addressed a primary issue and now want to intensify the effects, we could step you up to 10%. Should you phase products out? Only for something better. Skin cells can be ‘fully-charged’ and working at their best with the right regime – if you stop using those products, over time the skin function will deplete. If you’re done with that stage of your treatment, then it’s time to try something else. Or, if you’re reacting to something, then you just stop. But I don’t think you need to phase products in and out if they’re working.
Beauty Myth 4: Bakuchiol; a solid alternative to Retinol or nah?
DA: I wouldn’t say it’s better, but there is positive scientific evidence, especially for people who want a plant-based substance. However, it’s never going to give you the results that Vitamin A (Retinol) will. Vitamin A is the gold standard ingredient for things like acne, stimulating collagen, skin rejuvenation. Bakuchiol performs like Vitamin A but it’s not better than Vitamin A. The reason why we’re told not to use Retinol on pregnant women is that no-one does clinical trials on pregnant women, so that’s where using Bakuchiol can be a good alternative.
Beauty Myth 5: Speaking of Retinol, does it cause skin thinning?
DA: No, the function of Retinol is to plump up collagen and elastin in your skin and encourage rejuvenation of the living tissue of the skin, which is made up of collagen and hyaluronic acid. It will help to exfoliate the stratum corneum, which is the very, very top layer of the skin; so yes, that will look thinner, if you’re looking through histology slides (that show the microscopic structure of skin tissue), but there’s nothing wrong with that looking thinner. You don’t want it to be rough; you want it to be smooth and have that radiance.
Beauty Myth 6: Derms and Aestheticians are expensive, right?
DA: It’s all relative. If you have a real issue that you want to get addressed that’s bothering you and getting you down, you wouldn’t think it’s expensive. You’re paying for someone’s experience, their skill, their time. We have to undergo continuous training. That’s why I love this industry; there are always new treatments and inventions that you have to keep up with. If you go to your GP, first of all, they’ll try and give you antibiotics, and then, if you complain, they’ll refer you to a dermatologist and that will take three or four months. So I think it’s relative.
Beauty Myth 7: Physical exfoliants do a better job of getting rid of dead skin.
DA: Where do I start?! There is that contingent of people who love St Ives Apricot Scrub, and it’s because they don’t know anything else. I think there’s something within the black community (I don’t know if it’s the same in caucasian culture), where a product has to hurt to show it’s working. For example, if you go and get your hair relaxed, your scalp has to burn and you’ll soldier through that pain! There’s something within our community where you have to see action with your products. It’s not St Ives itself that’s the problem – it’s the fact that we are heavy-handed and we see that it’s got grains in it so we’re like, let’s scrub and rub. What that does is cause micro-tears in your skin – classic inflammation, so you’ll end up with dark marks. When your skin is inflamed you get post-inflammatory pigmentation, which is why you get those dark marks. Go for it on knees, elbows, and heels, but on your face – when there’s so much choice out there – you shouldn’t need St Ives in your life, or any other scrub that contains grains or particles – they end up all over your clothes anyway!
Beauty Myth 8: When it comes to more invasive stuff like Botox and fillers, it’s better to start sooner rather than later.
DA: I think it’s best to look after your skin in the first place. There are lots of things you can do product-wise. I think we’re finding more and more people are having more invasive things quite early, and I think that’s the reality TV effect, i.e. the Kardashians. People are going for that very sculpted look; I don’t think they’re doing Botox etc necessarily for skin health – it’s more like they’re going for a completely different look. I don’t think you should wait until you’re in your fifties – I think you should wait until you need them.
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