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A young woman with curly hair applies skincare products to her face in a bright, sunny bathroom.

Let’s Clear Things Up: 10 Skin Care Myths to Leave Behind in Your 20s & 30s

With new skincare trends taking over your socials on what seems like a daily basis, can you tell fact from fiction? Below, get the unfiltered truth on 10 of the most common skin care myths you can bid farewell to in your 20s and 30s, and what to do instead for a clear, glowing complexion. 

Myth 1: It’s too early to use anti-aging products.

While for most, early signs of aging may not become visible on our skin until around our mid-30s, skin aging actually begins for the majority of people at about age 25, when collagen production and therefore skin elasticity begin to decrease. This makes your 20s the perfect time to start using anti-aging skincare products for prevention, and your 30s an ideal time to have your anti-aging skincare regimen in full swing. 

Try this: In addition to sun protection, a good place to begin is with a hydrating daily eye cream, a gentle cleanser with tone-evening niacinamide and nourishing aloe, and a skin-quenching, water-based moisturizer with hyaluronic acid to help draw in moisture and enhance skin’s elasticity. You can also look to your diet for anti-aging support, with dishes rich in omega-3 fatty acids like this quinoa bowl with salmon, or try adding skin, hair, and nail boosting collagen peptides into your favorite post-workout smoothie

Myth 2: Acne only affects teenagers.

While acne is most prevalent in adolescents and young adults (affecting around 85% of people aged 12-24), adult acne is both common and on the rise. Recent studies suggest that adult acne currently affects about 85% of women, and 15% of men. The idea that your acne should be gone by your age, that you should be embarrassed to still be dealing with a “teenage” skin issue, or that you’re somehow flawed for experiencing breakouts into your 20s, 30s, or beyond, is simply incorrect. 

Try this: Balancing the skin’s natural microbiome with skin-barrier strengthening, probiotic skincare products can help to protect your skin from both environmental hazards and harmful bacteria that may cause acne. Addressing the skin’s nutritional needs by eating a diet rich in vitamin A (think eggs and leafy greens), antioxidants (like broccoli, blueberries, and carrots), and zinc (chickpeas and lean proteins are good sources) can help to ensure your body can support healthy skin from the inside out. To make sure you’re getting exactly the right nutrients your skin needs to stay clear and healthy, in the right amounts, check out this easy nutraceutical, which has been clinically shown to clear skin from within.   

Myth 3: Chocolate causes breakouts. 

Chocoholics, rejoice. While the research isn’t completely conclusive on this one, which has kept the debate alive and well, studies that support this idea are referring to high percentage dark or 100% pure cocoa. The majority of research has found no clear link between consuming chocolate and subsequent acne breakouts. At best, evidence is limited. While everyone is different, and many things can trigger acne breakouts, from hormonal shifts to pore-clogging, oil-based makeup, it’s likely that the blemishes popping up within a couple days of snacking on your favorite truffles are simply a coincidence. 

Try this: Let yourself live a little. What we choose to put in our bodies does affect the health of our skin. But some studies suggest that cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate treats, may actually be the most antioxidant-rich food discovered to date. Antioxidants can help to protect our skin from environmental damage, prevent or slow signs of aging, and are found in many foods with nutrients needed to help keep skin clear and glowing, like vitamins A, C, E, and selenium. We’re not saying you should go ham on the chocolate from here on out, but chances are, indulging now and again won’t move the needle toward any additional breakouts.     

Myth 4: Harsh scrubs are the best way to cleanse your skin

If we scrub extra hard, we’ll get rid of all the dead skin cells that could clog our pores and cause breakouts, right? Nope! We’re sounding the buzzer extra loud on this one. While certain skincare campaigns might have some of us believing that the only way to really get our skin clean is by regularly exfoliating with gritty, harsh scrub cleansers, daily scrubbing like this can do far more harm than good. Abrasive cleansers can weaken the skin’s barrier by creating micro-tears, making skin more prone to damage, and can cause dryness, flaking, redness, and sensitivity. They can also cause collagen and elastin to break down, say dermatologists, and worsen conditions like acne and rosacea. 

Try this: According to Healthline, if your skin is dry or sensitive, be sure to choose a moisturizing, gentle exfoliating product with enzyme-based exfoliants or glycolic acid, and aim to exfoliate no more than twice per week. Those with acne prone skin should opt for gentle liquid exfoliants containing salicylic acid, and aim for between two and three exfoliating sessions per week. For those with combination skin, product selection can be a bit more flexible, but frequency should still fall around two to three times per week.  

Myth 5: Tanning naturally clears your complexion. 

