Can we talk about anti-aging myths for a second? I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of false promises and bogus claims blown up of all proportions:
🤥 “Better than Botox!”
🤥 “Exercise those facial muscles, like you would your abs!”.
🤥 “Moisturize daily and you’ll look 10 years younger”.
That’s just some of the nonsense we have to put up with every day. From magazines. From TV. From our friends. Once a myth is whispered a couple of times, it takes on a life of its own and spreads like wildfire. You start believing them. You try them. You’re disappointed. Your skin suffers from it. Sometimes, your wallet gets hurt, too.
That’s the problem with anti-aging myths. They get in the way of great skin. If you want to look gorgeous forever, you need to find out the truth about some of the most common anti-aging myths, so that you don’t even waste time trying out stuff that has no hope of working. Let’s start with busting six common anti-aging myths, shall we?
- Anti-Aging Myth #1: Moisturizers Can Erase Wrinkles
- Anti-Aging Myth #2: High-End Skincare Products Work Better Than Drugstore Ones
- Anti-Aging Myth #3: You Need To Stick To Skincare Products Targeted To Your Age Group
- Anti-Aging Myth #4: You Can’t Have Acne And Wrinkles At The Same Time
- Anti-Aging Myth #5: Face Exercises Keep Wrinkles At Bay
- Anti-Aging Myth #6: Skincare Products Work As Well As Botox, Fillers And Cosmetic Procedures
Anti-Aging Myth #1: Moisturizers Can Erase Wrinkles
This myth is everywhere. Watch a TV advertisement. Pick a bottle of your fave serums. Talk to your Sephora SA. Everyone tells you the right cream can get rid of wrinkles. Well, sort of. If you pay close attention, they say “fight wrinkles” or “minimise the look/appearance” of wrinkles. It’s how brands lie without lying. Lying would get them in trouble with the law, but telling the truth (my moisturisers can’t get rid of your crow’s feet, sorry!) would result in lower sales. So they find a way to raise your hopes without outright lying to you.
Let me explain. If moisturisers could really erase wrinkles, we’d all be wrinkle-free. The truth is, nothing can get rid of wrinkles completely. Retinoids are the best wrinkle-fighters out there and using them regularly will help you prevent wrinkles and reduce the size and depths of those you already have. They work by boosting the production of skin-firming collagen, keeping your skin younger-looking for longer. But they’re not as effective as a facelift (there’s a reason why celebrities still go under the knife, know what I mean?). Retinoids take months, if not years (depending on form and concentration) to work their magic.
Most moisturisers out there don’t contain a drop of retinoids. Instead, they’re very basic moisturising concoctions. They only hydrate and plumps up skin, making fine lines and wrinkles look smaller. Or they use silicones to fill wrinkles in. That makes them look smaller too. But, guess what? These effects are only temporary. That’s why brands will tell you it reduces the “look/appearance” of wrinkles. They make them look smaller to the naked eye, but once the moisturising effect is over, the wrinkle is still there, as deep as before. So, it’s not a lie, but you also don’t get what they imply you get, know what I mean?
A moisturizer that can completely erase wrinkles from your face and make you look 10 years younger hasn’t been invented yet. *sighs*
- Bioderma Sensibio AR ($24.90): A no-frills cream that moisturises dry skin and soothes redness and irritations. Available at Boots and Revolve.
- CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($20.99): Suitable for all skin types, it uses humectants that hyaluronic acid and glycerin to attract water into your skin and ceramides to moisturise skin without adding more oil to it. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, and Ulta.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel ($29.00): A hydrating moisturizer loaded with antioxidants to prevent premature aging. Available at Paula’s Choice.
Related: How Anti-Aging Moisturisers REALLY Work
Anti-Aging Myth #2: High-End Skincare Products Work Better Than Drugstore Ones
Oh my, did The Ordinary change that! I totally see where this anti-aging myth is coming from. Back in the day, all you could find at the drugstore were alcohol-laden toners and moisturisers rich in mineral oils. Not exactly the most effective products out there… If you wanted to get access to the good anti-wrinkle stuff (think retinol and Vitamin C), you need to up your budget and make a trip to a dermatologist office or department store.
Then, The Ordinary came along, bringing us the best skincare actives at a fraction of the cost. It was only a matter of time before other brands would follow suit (how could they stay competitive otherwise?). Go to the drugstore today and you’ll find retinol and Vitamin C serums anywhere.
