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Oprah’s Five Biggest Beauty Lies Revealed

Health and Beauty, Beauty Myths

Pinterest is now a hot location for picking up tips on everything from decorating to meal planning. Many beauty “secrets” make their way around the social networking website as well, such as how to whiten your teeth or how to get rid of cellulite. But beware! Some of the most commonly “known” beauty tips are actually myths. Oprah revealed five of them in her magazine, O.

Lie #1: Acne is caused by chocolate and greasy food.
Diet has long been implicated in having a role in acne, but some foods that are mentioned are just myths. Chocolate, for example, has not been found to be the culprit in breakouts, but sugar has. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that foods high on the glycemic index, such as white sugar and white flour, were associated with more acne problems than those with a low GI. Another ingredient in most chocolate that has been implicated in stimulating hormones that lead to acne is dairy.

Greasy foods may appear to bring about more skin problems because of the overall effect that high fat foods have on the body, such as causing inflammation.

Dr. Diane Berson MD, an assistant professor of dermatology, reports that foods high in iodine may exacerbate acne because it is excreted through the skin’s oil glands, so if you are having problems – hold off on the sushi and shellfish.

Lie #2: Sleep deprivation leads to dark undereye circles
"Dark undereye circles are the result of a concentration of veins beneath the very thin skin in that area," says David J. Leffell, MD, professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "They're determined by genetics and won't change with more or less sleep."
However, that’s not to say a late night won’t cause facial changes the next morning. Staying up late can lead to fluid retention under the eyes and that puffiness can draw attention to existing discoloration. And if you had a dinner high in sodium, that would contribute to morning-after puffiness as well.

Treating the underlying cause is the best defense against undereye “bags”. You may want to adjust your sleeping position, says dermatologist Valerie Goldburt MD PhD of NYU Langone Medical Center. Sleeping on your side or stomach can encourage fluids to collect under the eyes. Sleep, instead, on your back and add an extra pillow under your head. Ladies, be sure to remove your eye makeup before hitting the sack. Eye shadow and mascara can irritate the eyes, causing fluids to pool.

And those late nights? Heavy alcohol drinking causes dehydration. That weakens the delicate skin around the eyes, making it more likely to sink into a pouch. That would certainly draw attention to discoloration as well.

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Lie #3: Drinking lots of water hydrates the skin.
Speaking of dehydration, if it causes delicate skin to “sink”, does that mean that drinking excess water the next day will help the skin firm back up? No, it doesn’t work that way, says Dr. Katie Rodan MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford. "You can hydrate the skin only from the outside, with moisturizer," she says. "Skin isn't like a plant that wilts and then perks up with a drink of water."

Moisturizers prevent and treat dry skin, protect sensitive skin, improve skin tone and texture, and can mask imperfections. Choosing a moisturizer best for your personal needs depends on many factors, such as skin type, age, and whether you have specific conditions such as acne. Regardless of the type of moisturizer you purchase, be sure it contains sunscreen to protect the skin from sun damage.

Lie #4: Eighty percent of your lifetime sun damage occurs before age 18
Speaking of sun damage…you do probably get most of your sun exposure before age 18, especially if you were an active child that played outdoors. Today, most of us work indoors during most of the sunlight hours, so we aren’t accumulating as much, but that is not to say that it isn’t doing any damage.

A study published by the American Society for Photobiology found that Americans probably only acquire about 23% of their sun damage by age 18 and get about 10 percent more every decade after that. "So never think, I blew it. The damage is done. I’ll just keep tanning," says Kathy Fields, a San Francisco dermatologist.

To prevent future sun damage, avoid tanning – both outdoor and indoor – and apply an SPF 30 or greater sunscreen every morning. Dr. Fields suggests choosing a product that also contains antioxidants, as they may provide one more layer of protection. To treat damage that you already have, see a dermatologist for a prescription product (prescription hydroquinone can treat dark spots, for example) or use an over-the counter retinol cream nightly which helps to renew the skin and minimize the appearance of fine lines and uneven skin tone.

Lie#5: Crossing your legs causes varicose veins
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted and sometimes painful veins that have filled with an abnormal collection of blood. Genetics, pregnancy, and spending long periods of time on your feet are contributing factors, but not leg crossing.

"Crossing your legs does put some pressure on your veins, but you would have to keep them crossed 12 hours a day for months at a time to see an effect on the formation of varicose veins," says Dr. Berson.

To treat varicose veins at home, avoid standing for too long, raise legs when resting or sleeping and wear elastic support hose. However, see a doctor if you have leg pain, skin sores caused by the poor blood flow, or a thickening and hardening of the skin in the legs and ankles.

Debunking Beauty Myths: O, The Oprah Magazine
Banish the Bags Under Your Eyes: WebMD
Moisturizers, Options for Softer Skin: MayoClinic
True or False? Most Sun Damage to Skin is Done by Age 18?: RealSimple Magazine
Varicose Veins: National Institutes of Health