Chances are if you grew up going to grandma’s house for the weekend, you heard some wacky beauty myths— along with some dating and relationship advice; grandma as always good for that. But products and beauty routines were quite different back in the day, which would explain why the thought of rubbing Preparation H under your eyes makes you shudder today.
For one, we didn’t know as much about how the skin reacted to certain ingredients as we do now. We also didn’t have the technology to develop the wonderful products you see today, nor did we understand that some of these myths were either too good to be true or straight-up impossible. You know, like plucking one gray hair out won’t magically produce two more hair follicles in its place to sprout three gray hairs where that one, lonely gray hair stood. But that myth was believed for decades and is, for some reason, still told today.
But not all of the beauty myths we grew up with are necessarily untrue; they’ve been tweaked a bit over the years, and now we understand why those myths came about. Let’s talk skincare myths and learn more about what is fact and what is absolute fiction— and most importantly, what you should never, ever do.
Toothpaste can treat a pimple
No, it most certainly cannot. In fact, the other ingredients in your toothpaste can exacerbate existing acne, irritate your skin, and spread bacteria around your face. There are technically ingredients in toothpaste that can soothe acne, but the other active and inactive ingredients will cancel out any benefits toothpaste on a zit can bring.
Stick with products that have been developed to specifically treat acne. It’s no longer the 1950s; we have made sufficient progress in acne care. The only place you should be using toothpaste is your teeth. Wild concept, right?
Hairspray can also be used to set your makeup
Just because something technically gets the job done, that doesn’t mean it’s the right tool to use. Will dumping a bucket of bleach all over your home disinfect it? Sure. But the consequences would be epic, and the smell alone would nearly kill you.
This little beauty hack is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it actually does keep your makeup in place. That said, hairspray is packed with chemicals and toxins that should never be sprayed directly into your precious pores. Hairspray on your face can cause irritation, clogged pores, and rashes. If your hairspray contains alcohol, it’ll dry your skin right out making you look dehydrated and older, which I’m pretty sure is never the goal you’re shooting for. Plus, it’s sticky and can tighten on your skin. Much like with the toothpaste hack, beauty has evolved way too much for you to be using a product meant for an entirely different job on your face.
Use setting powder or a setting spray specifically designed to set your makeup.
Only dry skin needs moisturizer
Moisturizer is your friend whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or acne-prone skin. Skipping moisturizer can cause your face to overcompensate and produce more oil. Skin needs ample hydration to maintain its ability to defend against harmful elements and free radicals. If you have acne-prone skin, you need a strong skin barrier to fight off bacteria and irritants that will make your acne worse.
Any trip to the drugstore or a department store will show you endless options for moisturizers. Each skin type has a moisturizer that’s right for it, so don’t skip this essential step in your skincare routine. Your face will thank you.
People with oily complexions should avoid all oil-based products
Well, don’t exactly run out and dump baby oil on your face, but don’t flat-out avoid any and all products containing oils either. Oil attracts oil, so if you use a good cleansing oil to wash your face, it’ll work to balance out oily skin. Many products developed for acne-prone skin can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading it to go into overdrive and produce additional sebum. Using the right oils can replenish your skin’s natural oils, balance oil levels, and keep breakouts at bay.
Oils help make the skin supple and pliable; they’re certainly not as evil as once believed. Oils are quickly absorbed and help to reinforce the skin barrier, making it stronger and less vulnerable. Just be sure to do your research on what oils are best for your skin type, as not all oils will be best suited for your skin’s specific needs.
Rubbing your eyes causes wrinkles
Rubbing your eyes is a natural reaction to fatigue, and anyone who suffers from allergies has probably tried to rub their eyes into a different dimension several times. But while rubbing your eyes doesn’t directly cause wrinkles, the act of pulling and tugging at the gentle skin in that area does. The pulling motion causes the thin skin around the eyes to wrinkle back and forth, which leads to the appearance of premature aging over time. Every now and then, it just can’t be helped. But try your best not to do it all the time.
If allergies are making your eyes itch like crazy, you can try eye drops designed to relieve that discomfort. For those who wear eyeliner every day, do your best not to pull at the skin while applying, as doing so daily can contribute to fine lines and wrinkles over time.
Shaving makes your hair grow back thicker, faster, and darker
This one is very easy to believe because it looks and feels true. The reality is that shaving doesn’t change hair’s thickness, color, or rate of growth.
When you shave, you slice off the end of the hair which creates a blunt tip. Hair is widest at the base of the shaft, right where you just shaved. During the grow-out period, the hair is more noticeable and only appears darker or thicker. It won’t, however, stay that way. If you let the hair grow out to its full length again, you’d see it go back to its normal state.
If that grow out period makes you uncomfortable or self-conscious, you can try alternative methods of hair removal.
Frequent hair trims will make your hair grow faster
Let’s use some common sense here, shall we? Hair grows at the root, and trimming the ends has no effect whatsoever on the root. The reason this has been believed for so long is due to the fact that trimmed hair is fresh and blunt, so that hair is thicker at the ends. When the hair grows, the ends taper and thin out, and any split ends will lead to uneven breaks. That breakage makes it feel like your hair is growing slower. If it’s constantly snapping off at the very ends, it won’t appear to be growing much at all.
The truth is your hair grows at exactly the same rate at about half an inch a month. Trimming your hair frequently is certainly going to make your ends a bit healthier and appear thicker as you’ll be getting rid of any split ends in the process.
Crossing your legs causes spider and varicose veins
This myth does make some sense when you think about it: crossing your legs cuts off or weakens circulation and leads to pressure in other areas. It can both seem and feel as though that pressure is causing those bulging or darkened veins.
But varicose veins are mostly genetic and have to do with an inherited weakness in the valves of the blood vessels. Those smaller spider veins are caused more by sun damage than anything else and are most prominent in people with fair skin.
If you already have varicose veins, sitting for long periods of time (crossed legs or not), can worsen the situation since the blood around those veins slows down. So while crossing your legs won’t directly cause varicose veins, it can make those veins more apparent.
To sum it up, while sweet, old grandma was wise about many things, beauty secrets might not have been her strong suit. The beauty industry has evolved so much over the decades, and it’s always best to follow the advice of dermatologists, estheticians, and skincare experts.
These are just a handful of the most popular old school beauty myths we’ve heard over the course of our lives, but we know there are plenty more out there. Do you have a beauty myth you don’t see on this list but swear by? Or do you have any myths you grew up hearing over and over again that are absolutely bogus? We want to hear them all! Tell us all the wild, wacky, and not-so-crazy myths you’ve tried over the years.