Style + Beauty

Beauty Myths Debunked
The world of beauty is full of great advice when it comes to looking and feeling your best. But it's also full of old wives' tales. READ: 10 Myths About Cheating, Debunked So how much of everything you do to look gorgeous actually works, and what should you just forget? Our friends over at Real Simple debunk some common beauty myths:
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Myth 1: Crossing your legs will give you varicose veins.

Sitting down and crossing your legs won't cause varicose or spider veins, but standing may. Pronounced veins often crop up on people who either have a genetic predisposition to them or have jobs that require them to stand a lot, says Kevin Pinski, a dermatologist in Chicago. Standing makes the vascular network work extra hard to pump blood from the legs up to the heart. If the valves, which keep blood flowing in one direction within your vessels, aren't functioning properly, a pooling of blood can occur and result in unsightly veins. Pregnancy, which puts added pressure on the circulatory system, or a trauma ― getting hit by a softball or a car door, for example ― can also lead to varicose or spider veins.

Myth 2: You can get rid of cellulite.

Ah, if only. "This remains one of the holy grails of cosmetic dermatology," says Timothy Flynn, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Nothing can be done to permanently eliminate it ― not even liposuction. Cellulite consists of fat deposits that get trapped between the fibrous bands that connect the skin's tissues. The bands squeeze the fat under the skin, resulting in a lumpy texture. Luck of the gene pool mostly determines who will and won't get cellulite. It doesn't matter whether you're fat or thin. You can, however, temporarily reduce its orange peel-like appearance. Firming creams often contain caffeine to tighten and smooth the skin. But a basic moisturizer will also work to hydrate and swell the skin, making cellulite a little less obvious. Or try using a self-tanner. "A fake tan will help camouflage it," says Elizabeth Tanzi, a dermatologist and a codirector of laser surgery at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C.

Myth 3: Shaving will make your hair grow back darker and thicker.

"Hair that hasn't been cut grows to a point," says Heather Woolery-Lloyd, a dermatologist in Miami. "It's widest at the base and narrowest at the tip." When you shave a hair, you cut it at the base. The widest part then grows out, and the hair appears thicker. But shaving doesn't change the width, density or color of hair.

Myth 4: Putting Vaseline on your face nightly will prevent wrinkles.

Marilyn Monroe allegedly slathered the thick salve on religiously to stay youthful-looking, but that doesn't mean you should. "Petroleum jelly is the strongest moisturizer there is because it forces oils into the skin and prevents them from evaporating," says Paul Jarrod Frank, a dermatologist in New York City. As the skin ages, it loses its ability to retain moisture, and skin that's dry looks older. "Petroleum jelly can make wrinkles less apparent because it's adding moisture to the skin, which softens lines, but it can't actually prevent aging," Pinski says. Only a cream with a proven active ingredient, such as retinol, can stave off wrinkles. Plus, petroleum jelly is so greasy that it can create other problems, including breakouts.

Myth 5: Wearing nail polish all the time will make your nails turn yellow.

This is true, but you can wear enamel all you like and still avoid discoloration. Nails are porous, and they absorb the pigment in polishes. "Darker colors, especially reds, have more pigment, so they often stain your nails," says Maria Salandra, the owner of Finger Fitness in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. The solution: Before applying polish, paint on a clear base coat, such as Essie All in One Base Coat ($9.50, essie.com), to prevent nails from absorbing pigment.

Myth 6: You can shrink your pores.

It's actually impossible to change the size of pores, but you can make them look smaller ― and using egg whites, a beauty trick Grandma may have tried, does work. "Egg whites tighten the skin, giving the illusion of smaller pores, but it's a temporary effect," says Elizabeth McBurney, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

Myth 7: If you use wax to remove hair, fewer hairs will grow back.

"Wax rips the hair out at the follicles," explains Woolery-Lloyd. "And any repeated injury to the follicles over time ― we're talking 20 years ― could damage some follicles to the point that they don't grow back." So employ waxing for its ability to keep your legs smoother longer than shaving can, not for diminishing hair growth.

Myth 8: Preparation H deflates puffiness.

This is a secret of makeup artists everywhere, and there's a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that this hemorrhoid cream can reduce undereye baggage, but no clinical studies have been done. One of the product's ingredients, a yeast derivative that is said to reduce puffiness, is no longer found in the version that's available in the States. (The cream was reformulated in 1994.) The other ingredient that is credited with reducing inflammation is phenylephrine, which temporarily constricts blood vessels. Nevertheless, using Preparation H around the eyes can cause dry and inflamed skin, says McBurney, so use this only where it's meant to be used, south of the belt line.

Beauty Myths Debunked

The world of beauty is full of great advice when it comes to looking and feeling your best. But it's also full of old wives' tales. READ: 10 Myths About Cheating, Debunked So how much of everything you do to look gorgeous actually works, and what should you just forget? Our friends over at Real Simple debunk some common beauty myths:

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