Sadly, not the case; excessive exposure to UV rays can actually be an acne culprit. Studies have shown that serving your skin up to the sun can both trigger and worsen breakouts, causing irritation and sparking inflammation. 

Try this: After your skin-barrier strengthening cleanser and moisturizer, apply an oil-free sunscreen to protect your delicate facial skin, and opt for shade when you can. Plus, if you needed a sign to buy the sun hat you’ve been eyeing for your trip to the beach, this is it. 

Myth 6: You only need to wear sunscreen in the summer.

Au contraire. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), “You should apply sunscreen every day on skin not covered by clothing if you will be outside.” Even in the winter. “The sun emits harmful UV rays year-round. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate the clouds.” Plus, it’s believed the sun may be responsible for up to 80% of visible skin aging.

And, the sun’s rays aren’t the only light our skin needs shielding from. Unprotected exposure to blue light from electronic devices, like your smartphone, laptop, and even your TV screen, could speed up the signs of aging and even cause redness and dark spots.

Try this: Wear sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. This will help to protect you from harmful UV rays outside, and the potential damage of blue light exposure while you scroll TikTok before bed. The AADA recommends choosing a sunscreen that is broad spectrum (protects from both UVA and UVB rays), has an SPF of 30 or higher, and is water resistant. 

Myth 7: You shouldn't moisturize acne-prone skin.

The logic kind of makes sense on the surface: if your skin is oily, and oil can cause acne, then adding moisture to your skin could potentially cause or worsen breakouts, right? But this isn’t the case. While oil-based skincare products, including moisturizers, can certainly contribute to acne by clogging pores, water-based products will not. Actually, when we allow our skin to become dry and irritated by not giving it proper hydration, our skin can overcompensate by producing excess oil, which can then lead to clogged pores and more breakouts. Moisturizing is actually crucial to maintaining a clear, glowy complexion. 

Try this: Opt for water-based hydration. When selecting a moisturizer, check the ingredients label. The first ingredient listed should always be water. Apply moisturizer daily after cleansing. Research has shown that, while it may seem counterintuitive, adding moisturizing to your routine can actually help to improve signs and symptoms of acne

    Myth 8: Acne begins on the surface of the skin. 

    Acne appears on the surface of the skin, sure. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where it starts. While things like oil-based makeup (and harsh scrubs, of course) can contribute to the formation of breakouts on the surface of the skin, the roots of acne can also lie within, stemming from nutrient deficiencies, certain medications, the body’s stress response, hormones, and even genetics. 

    Try this: Start with foundational nutrition. In addition to eating a diet rich in the nutrients mentioned above, avoiding oil-based products, and tossing the scrubs, nourish skin by supporting your diet with a supplement formulated specifically to give your skin everything it needs to flourish. And if you’re taking prescription medications, consider checking in with your doctor to see if they could be causing problems for your complexion.

    Bonus: add this trending turmeric and ginger shot into your rotation for a fun, at-home way to nourish your acne-prone complexion from within.        

    Myth 9: Toothpaste is the best spot treatment for acne.

    This tall tale stems from a bacteria-fighting ingredient in many toothpastes called triclosan, the thought being that using toothpaste as a spot treatment on pimples and zits would help to fight acne causing bacteria. These days, most toothpastes no longer contain this ingredient, but they do contain many things that could actually make acne worse, causing symptoms like burning or rashes like contact dermatitis

    Try this: Opt  for a kinder, gentler, more effective spot treatment for pesky blemishes. Hydrocolloid patches are an excellent, low-profile way to soothe and diminish pimples and zits, working to create a protective environment and ease inflammation while drawing fluid and impurities from the skin.   

    Myth 10: Popping pimples is harmless.

    The temptation to squeeze can feel irresistible, and you may feel like an expert after watching three hundred Dr. Pimple Popper videos, but blemish extractions are truly best left to the pros. While popping may seem harmless, the DIY approach can cause scarring, spread bacteria, lead to infection, and worsen the appearance of breakouts. 

    Try this: According to the AADA, it’s best to schedule a visit to your dermatologist's office to prevent unnecessary scars and ensure that everything is done safely with sterile equipment. Plus, in some cases a simple squeeze won’t do the trick. For more severe acne, your derm may opt for a corticosteroid injection, and in all cases, can direct you toward the proper skincare routine for your unique needs. 

    While our 20s and 30s can be a confusing time where skin is concerned, consider it the era of prevention – for aging, breakouts, and skincare fake news alike. 

    We’d love to know, which myth piqued your interest the most? (And why was it the one about chocolate?)

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