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Getting the Facts Straight

By: Mark Lees, PhD
Posted: December 31, 2009, from the January 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Editor’s note: This article is based on “Real vs. Rumor: The Truths and Myths of Skin Care,” the author’s presentation at Face & Body® 2009 Spa and Healthy Aging Conference and Expo in San Jose, California.

The skin care industry has always been plagued with rumors and myths. In order to dispel some of these many fallacies, a special class was designed to help clear up frequent misconceptions, as well as discover how many estheticians knew the truth about these common understandings—or misunderstandings, as it may be.

At the Face & Body® 2009 Spa & Healthy Aging Conference and Expo in San Jose, California, 68 estheticians were presented with a questionnaire listing 12 commonly held beliefs about skin care and were then asked to identify these statements as true or false. The purpose of this survey was to determine whether the estheticians attending this educational session actually knew the correct information. The results of the survey follow, along with an explanation of the correct answers.

True or false? Mineral oil causes clogged pores.

31% answered true; 69% answered false

This is a very common erroneous belief among both estheticians and consumers. The simple truth is pharmaceutical-grade or cosmetic mineral oil is noncomedogenic. In many studies, mineral oil has been shown not to form comedones, and in one study, it has been shown to actually decrease inflammation in acne patients. However, the fact that mineral oil has an oily texture may be objectionable to those with already oily skin.

True or false? Breakouts after facials are an indication that the skin is purging itself of toxins.

49% answered true; 51% answered false

Breakouts and pimples that seem to surge after a facial are inflammatory or irritant reactions to the methods or products used in the treatment. The skin has no physiological mechanism to purge itself of toxins. Inflammation occurs within the follicle during the facial treatment and causes swelling of the follicle walls, which impairs oxygen from reaching the bottom of the follicle. Acne bacteria are anaerobic, and thrive in an environment void of oxygen.

To avoid breakouts after facial treatments, use correct extraction techniques and properly soften areas to be extracted with a good desincrustant product. Also, use a soothing serum after extractions, avoid highly fragranced products and excessive massage or excessive extractions, and eschew any overdrying masks that could cause irritation.

True or false? Eating greasy foods will not flare acne.