UPDATE: This post was originally published on May 17.
If there’s one thing I’m always asked, it’s to weigh in on certain topics to support or debunk claims. There’s a lot of advice out there (some great, some not-so-much), so I’m happy to set the record straight! In this week’s post, I'm chiming in on some of the most commonly-found myths, and welcome you to Tweet me @annetking with your own questions!
Don’t Keep Your Skin Products In Your Bathroom, They’ll Lose Their Efficacy
Most globally-distributed products are put through 90 days of stability testing, and are formulated to withstand extreme cold and heat. This is to simulate the extreme range that they could be exposed to during shipping. Therefore, they should be fine in your bathroom. However, if you leave them open, or use products packaged in tubs or open-mouthed jars that require fingers or spatulas to get product out, you are exposing your product to a bunch of bacteria. It goes without saying there are a lot of microbes in your bathroom (including the lovely fecal kind), so a couple of steps to take would be: Buy products that are in tubes and pumps, that only deliver what you need. With all product, put lids and caps back on (and tighten), and store away from direct sunlight and water. Water and gel-based products tend to turn more quickly, as bacteria thrive in this environment. Bacteria love wet surfaces, and humidity really gets them going. Efficacy, or actives, in a product will be diminished if the product becomes contaminated, or if your bathroom has steam room, or sauna-like conditions for long periods daily.
I Have Dark Skin, So I Don't Need To Wear A Sunscreen
Those of us with darker skin tones and originating from Asian, Hispanic, and African descent (i.e. Fitzpatrick IV-VI in skin therapist and dermatologist speak) may tan easily and rarely burn, but we are still at risk of photo aging and skin cancer. Very dark, black skin has a natural SPF of about 13-16, and filters twice as much UV radiation as white skin, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to sun damage. Darker-skinned individuals often have the perception that they have natural, complete sun protection and don’t “need to wear sunscreen,” probably because they rarely burn. But, skin is skin, and always should be protected.
Individuals with richly pigmented skin also need to check for skin cancer. Check between fingers and toes for any sign of melanoma, especially if you bask in the sun or did so in the past.
Good Genes = Good Skin
Grandma and mom look amazing for their age, so you’ll age the same way, right? Even though genetics play a part in the aging process, external and lifestyle factors like stress, sun, smoking, pollution, and diet affect your skin’s overall appearance. Sorry — good genes aren’t a free pass to flawless skin. You still need to be healthy, and take good care of your skin.
You Should Start Using Eye Cream In Your 20s
The eyes show the first signs of aging. That’s because this area is where the skin is thinnest on the body, the most fragile, and with the fewest amount of oil glands (except our hands, which have equally thin skin and zero oil glands!). Add to the equation potentially irritating eye makeup ingredients, and mechanical actions like makeup removal, normal rubbing, squinting, and blinking — not to mention daily UV assault — and you can see why the delicate skin around the eye orbit can start to look tired and weary, even when the rest of the face is plump and taut.
Look for an eye product with titanium dioxide for a chemical-free SPF, algae, and sodium PCA to hydrate, and lactic acid to smooth lines. You can move onto power ingredients like peptides and retinol in your 30s, but make sure you always apply with your ring finger (it’s got the lightest touch compared with the muscular power of other fingers), and circle around your eye toward the bridge of your nose. In terms of amount, use a about a rice grain’s size. Don’t overload the eye with product and avoid the lashes, since you don’t want products getting into the mucous membranes of the eye.
My Foundation Has SPF, So I'm Protected
The small quantity of sun protection in a foundation is not enough to protect from UVA and UVB damage. You should be using a about a tsp of sunscreen on your face and neck to get the protection that’s listed on the tube. Also, if in direct daylight for the day (especially in high-exposure situations like beach, snow, and even pavement, which reflects intense solar energy!) you need to reapply every two hours. This is the biggest mistake people make, and why they might burn. Also, layering a moisturizer that has SPF 15 with a makeup that’s a SPF 30 doesn’t give you SPF 45; the amount applied is more likely to be at a SPF20.
Also, remember: Even if you are inside and only walk from your car to the office, you still need daily protection. Even florescent lights emit UV and the majority of UV damage is experienced through your car window driving to work every day.