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Beauty hit or myth? See which old wives' tales ring true when it comes to skincare

3 September 2010
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For all the science that goes into developing modern skincare, it’s often the oldest advice that helps skin look its best. Sally Penford of the International Dermal Institute separates the fact from the fiction…

Lemon lightens skin - Lemon has a gentle bleaching effect, but not enough to make a significant difference.

Toothpaste treats spots - It won’t clear a spot, but it usually contains menthol which cools skin and soothes inflammation.

Warm vegetable oil helps dry, cracked skin - Applying warm vegetable oil will help soften dry skin. Sweet almond oil contains vitamins and minerals, proteins and glycosides and is anti-inflammatory. Apricot kernel oil is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin A and as it easily penetrates, is ideal for prematurely aged, dry or irritated skin. Avocado oil is also deeply penetrating and is rich in vitamins A, D and E and lecithin and potassium.

Petroleum jelly makes your lashes grow - Nope. But it can cause puffiness and whiteheads.

Don’t use moisturiser if you have oily skin - Not true. All skin types need the added protection moisturiser provides, not least in keeping the skin’s natural barrier layer supple to prevent further moisture loss. Just go for oil-free, oil-absorbing ones with antioxidants and anti-bacterial ingredients.

Eating oily fish helps dry or eczema-prone skin - Yes. The omega oils help nourish skin cells and ward off dry, flaky skin. 

Honey helps heal - There is plenty of research substantiating the healing properties of honey, particularly Manuka honey, which has calming and anti-bacterial properties.

If you want to know how you’ll age, look at your mother - Genetics account for skin colour and type, but only about ten per cent of skin ageing.

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