As you find more wrinkles and signs of your distress on your body, the panic inevitable sets in: you’re getting old. It seems that since the moment the human race discovered that they weren’t going to live forever, a whole host of anti-aging products and homemade remedies (your nana’s skin didn’t age a day past 40 because she ate ice cream every day!) began infiltrating every market. And, with so many products and tips promising to reverse or halt the signs of aging, how do you know which ones to actually believe?
Well, luckily for you, it’s not a tall order to cut through the noise and parse out which tips, in specific, don’t actually do the trick. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some of the most common snippets of advice that are, at the end of the day, bunk. Once you purge this so-called “wisdom” from your repertoire, you’ll be well on your way to ethereal, glowing skin—for years to come.
Water can plump up your skin.
According to dermatologist Fayne Frey, drinking water is essential to your health, but doesn’t actually provide extra moisture to fight the aging of your skin. In fact, there’s no substantial research that even shows that drinking more than your fair share of water will arm your skin with anti-aging benefits. (Just to be crystal clear, though: don’t take this to drink less water. Stick with the recommended eight glasses a day, which benefits everything from your organ health to your energy levels.)
The more expensive the product, the better it is.
That’s right—rather than purchasing an anti-aging product based on its price tag (which you’re sure must reflect the quality of the item), zero in on the ingredients that every product contains. To ensure that you’re grabbing the best product possible off the shelf, first read the concentration of key ingredients (a higher concentration is better) and manufacturer (make sure it’s a brand you recognize, or have at least read amazing reviews about) to make sure that it’s a quality investment.
Getting a blood facial will make your skin look younger.
The lesson learned from this myth: don’t believe in the anti-aging treatments that sound too good to be true. If you’re unfamiliar with this procedure, often called the “vampire facelift,” here’s how it works. Basically, a few tubes of your own blood are drawn, spun in a centrifuge until it separates into different components, and then the plasma from the blood is injected back into your face. While this procedure may be popular (celebrities like Kim Kardashian regularly boast about its benefits), according to plastic surgeon Patti Flint, there is no real evidence that shows that this invasive solution actually works at all.
“The bad news is that nothing is actually lifted, unlike the name of the procedure implies. Additionally, there is not a shred of medical evidence that proves that this procedure has any lasting effects. There are a few starlets that profess the wonders of these treatments, but no scientific studies that show any significant benefit,” she says.
Alternating shower temperatures will rejuvenate your skin.
While some may tout the benefits of using alternating temperatures in the shower, there is actually no evidence that backs up the benefits of this hot-to-cold-to-hot method.
A bird poop facial will brighten your skin.
Just a few years ago, the internet was buzzing about this new type of facial, containing feces from nightingales from the island of Kyushu, in Japan. Still, those seeking a cure for their aging skin turn to this, uh, interesting, alternative, despite there being little scientific evidence to prove that the feces contain any anti-aging properties. In fact, while many spas offering this treatment declare that it can help brighten and restore skin, most scientists have yet to prove this, and only notice the facial’s ability to make the skin appear glittery for a day after it is applied.
Cucumber slices will eliminate the bags under your eyes.
For most, a trip to the spa would almost be incomplete without the application of cucumbers on the eyelids. And, while cucumbers can alleviate swelling and redness around the eyes temporarily, the antioxidants that they contain will not work to actually eliminate those dark circles under your eyes, according to Dr. Gregory Nikolaidis, an Austin-based dermatologist. So, while this cherished spa luxury may be a great way to reduce swelling around the eyes, its magical powers are only short-term.
Facial exercises help fight wrinkling.
No, facial exercises do not prevent your skin from developing wrinkles. In fact, they often do more harm than good, with some dermatologists even stating that repeated facial contortions exacerbate existing wrinkles. As it turns out, there is no exercise that can prevent the collagen depletion in your face.
An oxygen facial will plump up your skin.
