By Arden Edelcup
“Nothing ages worse than a beautiful woman’s ego” — Paulina Porizkova
I have an embarrassing confession. On more than one occasion, I have become mesmerized by 3 a.m. infomercials that tout the mystical skincare miracle that would banish forever the cellulite plaguing my tush or erase those angry marionette lines marching down my face. I stare blurry-eyed, yet transfixed, as the pretty ladies on TV secretly promise to transform me literally overnight into a bikini-clad ageless supermodel! My wonderful new friends also assure me that this seemingly impossible task will only require a miniscule amount of my time, nominal effort, and cost only pennies per day. Giddy with excitement, I peel out my credit card …
This promise comes in various deceptive packaging: a vibrating cellulite belt, an organic cream from the ancient Mugu Tribe in the Himalayan forests, and of course, the magic vitamin supplement that contains the fruit extract or miracle goji berry also discovered in some faraway rainforest.
Oh yes, even the most educated and seemingly rational among us becomes transfixed and seduced by these tantalizing promises.
Well, the Beauty Babe has awoken from this delusional dream and I am here to pull the covers off of these “Beauty Skincare Myths” that have clouded our rational minds and drained our wallets.
Beauty Delusion #1- “Skincare Creams Can Erase Wrinkles” – While I am a huge proponent of retinols/retinoids and human growth factors for creating new collagen and repairing damaged skin cells (age spots and wrinkles), I am literally baffled by the amount of money women spend just on the “mystical hype” (also known as “Beauty Bullshit”) that is not based on science or reality. I study innovative skincare research, and have been truly dazzled at the breakthroughs in the last decade. However, it is the ingredients and the potency of the ingredients that translate into “realistic” results. Let’s face it, somewhere deep inside, we all really know that fancy packaging, glamorous airbrushed celebrity spokeswomen, or the costly magazine advertisements are not going to magically “erase” wrinkles. Any sales clerk or website that makes those claims are attempting to magically peel money from your wallet.
This is what ALL skincare creams can do for you:
- “Hydrate” the skin (which immediately helps your skin look more youthful)
- “Protect” your skin from further damage if it contains a broad spectrum SPF
- “Increase” cell turnover, thus eliminating some damaged skin cells that cause wrinkles. These creams must contain a high percentage of retinol or prescription retinoid (Renova, Retin-A)
- “Stimulate” collagen if it contains human or plant growth factors or peptides that have been “scientifically & independently” tested. These can be more costly than over-the-counter products because of the research involved. These pharmaceutical grade products are usually sold through dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Skinmedica, Neocutis and Kinerase Pro are three of these product lines that are very impressive.
This is what that little jar of cream can NEVER do for you.
- “Erase” years off of your appearance. We age everywhere and that is just a hardcore fact. If you are 40, you will never look the “same age” as your daughter’s sorority sisters. You look good for 40.
- “Fix” your turkey neck. Creams can not significantly “tighten” loose skin. That is the job of a good plastic surgeon.
- “Undo” all the damage from teenage years spent baking in the sun slathered in baby oil. Those sun spots are the result of damaged skin cells that rear their ugly heads as we age and our skin becomes thinner. Retinol, Kojic Acid, and hydroquinone can temporarily fade their appearance, but if you stop using those creams, the spots will reappear — so vigilance is a must.
Beauty Delusion #2 –“Drinking Water Keeps Skin From Drying Out” – This one actually seems like it may be true because of its simplicity, but it is a total myth. It is the oil in your skin that keeps skin moist. Chugging jugs of water will only lead to more bathroom runs, not dewy, hydrated skin. You can only hydrate the skin from the outside. I suggest using a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid because that is an ingredient that attracts moisture and instantly adds a gleen to your skin. Also, face oils are being touted by skincare experts as being more hydrating than moisturizers. Despite their sticky texture, they actually absorb quickly. As the weather changes, adding more moisture to your skin will keep your skin hydrated.
Beauty Delusion #3 — You Can Get Rid of Cellulite
Timothy Flynn, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, tells it like it is: “Nothing can be done to permanently eliminate cellulite — not even liposuction. Cellulite consists of fat deposits that get trapped between the fibrous bands that connect the skin’s tissues. The bands squeeze the fat under the skin, resulting in a lumpy texture. Luck of the gene pool mostly determines who will and won’t get cellulite. It doesn’t matter whether you’re fat or thin.” You can, however, temporarily reduce its orange peel-like appearance. Firming creams often contain caffeine to tighten and smooth the skin. But a basic moisturizer will also work to hydrate and swell the skin, making cellulite a little less obvious. Or try using a self-tanner. A fake tan really does camouflage the cellulite and provides a smoother appearance. Try any of these alternatives but do not succumb to the myth that it can be gotten rid of on a permanent basis.
4. Beauty Delusion #4 — Applying cocoa butter or olive oil will remove stretch marks.
Stretch marks occur when skin expands quickly (as in pregnancy or weight gain), breaking the collagen and elastin fibers that normally support it. Or they’re simply luck of that random genetic lottery. Stretch marks are formed below the top layer of skin, where the cocoa butter and olive oil can’t reach. However, there are some things that have been proven to help those unwelcome thigh, hip and abdomen intruders. A study from the University of Michigan suggests that people who use Retin-A on new stretch marks saw huge improvements. Retin-A is thought to boost collagen production, helping skin stretch out and avoid tears. Also, Glycolic Acid used on stretch marks can increase collagen production, as making your skin more elastic overall. So even though stretch marks cannot be eradicated from your life, these products should help reduce their unsightly appearance.
5, Beauty Delusion #5 — You Will Outgrow Your Teenage Acne.
This is one of life’s cruel tricks on us girls. While we battle wrinkles, we are still plagued by those pesky pimples of our youth. Even if you had clear skin as a teenager, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get acne later in life, perhaps during menopause. You can blame this often-maddening inconsistency on hormones! What is true is that men can outgrow acne, because after puberty men’s hormone levels level out, while women’s hormone levels fluctuate throughout their lifetime, which is why many women experience breakouts around their menstrual cycle. Normally, those pimples are around the jaw line and neck. Some skincare companies have created an entire “new” skincare category for “wrinkly and zitty” skin. Dr. Murad’s “Acne & Wrinkle Reducer” is advertised to “alleviate adult acne yet support natural collagen for a more youthful look”. My advice is to look for ingredients (like the one by Dr. Murad) that contain salicylic acid. This is an oil soluble ingredient that treats the acne but is not as harsh as benzoyl peroxide which is found in many teenage acne products. (On the bright side, another debunked myth is that chocolate and greasy food causes acne. For those of you who painfully abstained from McDonald’s french fries during your acne-plagued teenager years, it is time to celebrate with a big fat Snickers bar. Better yet, show your repressed teenage rebellion by munching on that favorite chocolate bar while you purchase your Clearasil pads.
So Girls, I am hoping that these “Beauty Skincare Facts” will put you on the path to skincare enlightenment.
In this often confusing world filled with relentless streams of cosmetic information, knowledge IS power.
So allow me, your devoted beauty guru to do the heavy lifting and sort through all this beauty blather and provide you with proven scientific “facts”. Armed with this arsenal of information, you will never fall prey to those charming hucksters who greedily prey on those who cling to the delusional myth of a magical Fountain of Youth.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Arden Edelcup is a Mom of three “Indiana Hoosiers” and owner, with her hubby Earl Edelcup, of Ross’s in Highland Park, Illinois. Check out her website: www.rosscosmetic.com.