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Beauty Myths Busted!: Uncovering Truths about Makeup, Skin, and Hair Care

From the moment you first swiped on lip gloss in middle school to when you tried on a new brand of foundation at Sephora last weekend, you’ve been bombarded with beauty myths. Is it really dangerous to sleep in your makeup? Is it okay to share makeup with friends? For answers to these questions and more, I turned to Dr. Cynthia Bailey a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Northern California, for help.  

Beauty Myth #1: You can get pink-eye if you don’t take off your eye makeup at night. Possibly true. After a fun night out with friends, it can be tempting to crash the minute you get back to your dorm. You can always wash off your makeup the next morning, right? Maybe not. “It all goes back to germs. You don’t want to keep your pores closed and clogged with makeup and oils that might cause a resident bacteria to become a pathogen (infecting and harmful germ),” explains Bailey. “I always take off my eye makeup before I go to bed at night,” says Stephanie Kaplan, Her Campus co-founder. “One of the only times I didn’t, I woke up with pink eye two days later, and I’m convinced that was the reason.” Before you go to bed, make sure to take off your makeup. Try Pond’s Cold Cream or Maybelline Expert Eyes 100% Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, both available at Drugstore.com. Your eyes will thank you!

Beauty Myth #2: Sharing makeup with friends can be dangerous. True. Have you ever borrowed a friend’s mascara or swiped on her lip gloss? Think twice before sharing again. According to Bailey, “Twenty-five percent of people carry a bacteria germ called staph aureus on their skin and in their nose without showing any skin infections. The germ is capable of causing a variety of skin infections including shaving pustules (raised, red, inflamed bumps), impetigo (pus-filled blisters) and worse. The germ can reside in makeup, along with the cold sore virus herpes simplex and other viruses.” Bailey says that it’s safe to use makeup that can be poured or squeezed out of the container without your skin coming in contact with the product. However, dipping fingers or brushes into the same product or using the same mascara wand can cause cross-contamination. “It’s like double-dipping chips and dip,” she says. To stay healthy and pretty, stick to wearing your own makeup.

Beauty Myth #3: Drinking eight glasses of water per day isn’t necessary. Unclear. “This is being disputed right now in the media,” says Bailey. Even though the jury is still out on this beauty myth, that’s no excuse for putting down your water bottle. Bailey warns, “A dehydrated person will have skin that is lax and dull.” Keep a water bottle with you at all times and refill it often to stay hydrated and looking bright. Even if eight glasses of water isn’t necessary to stay healthy, there are still other benefits to staying hydrated. Drinking water can help you lose weight, relieve headaches and fatigue, and aid digestion.  


Beauty Myth #4: Hair becomes immune to a specific shampoo if you don’t switch shampoos regularly.  True. As loyal as you may be to your favorite shampoo, you may actually be doing your hair a disservice by using it regularly. According to Bailey, “Hair products are designed to leave a layer of product on your hair shaft to achieve a certain styling result. This product builds up and creates a heavy, lifeless appearance. Switching to a different product will allow the previous product to slough off and the new one to build up.” To avoid product build-up, switch between shampoos every few weeks and use a clarifying shampoo once a week.

Beauty Myth #5: Shaving makes your hair grow back darker and thicker. Somewhat true. At one point or another, we’ve all heard that shaving can cause hair to grow back darker and thicker. But before you put down your razor, understand where this myth came from. Bailey says, “Hair naturally thickens in caliber over time on many parts of our bodies. Plus, shaving actually creates a point, like a knife blade on the cut hair shaft. It makes the hair feel firmer and ‘thicker’.” While your hair isn’t actually thicker, the point of the hair shaft makes it appear so. Waxing may reduce this effect.

Beauty Myth #6: Crossing your legs can lead to varicose (or spider) veins. (Swollen and twisted veins that have filled with an abnormal amount of blood.) True. Unfortunately, this myth is completely true. “Blood returns from your feet to your heart by the muscle contractions of your leg muscles. Crossing your legs compresses the blood vessels so the blood can’t pass through. If the vessels get really full, you will blow the one-way valves in these vessels that keeps all the blood from falling back down to your feet after each muscle contraction. Varicose veins are usually behind the knee or on the side of the calf, both of which are the places where the pressure is the greatest.” explains Bailey. Crossing one leg over the other, sitting criss-cross, and sitting on one leg all can lead to varicose veins. This damage is permanent, so make sure to move around often and avoid crossing your legs for extended periods of time!

In addition to treating patients, Bailey blogs at Dr. Bailey Skin Care. For more tips, check out her blog!

What beauty myth are you curious about that we didn’t address here?  Leave a comment! 

Cynthia Bailey, MD [http://www.drbaileyskincare.com]  

Originally from Boston, Hannah is now a sophomore at New York University and loves life in the big city. Her favorite things include poking fun at celebrities on Twitter, yoga, leopard print shoes, Frank Sinatra, and her little sister Julia. Hannah was Her Campus's first editorial intern in Summer 2010 and has since continued her involvement with HC as the High School Editor and head of the High School Ambassador program. She is a former Seventeen and Huffington Post intern, where she researched and wrote about celebrities and once made lunch for Kylie Jenner. Read her short-form ramblings at @hannahorens.