For this facial, participants are sprayed with a machine that contains a stream of pressurized oxygen, said to instantly hydrate the skin. While celebrities like Madonna once deemed this facial a miracle worker, many beauty experts and scientists are still skeptical about its long-term impacts on the aging process. As Dr. Christopher B. Zachary, a professor and dermatology department chairman at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine told the New York Times, there is little evidence that supports the positive effects of pressurized oxygen on the skin. “The concept that high-pressure oxygen would do anything to help the skin is such nonsense as to be laughable,” he said.
It’s best to use every product in an anti-aging skincare line.
While the “more is more” method may seem like the favorable approach when it comes to preserving your skin’s vibrancy as you age, it’s important to remember that these skin care products still contain ingredients that are liable to drain the precious moisture from your skin, no matter how natural the ingredients may be. Using more than two or three different products on your face will only dry out your skin, leaving you even more prone to age-related blemishes.
You should use retinol every day.
Since retinol is an incredibly powerful potent source of collagen-producing vitamin A for your skin, it’s best to only use it a couple of times a week in order to avoid drying out your skin, says Emmy Graber, MD, a dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at the Boston University School of Medicine. However, if you’re really looking to benefit from the effects of this cream, you can begin by applying only a pea-size amount to the skin, to reduce the possibility of redness and flaking skin.
You can make effective anti-aging treatments with items in your kitchen.
While household remedies seem to be more organic, and therefore, better for you, it turns out that many of them might contain allergens and ingredients that work against your skin. So, rather than spend the afternoon making a homemade concoction for your skin, just make a quick trip to the store to find all the ingredients in products that are already made and tested by professionals.
Aging is determined by your genes.
While yes, aging is determined by your genetics, the habits that you develop during your lifetime can also either shorten or extend your lifespan, as well as dictate your quality of life. For example, smoking, lack of exercise, and eating unhealthy foods will weaken the defenses in the body that are there to protect you from the diseases that prevent you from living a long, happy life.
Moisturizers prevent aging.
While many older women (my mother included) claim that a certain brand moisturizer helped their skin age more gracefully, Dr. Michelle Levy, a dermatologist based in Toronto, knows that this is a false idea. “Unfortunately, the notion that moisturizers on their own prevent wrinkles is a myth (these women were likely genetically blessed). Unless your moisturizer contains sunscreen or other active ingredients that are known to mitigate skin aging, it alone will not prevent wrinkle,” she said. Bottom line: your moisturizer alone does not contain any properties that will prevent the aging of your skin.
Limiting the amount you smile will prevent wrinkles.
As it turns out, those wrinkles around your mouth are not the result of a life of excessive smiling. As Dr. Anthony Rossi, a dermatologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center told Time Magazine, the fault doesn’t lie with your facial expressions—it’s instead all due to your skin’s diminishing elasticity. As a result of your skin’s aging process (along with genetic factors), wrinkles around your mouth are unavoidable.
Removing makeup before bed prevents wrinkles.
While this might be partly true, many dermatologists agree that removing your makeup before bed only ensures that your skin has a chance to breathe—not that this act will actually keep your skin looking younger. In fact, your skin will still be exposed to the free radicals in your environment, whether or not they are trapped in your makeup. So, the idea that wearing your makeup an extra eight hours could cause significant damage to your skin is not accurate.
Avoid stress to avoid going gray.
While it has been proven that stress causes us to age less gracefully than others more at peace, David Fisher, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School tells Scientific American that the graying process is far more complicated, as many different factors, both genetic and lifestyle-related, can contribute to early graying. While it is known that stress can impact the survival of melanocytes (the stem cells that give our hair its pigment), scientists have yet to link stress and gray hair.
Antioxidants can reverse aging.
First of all, to be clear, nothing can actually reverse the process of aging. In the past couple of years, it seems that every publication is quick to tout the benefits of antioxidants, like resveratrol, for example, which many believe may reverse signs of aging. However, as displayed by this study published in The Journal of Physiology, one would need to consume mass amounts of antioxidants in order to reap any of their benefits. So, if you find yourself working hard to introduce more antioxidant-heavy foods into your diet, just know that you’ll never really consume enough to reverse the signs of aging that are inevitable.
