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9 Skin Care Myths Debunked

The truth about products, treatments, and what’s right for your regimen.

Myth: It's better to get the pus out of a pimple by popping it.

"The truth is, even though it feels really good to release [the pus], a lot of it just goes in deeper," says Johnson. "When it goes in deeper, it causes more inflammation that can lead to scarring and spread under the skin. That's why you'll get another one a few days later close to the first one."

Johnson says it's crucial that people stop picking at their faces. But if you absolutely cannot resist, she says, be sure to do it right. Don't squeeze and pop the pimple. Instead, use something called a comedone extractor -- an inexpensive tool you can purchase at most beauty supply stores. Apply firm pressure with the extractor; then roll it across the pimple to take it out.

Myth: Facials and microdermabrasion are good for your skin care routine.

This is a popular myth, says Bauman, especially with the proliferation of day spas. But, Bauman says, a recent study from India concluded that facials actually cause acne breakouts in 80% of people.

"They feel good but have no long-term skin benefit beyond relaxation," she says. "Like microdermabrasion, which merely sloughs off the top layer of skin, they are a "complete and total waste of money."

Myth: Expensive skin care products work best.

"This is simply not true," Bauman, who uses popular drugstore moisturizers and sunscreen for her own skin care regimen, says. "Many mass market products are better than expensive ones."

Kim agrees. Most active ingredients found in anti-aging creams are similar, she says, whether they are sold by a local store or a fancy boutique. Expensive skin care products can be good, of course. It's just that you can usually get something similar for a lot less.

"If you want to pay for the feel, smell, and package," Kim says, "that's up to you."

Myth: Antiaging products (or "wrinkle creams") can erase wrinkles.

Most wrinkle creams simply hydrate skin, plumping it out and making it look better temporarily. So don't buy into the hype. There is one product that has a solid history and reputation for reversing fine lines, however, Bauman says. That is topical retinoids.

Often sold under the name "Retinol" or "Tretinoin," these creams or drops penetrate the skin and increase skin cell turnover. Studies have shown them to be fairly effective at treating acne, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and reversing the effects of photoaging or sun damage. Some retinoids can be purchased over the counter. For greater strength, ask your doctor for a prescription.

Kim also recommends using an antioxidant cream containing vitamin C but cautions that these creams tend to destabilize very quickly. So they should be purchased from a reputable company.

But be advised, Kim warns: "Nothing is magic."

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