Dispelling Old Wives’ Tales About Beauty Rituals
“Beauty is pain” is an age-old expression used to rationalize the great lengths women endure to uphold or bolster their appearance. Beliefs like this can come at a cost and send conflicting messages that make it difficult to navigate the realm of beauty.
Consider some of the old wives’ tales regarding beauty that have been passed down through generations, like: “If you pluck grey hairs, more will grow back,” or, “You can shrink your pores by splashing cold water on your face.” Combine those with the proclaimed “top tips” from magazines, and the overwhelming amount of cosmetic advertisements that continuously surface, and the beauty realm quickly turns into a game of Two Truths and a Lie — where a player tells two truths and one lie, and we’re left to determine which statement is, in fact, the false one.
So to help preserve your well-being (and sanity), we’re unraveling widespread beauty myths to help you find the best approaches to your beauty regimen and to know which ones to avoid.
Perpetual misconceptions about makeup
Makeup is a form of art that serves as an outlet for self-expression and creativity at any age. For many, the first experience with makeup can feel like a rite of passage or transition into womanhood. From this moment on, we are given endless pointers on the “shoulds” and “should nots” of choosing and applying makeup, which follow us throughout adulthood. But there comes the point where advice turns illusory.
Did you know that many believe women over a certain age should not use glittery or shimmery makeup like eyeshadow? Previous studies show a significant shift in makeup usage as a woman ages, noting that women start using less eyeshadow as they approach the age of 45, due to the belief that sparkles draw attention to fine lines and wrinkles.
However, shimmery shades can breathe life into the eyes of any age! The key to making your makeup look just as good at 40 as it did at 20 is using a moisturizer prior to applying makeup. Moisturizer hydrates the skin which smooths the appearance of fine lines. Not to mention moisturizers that contain SPF can protect against wrinkle-causing sun damage. Regardless, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your look and express yourself with colors and shades that represent your unique personality, no matter your age.
Influencer impact on beauty trends and myths
Much of our beauty inspiration and beloved products come from social media marketing by today’s top beauty influencers. It’s no surprise then, that Kylie Jenner, one of the most influential faces of the makeup industry, attributes her success of becoming the youngest self-made billionaire to her online presence and 175 million-plus followers. Unfortunately, social media can backfire, and in this instance, unintentionally spark a dangerous beauty trend that further supported the myth that lip plumpers work.
Seeing as Kylie Jenner’s claim to fame is undoubtedly her luscious lips, followers were quick to jump on the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge in pursuit of a perfect pout. The idea behind the challenge is to place a small cup over the lips while sucking out air in a vacuum effect to achieve fuller looking lips. But experts warn against DIY lip plumping. Not only does the KJLC pose a significant risk of swelling, bruising and scarring, but even glosses advertised as “lip plumpers” are also harmful as they contain ingredients that irritate the lips inducing temporarily swelling. “The only products that can plump your lips are injectable fillers containing hyaluronic acid, like Juvéderm’s Volbella,” according to world-renowned cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD.
Homemade hacks and natural remedies
Rumor has it that a dab of toothpaste on a pesky pimple will banish the blemish. While there is some method to this madness, it can actually do more harm than good. The idea behind this beauty myth? Certain ingredients in toothpaste have a drying effect which may decrease inflammation and appear to shrink the size of a pimple. However, toothpaste is more of a foe than friend to our skin. Toothpaste has a high probability of irritating the skin through burning or over-drying. Additionally, dry skin triggers oil production leading to further breakouts. If breakouts are becoming a burden, or you want to prevent pimples from forming in the first place, you’re better off seeking out a prescription acne treatment or medication. But the rumor mill doesn’t stop at our skin — it extends to our hair and nails too.
They say the only time a woman is helpless is when her nail polish is drying, and if one thing is for sure, it’s just that. There’s nothing more frustrating than ruining a perfectly polished pedicure or manicure. Amid the quest to minimize nail polish drying time stems the myth that ice-cold water will dry your nail polisher faster. But patience is a virtue, which is why you won’t find yourself soaking your nails in ice water at a salon. “Getting polish to dry requires evaporation of solvents, which can’t happen when your nails are submerged in water,” affirms nail expert Lauren B. of luxury polish brand Lauren B. Beauty. “Ice water may only harden the top layer of your polish, which will leave the underlying layers wet and prone to dents.”
Speaking of luxury... high-end products and beauty industry professionals provide greater peace of mind and a better bang for your buck than the majority of DIY remedies. Which is why hair stylists and experts have remarked on the hair hack that lemon juice is effective for lightening hair, which turns out to be a half-truth at best. Rachel Bodt, a senior colorist at Cutler/Redken salon, maintains “natural lightening really only works if you have fair hair with a fine texture to begin with.” Bodt goes on to explain that if you have dark brown or black hair, lemon juice and other DIY natural recipes won't lighten your hair. Even worse, the acidity of lemon juice can damage hair. So if you’re thinking of going blonde for the summer, or more importantly, for a big event like your wedding, hire a trusted stylist.
It’s hard to resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to beauty trends and tips. After all, we love shortcuts and anything else that appears to make our lives easier. But if we readily believe and rely on hearsay, we can wind up sabotaging our wellbeing by damaging our skin, hair, and nails. Above all, our health should be our number one priority, so stay informed before trying any beauty hacks by researching ingredients and talking with a medical or beauty industry professional.