These days, everyone seems to be an expert on skincare, dictating what people should and should not use, what can and can’t be put on your face, etc. However, a lot of what may be known as “common knowledge” is actually false information. Due to this misinformation, we often end up using products/practices that are harmful for our skin and avoiding ones that could be beneficial. I’ve done some research and I’m here to combat some of these popular skincare myths.

Myth #1: Coconut oil solves everything

There is often talk about how this miracle oil can solve everything from dry hair to a bad break up. BUT, say it with me: coconut oil does not go on your face. Coconut oil is more of a wax than an oil and has comedogenic tendencies. Owner of the skincare brand SkinOwl, Annie Tevelin says coconut oil “sits on top of the skin, leading to clogged pores, breakouts and without proper absorption, causes extreme dryness”. If you want to use oils in your routine, choose better alternatives like argan or rosehip oil.

Myth #2: Hydrating and moisturizing are interchangeable

Dehydrated skin needs water, or hydration, and dry skin needs oil, or moisturizer.  While hydration makes your skin soft, the condition won’t last long if there’s no oil locking the water in. True Skincare Centre explains, “Dehydrated skin that is moisturized without receiving the amount of hydration will still look dull and feel uncomfortably tight.  Dry skin that is hydrated but not moisturized will still flake and have a rough texture.” Hydrating products usually contain water (duh) and/or hyaluronic acid. You can find all sorts of deep hydrating sheet masks to pamper yourself with weekly – your skin will be quenched in the best way possible.

Moisturizers contain oils. A lot of people, especially those with acne-prone skin, believe that oil-free moisturizers are the only option to avoid break outs but this isn’t true either. Your skin naturally produces oils when it doesn’t get enough moisture which actually makes your skin worse. If you cleanse your skin properly, a moisturizer should not break you out (again, as long as it’s not coconut oil!).

Myth #3: Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are your friends

These two products are universally known for combating acne and although they may be effective for some, they could do more damage than good on others. Salicylic acid kills bacteria and encourages exfoliation. This may sound great but it’s only a temporary fix and can be rough on normal to dry skin. In fact, according to Annmarie Skin Care, over time it can thin out and dry skin which can cause it to produce more oils. More oils means more acne means more salicylic acid – see the pattern? Of course, this doesn’t mean you should cut it out completely. If you have blackheads or bacterial break outs, use it. If you have hormonal break outs and sensitive skin prone to irritation, avoid.

Benzoyl peroxide has similar issues with dryness and irritation. The added consequence is your skin can become addicted so changing up your routine to remove it could mess your face up. However, the product is helpful for hormonal break outs but I recommend talking to a dermatologist before diving in. For both these products, sunscreen and heavy moisturizers are a must.

Myth #4: Plastic beads are the best exfoliators

Nope. The beads used in products like the infamous St. Ives apricot scrub are way too rough for your skin, especially your face. Physical exfoliators should always be used with caution because the friction can cause irritation. Hint: if your skin is bright red after exfoliating, it doesn’t mean the product is working – it means your skin is hurting. It’s better to stick with gentle natural ones like coffee or sea salt. An even better option is to switch to a chemical exfoliator like glycolic acid, which is more gentle and even help make your skin radiant.

Myth #5: Birth control is an easy fix

Women use birth control for a lot of reasons, the second most common one being to control hormonal break outs. The word Accutane has been going around whenever someone with perfect, glowing skin posts a selfie. Sorry everyone, but this pill is not as magical as it seems. I talked to my doctor about the process of going on the drug (after she told me it was so not worth it). She said you would have to try regular birth control first (Ortho Tri-Cyclen), which I’m sure you all know comes with its own side effects. Then Accutane is a last resort and you need to have routine tests, including blood tests, every month just to make sure your entire body was not completely messed up. Some people do think it’s worth the pain (and there is pain) so it’s up to you – and your doctor.

Myth #6: One product works the same for everyone

No two people have the same skin. We all have different textures and biochemistry due to being in different environments and inheriting different genes. There is no one true perfect product for everyone. The key is to research and go through trial and error. Remember, don’t compare yourself to others. These million dollar skincare companies are already making fortunes off our insecurities so turning on each other, and especially turning on ourselves, doesn’t help anyone. Better yourself, but embrace yourself.