Do NOT pop that spot…let's debunk some of the biggest skincare myths

IN every job there’s folklore – myths that do the rounds, generation after generation. Skincare is no different.

In recent weeks, I’ve been continually asked the same questions: Is natural skincare better? Is it ever OK to squeeze a spot?

While I know these questions won’t be put to bed with one column, I want to take this opportunity to debunk some of the biggest myths I’m asked about all the time.

MYTH: You should squeeze your spots

No matter what people might want to hear, the answer to this is no. Squeezing spots and blackheads only causes more trauma and inflammation, which usually makes the spot worse.

At best, it can lead to post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation – flat, pigmented acne scars. At worst, it can cause depressed ice-pick scars or keloid scarring.

It also increases risk of other infections, from bacteria on the hands, and pushes the contents of the spot back into the surrounding skin.

Squeezing spots and blackheads only causes more trauma and inflammation.

Instead, I recommend using a medicated spot-treatment gel, or an antimicrobial solution, when you feel like popping a spot. Hydrocolloid patches are also great to cover spots with, so you can leave them alone.

For blackheads, try products containing salicylic acid or seek professional advice from a skin expert.

If you are still going to squeeze, make sure your hands are sanitized, and do not force it if nothing comes out.

MYTH: Face wipes will take make-up off

Does leaving make-up on give you spots? This one’s a big, fat yes.

Make-up sits on top of the skin, and dirt, microbes, pollution and sweat stick to it. It clogs your pores and contributes to acne.

What’s more, if you don’t clean your make-up brushes regularly, they will harbour bacteria and only make the problem worse.

Double-cleansing at night is absolutely essential to properly remove make-up.

The first cleanse can be with micellar water or a basic, inexpensive face wash.

It’s also worth remembering face wipes don’t clean the skin properly – they just spread the make-up and gunk of the day around on the skin’s surface.

MYTH: Eye creams are key

Should we all be using an eye cream? Absolutely not. Most of them are just gimmicky and won’t correct wrinkles, dark circles or puffiness.

I will prescribe eye creams only in specific cases, for specific concerns.

My best advice is to take your antioxidant serum and SPF all the way up to the eye area, to repair and prevent any damage.

Also use a light moisturiser around this area to keep it hydrated – this is the main benefit of eye creams.

MYTH: Natural is best

Despite what you might think, natural or botanical skincare products are not always better for your skin.

They generally tend to be more irritating. People often go for “natural” oils, thinking they will be kinder to their skin. What isn’t considered, though, is that natural, fragrant oils can also cause irritation.

There’s also very little regulation of what actually constitutes a natural product in the UK – so it may not be as natural as you think.

Natural or botanical skincare products are not always better for your skin.

There’s also the issue that natural products don’t include preservatives, which means they can go off and be a source of infection, causing irritation and breakouts.

Some natural ingredients are great for the skin – for example aloe vera, turmeric and willow bark.

I often recommend medical-grade products, which combine botanicals and proven ingredients to deliver the best results for the skin.

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