Let's face it: Skincare myths

Don’t believe all that you read out there. Chrystal Chan gets NTU experts to weigh in on four beauty and skincare myths

“Drinking eight glasses of water a day prevents your skin from feeling dry.”
When your skin feels tight and dry, do you reach for water, believing that guzzling eight glasses of that a day will keep your skin moist? It’s merely a myth, says Assoc Prof Chua Sze Hon, lead for dermatology at NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

“The reason your skin feels dry isn’t because you haven’t been drinking enough water. It’s because your skin’s moisture barrier isn’t locking in the water particles as it should.”

To keep your skin’s moisture barrier working properly, use mild skin cleansers instead of harsh soaps and don’t forget to moisturise daily, suggests Assoc Prof Chua.

“Dark circles under the eyes are caused by a lack of sleep.”
Night owls might have reason to rejoice – that “panda look” is not necessarily the result of late nights.

“Dark circles are caused by many factors including genes, excessive pigmentation, prominent veins and a thin and translucent lower eyelid skin, amongst others,” says Assoc Prof Chua.

“While a lack of sleep may worsen dark circles due to constant eye rubbing or a congestion of the blood vessels around your eyes, this is not a major contributing factor.”

Sure, your Korean drama marathons are important, but it’s time to stop blaming them for the shadows under your eyes. And no, cucumbers don’t do anything to lighten them either, adds Assoc Prof Chua.

“Eating chocolates will make you break out in pimples.”
It seems like experts have been arguing about this since the dawn of time. According to some recent studies, chocolate consumption causes the body to react to common acne bacteria with increased inflammation, resulting in zits and pimple breakouts.

“This could explain why it’s commonly believed that eating chocolate worsens acne in acne-prone people. However, other published studies show no link between acne outbreaks and diet,” says Prof Artur Schmidtchen, Professor of Dermatology and Skin Biology at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

“My recommendation is that if you feel chocolate worsens your acne, you should take that into consideration instead of brushing it aside as a myth.”

“Taking collagen supplements will make your skin look more youthful.”
The jury is still out on this one. While some doctors say that consuming collagen does not help to replace the skin’s collagen levels, two recent studies published this year have shown that skin elasticity for the group of testers that consumed specific collagen peptides were significantly better than the group that consumed an inactive substance.

One of the studies also showed a reduction in wrinkles around the eye area after four weeks of supplement-taking. “Although quite intriguing, more conclusive studies are needed to establish the relationship between collagen ingestion and skin quality,” says Prof Schmidtchen.

Still tempted by the promise of collagen drinks and powders at health stores and pharmacies? Consume such supplements in moderation if you must, Assoc Prof Chua suggests. “They’re certainly not a substitute for daily use of sunscreen and adequate sun protection. It is a lot of work taking pills daily, and you’ll be spending a lot of money for a very small gain, if any.”
Face-saving research
The new Skin Research Institute of Singapore – set up by NTU with the Agency for Science, Technology & Research and the National Skin Centre – is getting to the rind of skin maladies. The institute brings to light the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine’s strategic focus on skin research that includes tissue repair and regeneration. We look forward to more face-savers from NTU’s world-renowned skin researchers.