Our resident beauty guru Suzanne Wangmann investigates the validity of some popular beauty myths.
1. Brush your hair 100 times each night
When our grandmas were girls, brushing your hair 100 times before bed was the norm – and they had good reason to do it. All those strokes helped move the oil at the scalp down the hair shaft for added protection and shine.
In the 1950s conditioners were developed, which eliminated the need for such strenuous brushing. But even now, brushing your hair each day stimulates blood flow.
2. Eating chocolate makes you break out
Two generations ago it was accepted wisdom that anything sugary and fatty caused breakouts, but in the 1990s dermatologists thought hormones were the catalysts for breakouts. Now the pendulum is swinging back, with research finding high blood-sugar levels exacerbate pimples.
Breakouts are probably caused by a combination of hormones and diet. Either way, it can’t hurt to go easy on the chocolate.
3. Drink eight glasses of water a day for beautiful skin
I’m afraid it takes a bit more than that. While there is no doubt your whole body benefits from a good drink of water, a lot of it gets passed out again. Getting it to stay in the cells is the secret to beautiful-looking skin, and for that you need a healthy skin barrier.
Moisturiser supports the barrier. Try one with humectants such as glycerine, panthenol and hyaluronic acid, or a petroleum-based glycol, to draw extra moisture to the skin. And don’t forget sunscreen. Sun damage is the leading cause of premature skin ageing.
4. White spots on your nails indicate a calcium deficiency
We’re not sure where this came from, but it’s a trauma to the nail that causes white marks under it.
5. Shaving your legs makes the hair grow back thicker and darker.
This is not true. The hairs feel blunted because the tapered ends have been cut off but that’s the only reason. If you think the hairs have grown thicker and darker, this is probably just due to ageing.
6. Haemorrhoid cream under the eyes reduces bags.
Some haemorrhoid creams do contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, but so do eye creams, and I know which one I would rather put near my eyes. Don’t be a cheapskate. Buy the stuff formulated to go near your eyes.
7. Tea bags staunch bleeding
This old remedy to stop bleeding has science behind it. The tannin in tea constricts blood vessels. Place a cooled, used tea bag on a cut for about a minute.
8. Doubling up on sunscreens makes them more effective
Unfortunately, no. If you put on a SPF 15 sunscreen and then a SPF 4 foundation over the top, you’re not getting an SPF of 19. And no matter what the SPF, or how many coats you put on, a sunscreen does not replace a hat.
9. Pluck out one grey hair and two will grow in its place
I doubt anyone ever took this one seriously. It is simply a way of saying that once you have one grey hair, more will follow.
10. Don’t pluck above the brow
Nothing awful will happen if you prune the top of your brows, but you get a more natural result if you simply neaten the underside.