Mind you, that doesn’t mean they’re good. Just like not all expensive products are good. The truth is, how well a product works has nothing to do with price. It has all to do with its formula (and packaging). You have brands that care about your skin and put efforts in creating the best products to help you fight wrinkles, banish dryness, and say goodbye to acne and brands (at ALL price points) that cut corners everywhere so they could make a few extra bucks for themselves.
When skincare shopping (especially if the price is high), ask yourself, does this produc contain retinol or a powerful combination of antioxidants (such as Ferulic Acid + Vitamins C and E)? Is it packaged in an air-tight, opaque tube or bottle that won’t spoil the formula every time you use it? If so, it’s worth the splurge. But you could probably find a dupe at the drugstore. It may have a greasier texture or an unattractive packaging, but it’ll get the job done.
BEST DRUGSTORE PRODUCTS
- CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($20.99): It uses humectants that hyaluronic acid and glycerin to attract water into your skin and ceramides to moisturise skin without adding more oil to it. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, and Ulta.
- The Inkey List Retinol (£9.99): A no-frills, hydrating retinol serum that smoothes out skin and fights wrinkles. Available at Cult Beauty and Sephora.
- The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (£5.80): A simple, no-frills Salicylic Acid exfoliant to treat acne and remove blackheads. The texture isn’t the most pleasant to use, but it works. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Selfridges, Sephora, SpaceNK, The Ordinary and Ulta.
BEST HIGH-END PRODUCTS
- Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense (£210.00): If you want the best retinoid serum available off the counter, this is it. Retinaldehyde and Retinyl Retinoate fight wrinkles, boost collagen, and fade away dark spots while ceramides strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and keep your skin softer and hydrated for hours. Available at Adore Beauty and Medik8.
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00): One of the best Vitamin C serums on the market, it brightens skin, boosts collagen, and prevents wrinkles. It’s expensive, but it works better than 95% of Vitamin C serums out there. Available at Blue Mercury and Dermstore.
- SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 ($154.00): It contains an interesting mix of old and emergency skin-lighteners to fade away dark spots and discolourations. If you’ve already tried everything, and you’ve got a spare $154.00 lying around, this is worth a go. Available at Dermstore.
Related: What Outrageously Expensive Products Are REALLY Worth The Splurge?
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Anti-Aging Myth #3: You Need To Stick To Skincare Products Targeted To Your Age Group
First of all, what does that mean? Is retinol just for 50 years old? Are you not allowed to use a salicylic acid exfoliant at 30 just because the brand is marketing it to teenagers riddled with acne? Skin is skin. Acne is acne. Wrinkles are wrinkles. The ingredients that work to tackle any concerns work no matter what age you are, know what I mean?
On the contrary, sticking to products targeted at your age group instead of choosing serums and moisturisers that target your unique skin type and concerns may work against you. I never had acne, for example. If I had stuck only to products targeted to teens (at that time, they were all anti-acne!), can you imagine what would have happened? My skin would have become as dehydrated as the Sahara, and all for nothing!
The opposite is also true. A lot of products marketed to mature skin are super moisturising. It’s true most women experience dryness as they get older, BUT what if you’re the exception and you’re dealing with oily skin and acne? Rich moisturisers only make things worse. Figure out what your skin type and concerns are, and pick products that can fix them. If you’re battling acne at 50 and that spot treatment marketed at teens works, get it. Your skin will thank you.
Related: How To Determine Your Skin Type (+ Free Quiz!)
Anti-Aging Myth #4: You Can’t Have Acne And Wrinkles At The Same Time
I wish! You know what they say: bad things come in three. Ok, two this time, but you get my point. Acne doesn’t just pick on kids. And it’s not only mature women who get wrinkles. You may be middle-aged and thanking the universe for escaping acne as a teen and then get it as soon as you enter menopause (damn you, hormones!).
Or, you may be a 20-something-year-old dealing with acne who is grateful you won’t have wrinkles for a long time yet at least. But then you look in the mirror, see those tiny crows’ feet, and realise you shouldn’t have spent that much time in the sun without sunscreen. Anyone can have acne AND wrinkles at the same time. Even though it sucks big time.