Hormone supplements can prevent age-related frailty.
While DHEA, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands, can be a healthy hormonal supplement to treat a number of ailments like Crohn’s disease and infertility, it can prove to be a dangerous option for those simply looking to turn back the clock on aging, according to the experts at the Hormone Health Network. In fact, when taken just for immunity health, this hormone supplement can actually throw off your body’s hormone levels, causing women to produce more testosterone and for men to produce more estrogen. Further, there has been no proven connection between hormone supplements and an improved immunity to the aging process.
Cutting calories will extend your lifespan.
Good news for those who hate sticking to diets: it turns out that cutting calories actually has no proven effect on your lifespan. While many new studies attempt to prove that a calorie-restricted diet can have positive effects on the aging process, Dr. Luigi Fontana, a research professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis tells Live Science that the way organisms sense nutrients is a more likely factor that contributes to aging—which can’t be changed by dieting.
Cutting carbs will extend your lifespan.
In the world of healthy living, there seems to be a misconception about carbohydrates. In fact, you can see the distrust of this food group with the creation of a number of low-carb or carb-free diets that claim that the absence of carbs will do the body good. news flash: our bodies need carbs. That’s not to say that processed carbs aren’t bad for you, because, in fact, they are—but including a healthy amount of whole grain, unrefined carbs (like those in fruits and vegetables) will keep your body healthy and happy well into your golden years.
Stocking up on mass amounts of proteins will keep your body young and strong.
Just in the past decade, an overwhelming amount of protein supplements and bars have hit the market—and consumers are buying into what they’re selling. Despite the common belief that consuming more protein will make the body young and strong no matter your age, there is a limit to how much protein you should be consuming—and it’s less than you think. In fact, the recommended dietary allowance for protein is .4 grams per pound of body weight, which, in a 150-pound person, amounts to 60 grams daily. Eat a chicken breast, then, and you’ve fulfilled your dietary allowance of protein for the day.
Stick to low-intensity workouts if you’re over 50.
Just because you’re officially “over the hill” doesn’t mean that you can’t work out as you did in your twenties. In fact, maintaining an active and strenuous workout regime, according to the Mayo Clinic, can actually help to reverse some of the effects of aging in your body. Researchers actually found that those over the age of 65 who participated in high-intensity interval training experienced a reversal of age-related muscle deterioration. In short: don’t wimp out with your exercise routine just because you’re aging.
Diet supplements can slow down the aging process.
While yes, dietary supplements work to keep your body healthy, taking them alone will do nothing to reverse the aging process. Perhaps though, when combined with a healthy diet, exercise, and great genetics, there might be a difference to speak of, in terms of anti-aging effects.
You don’t need to wear sunscreen in the winter.
For your skin’s sake, it’s best to slather on the sunscreen no matter the season—even during winter, New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman told Vogue. “People used to think, ‘What’s the point of wearing sunblock in winter?’ especially in Manhattan, where you never see the sun. But now we know that even your office lighting, your phone screen can be harmful,” she said.
Lasers can get rid of signs of aging on our skin.
While different kinds of lasers can erase sunspots and activate collagen, many patients believe that these laser treatments are a cure-all for their aging skin—when they’re definitely not. According to Jenny Kim, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, these lasers can only do so much to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you have more than 20 years worth of damage done to your skin, a laser is not likely to provide much relief.
Topical creams that contain vitamin C can fight aging.
Also, according to Dr. Kim, while topical creams containing vitamin C do possess the ability to fight your skin’s aging, be warned: creams that contain vitamin C tend to destabilize very quickly, so it’s best to purchase from reputable (read: expensive) brand names. In terms of anti-aging products, this is one that might as well be surpassed.
Preparation H can help remove under-eye circles.
The myth: that Preparation H, when applied under the eyes, can help to reduce or remove the dark circles under your eyes. The fact: according to Self magazine, while it does restrict the blood vessels to temporarily stop puffiness and redness, the risks far outweigh the rewards, as the potential of it getting into your eyes and severely damaging them would create a whole other (far greater) issue.