We’ve all been there, done that: Fallen victim to believing a skincare myth that made us think we could get away with something because it was lazier easier. No one wins in this game and when summer rolls around, the stakes are even higher. From SPF and acne myths to the truth behind retinoid use, we’re here to clear up some confusing rumors so you can hit the beach informed, confident, and most importantly – sunburn free.
MYTH: The higher the SPF number, the better
FACT: “SPF 15 blocks around 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks around 97%,” explains Christina DeMartino, board-certified physician’s assistant at PFRANKMD MedSpa. “The increase in protection (SPF 50, 75, 100 etc.) is negligible for any number above 30.” She also suggests looking for a sunscreen that’s “broad spectrum” since SPF only measures protection against UVB rays and not UVA rays. Check out our guide to choosing the best sunscreen here.
MYTH: Coconut oil is the best all-natural moisturizer
FACT: Nope, Argan oil is better. “Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so it’s not great for acne-prone skin because it is highly comedogenic, meaning it clogs pores,” says DeMartino. “There are plenty of all-natural oils that are better for the skin and won’t clog or cause breakouts, like Argan oil. Since it’s plant-based, it’s great for sensitive and acne-prone skin.”
MYTH: Misting with water keeps you hydrated
FACT: This actually causes more dehydration. “As the mist evaporates, it pulls your surface moisture with it and your skin ends up with surface dehydration, which leads to clogged pores and then you’re unable to blend your makeup,” says celebrity makeup artist Matin. “So if you like to mist your face, make sure to use mists that have humectants and actually keep the moisture in, instead of pulling it out.” Matin favors Emma Hardie Plump & Glow Hydrating Facial Mist, $55, in lieu of water. Check out our fave facial mists here.
MYTH: Coffee scrubs are fine to use on your face in the summer
FACT: “Coffee is an abrasive agent, so it’s recommended to only use this product as a body scrub,” says Noemi Zuñiga, spa director at Hacienda AltaGraica, Auberge Resorts Collection. “It has a very important effect on the level of metabolism as it stimulates blood circulation and also aesthetically helps to improve and fight cellulite. To make a coffee scrub at home, simply mix together ground coffee, poppy seeds, brown sugar, and almond, sunflower or coconut oil, then apply directly to the skin and exfoliate with circular movements, from 3 to 5 minutes per area.”
MYTH: You need to totally overhaul your skincare products and routine every time the seasons change
FACT: According to celeb esthetician Shani Darden, this isn’t necessarily the case. “If you’re using the right products for your skin type, you generally will not need to switch up your products too much although in the summer you may need to switch to a lighter moisturizer,” she explains. “My oil-free moisturizer is a great for normal to oily skin types since Sodium Hyaluronate and Glycerin hydrate the skin and attract moisture, while Squalane and Vitamin E soothe and improve elasticity.”
MYTH: Lips don’t get sunburned
FACT: Oh yes they do! “The lips are too commonly forgotten when we talk about SPF and the truth is lips can get sunburned and sun-damaged, and burns on the lips can contribute to the development of lip cancers,” says facial plastic surgeon Dr. Dara Liotta. Moral of the story? Slather on the SPF-containing lip products! Check out Supergoop’s SPF 30 Acai Fusion Lip Balm, $9.50.
MYTH: Skin is oilier in the summer, so you don’t need moisturizer
FACT: Moisturizers are still a must according to Dr. Liotta. “They not only discourage the build-up of dead skin cells by keeping the skin cells healthier, but if you toss your moisturizer altogether, your skin can get dry and dehydrated, and actually increase oil production in response,” she warns.
MYTH: Always use creams with sunblock in the morning
FACT: A huge no-no according to Matin. “This is one of the most useless things one can do since SPF disintegrates after a certain time, depending on its number and your skin.” The only way you can truly stay safe is by reapplying every 1-2 hours.” So, while we encourage applying every morning or before you leave the house, it’s also really important to top up through the day. Check out these SPF myths here to make sure you’re not caught out.
MYTH: People with oily skin shouldn’t use face oils
FACT: On the contrary, people with oily skin many times tend to over-strip their natural oil by using products with harsh ingredients. “Using face oils can help to replenish the skin’s natural oil production, keeping oil levels balanced,” explains Ann Balaguera, national director of esthetics at The Red Door. Check out our DIY face oil for oily skin here.
MYTH: You should remove the calluses on your feet more often in the summer
FACT: Calluses are there to protect your feet! “If you totally remove them, it can cause blistering and other problems you do not need, so calluses should be gently smoothed, not buffed bare,” says Adeline Sarino, national director of nail services at The Red Door.
MYTH: Sun exposure is a great way to treat acne
FACT: “Although it’s true that sun exposure can down-regulate the immune system in the skin and therefore temporarily improve inflammatory acne, this is not a safe way to treat breakouts,” warns celebrity dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “The side effects of aging of the skin and increasing your risk of skin cancer are much more serious, and sun exposure actually makes dark spots worse.” Instead of trying to clear up blemishes, Dr. King recommends practicing sun safety and sticking to acne-safe products like AcneFree Body Clearing Spray, $11, with salicylic acid and AcneFree Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment, $5, with benzoyl peroxide.
MYTH: You cannot use retinol or other retinoids during the summer because they cause sun sensitivity
FACT: You can still use them, as long as you’re smart about it. “Photosensitivity can occur when people first start using retinoids, so sun safety and protective measures are advised,” explains Dr. King. “After a few months of therapy, the skin’s response to UV radiation returns to normal and I think one reason people believe this myth is because they’re instructed to apply retinoids at bedtime, not during the day. This is because retinoids are often degraded by sunlight, which makes them less effective, not because they cause sun sensitivity.” Check out our guide to using retinol here.
MYTH: You don’t have to wear sunscreen on cloudy and overcast days
FACT: One more time for the people in the back: YOU STILL NEED SPF. “UV rays can penetrate through clouds and can cause sun damage and premature aging, so sun protective clothing is a good way to protect yourself without having to put on sunscreen on the covered areas,” says Dr. Hendi.
MYTH: Darker complexions do not need as much sun protection.
FACT: No matter what your skin color, you still need sun protection. “Damaging UV rays can penetrate all types of skin, regardless of your ethnicity, so even people with dark skin need sunscreen,” says Dr. Ali Hendi, skin cancer surgeon and co-founder of Luminora (a sun protective apparel company).
MYTH: Peeing on a jellyfish sting will make it better
FACT: Um raise your hand if you’ve ever believed this one because we sure have. Dr. King is here to clear it up. “Urine can actually aggravate the jellyfish’s stingers into releasing more venom, so wash the area with saltwater (not freshwater) to deactivate the nematocysts.”
Let us know if you guys learned something new in the comments below! That jellyfish myth was a huge curveball for us!!