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Nine skin care myths

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

When it comes to skin care, it can be hard to separate myths from facts.

Here are nine top skin care myths unwrapped:

1. Tanning booths are safe as long as they don't contain UVB rays.

We all know tanning is unhealthy and can lead to skin cancer and premature ageing. However, what about tanning booths? Tanning-booth companies often say they are filtering out the so-called sunburn UVB rays.

However, when you go to a tanning booth, you're still exposing your skin to UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage that can lead to premature ageing and the development of skin cancers.

2. The SPF indicates protection against all UV.

There are three kinds of ultraviolet (UV) rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA rays penetrate the skin fairly deeply, altering our pigmentation to produce a tan. UVA also contributes to causing premature skin ageing and to skin cancers. UVB rays are the primary sunburn rays. These also damage our skin's DNA and cause photoageing, pigment changes, and skin cancers. UVC rays are absorbed by the atmosphere and don't make it to the ground.

The SPF on a sunscreen refers to the amount of protection the product offers from UVB rays. Sunscreens need to offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Look for an SPF of at least 15 and "broad spectrum" with a star rating of at least four or five stars.

3. You don't need sunscreen on a cloudy day.

Even on a cloudy day, UV radiation from the sun reaches the earth's surface. So make sure you use sunscreen every day, and reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.

Also, don't fall prey to the myth that just because you're wearing make-up with an SPF, you're protected. Make sure you use sunscreen in addition to your make-up.

4. Scrubbing your face with soap will keep your skin healthy and acne free.

When you scrub your face, you're taking off some of the protective oils and barriers, which tends to lead to rashes and even burns. Instead, some experts recommend a gentle cleanser followed by a moisturiser or sunscreen.

5. It's better to get the pus out of a spot by squeezing it.

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

Experts say picking spots is bad, but if you absolutely cannot resist, do it in the right way. Don't squeeze and pop the inflammation. Instead, use something called a comedone extractor - which can be bought at most pharmacies. Apply firm pressure with the extractor, then roll across the spot to take it out.

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