The good news: the best anti-aging actives, like retinol and niacinamide, double up as acne fighters too. So you can have a very simple, minimalistic routine that addresses both concerns. Fun facts: retinoids were first created to fight acne – and then researchers noticed those who used them experienced a reduction in wrinkles. Get your retinol game on, ladies!
BEST RETINOL PRODUCTS
- Paula’s Choice Resist Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum ($42.00): An anti-aging serum with 0.1% retinol. It also includes antioxidants, like Vitamin E, to prevent premature aging, and soothing ingredients to reduce irritations. Available at Paula’s Choice and Sephora.
- Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Night Cream ($62.00): This cream contains only 0.3% retinol but it packs an anti-aging punch. It comes in a moisturising base, but you need to use a separate moisturiser to counteract the dryness of retinol. Available at Dermstore and Skinceuticals.
- Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00): This high-strength 1% retinol booster has a moisturising base and plenty of skin-soothers to counteract the irritating effects of retinol. Use it on its own for maximum effect or dilute it with moisturiser if it’s too harsh for you. Available at Cult Beauty, Net-A-Porter, Paula’s Choice and SpaceNK.
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65.00): A micro encapsulated 1.5% retinol serum in an oily, moisturising base to fight wrinkles and fade away dark spots. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Peter Thomas Roth.
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Acne AND Aging Skin
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Anti-Aging Myth #5: Face Exercises Keep Wrinkles At Bay
Ok, this one is controversial. There are many people who do facial exercises and swear it’s the reason they are basically wrinkle-free at 50. Here’s the logic. Exercise tones the muscles. So, if we exercise facial muscles, they won’t sag. There’s only one problem with this. Lack of muscle tone is NOT what causes wrinkles.
You know what does? Sun exposure, smoking, repetition of facial movements. They all break down collagen and elastin. And they already decrease on their own as we age. If collagen breaks down, then simply moving your face around alone won’t be able to stop aging. It may help a little (although I still have to see scientific studies proving they do anything), but they can’t single-handedly fight wrinkles. You can exercise your facial muscles all day long, they won’t rebuilt the collagen and elastin you lost, know what I’m saying?
According to skincare experts, Paula Begoun, facial exercises can actually make you age faster: “If you move your skin, you’re stretching out the elastin fibres, and these fibres are the rubber bands that allow it to bounce back. What happens to an elastic band when you pull it? It stretches out and then eventually it breaks. This is exactly what happens with your skin. It looses the ability to bounce back, and starts sagging.”
Related: Do Facial Exercises Work? Here’s What The Science Says
Anti-Aging Myth #6: Skincare Products Work As Well As Botox, Fillers And Cosmetic Procedures
This is one of those anti-aging myths that really drive me insane. Do brands really think we buy this? And yet, the mind won’t die and it’s been shared in all kinds of magazines and marketing materials! I see why it’s so persistent. I hate needles, and if there were a cream that worked as well as Botox, I’d be the first to buy it. But there isn’t. And, trust me, we’d know if there were. Just think of the millions of dollars we women invest in dermal fillers, Botox, and other cosmetic procedures.
If someone invented something that worked as well as them but without the needles, they’d become billionaires overnight. We’d all rush out to buy them in droves. Unfortunately, even the best retinoids don’t give you results like that.
Or Argireline. It’s a peptide called “Botox in a jar” because it mimics Botox. It’s said to relax facial muscles, so they can’t move. There’s proof that it kind of works – by this I mean that, if you have very think skin, it does something. For most people, it does NOTHING. Even if you’re one of those people who gets some results from it, they’re nowhere near comparable to what Botox does. No skincare product can paralyse your face and keeps your muscles from moving. And, frankly, I’m heaving a sigh of relief for that…
Brands are investing millions in skincare research every year so one day, we may have something that works as well as Botox for cosmetic fillers. But that day is still very far away. Even when we get there, anything that has such a profound effect on wrinkles will be considered a drug, not a cosmetic, so will have to be strictly regulated to make sure you’re not getting severe side effects. Stop wasting money on Botox alternatives and use a trusted retinoid serum instead.
Related: Does Argireline Live Up To Its Reputation As “Botox In A Jar”?
The Bottom Line
These are the most common anti-aging myths that promise you to take a few years off your face. But if you follow them, you may end up aging faster! Remember: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is!