Why It’s Senseless to Detoxify Your Skin (and 4 Other Beauty Myths Explained)

BY Dermstore Editors · September 28, 2015

Whether we’re talking about diet trends, workout routines or even relationship issues, the word “detox” always seems to have a place in the conversation. Lately, it’s also found its way into skin care. So we asked Desiree Stordahl, beauty expert, best-selling co-author alongside Paula Begoun and a leading force on the Paula’s Choice Research Team, to give us the facts behind this commonly held belief, as well as her take on four other skin myths.

Detox Skin Myth - DermStore


Myth 1: You need to detoxify skin.

“Despite what you may have heard, you cannot ‘detoxify’ your skin. An actual toxin is a poison, and I’m talking about real poisons, such as those produced by plants, animals, insects, reptiles (think snake venom or bee stings) or other organisms. Toxins cannot leave your body through the pores or through your skin, whether via sweat or other means: They’re filtered, broken down and removed by the kidneys and liver. Regardless of the skin concern you’re battling, ‘toxins’ aren’t to blame. So don’t waste your money on products claiming to get rid of them.”


Myth 2: If you can’t see or feel irritation from a product, there’s nothing to worry about.

“The sneaky thing about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage can remain hidden for a long time so you don’t realize it’s aging your skin.

For instance, two major irritants that skin may not react outwardly to are highly fragrant formulas and products that contain skin-ravaging amounts of alcohol*. Research clearly indicates those are problems for skin by generating free radical damage, inhibiting healthy collagen production and depleting the vital substances your skin needs to stay young and healthy.

* In the case of alcohol, there are good kinds and bad. The skin-damaging types are listed as ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol and benzyl alcohol, or simply ‘alcohol’ (when among the main ingredients—the first five or so; smaller amounts aren’t cause for concern). These types of alcohol can be extremely drying and irritating to skin and capable of generating free radical damage and disrupting the skin’s protective barrier. The beneficial types of alcohol, such as cetyl alcohol or stearyl alcohol, are classified as fatty alcohols that are used as emollients and thickeners in cosmetics. Fatty alcohols are not irritating and, in fact, can be beneficial for dry skin.”


Myth 3: Applying toothpaste over a pimple will help get rid of it.

“I’m all for a good beauty hack, but this just isn’t one of them. The kind of bacteria that fluoride kills is different from the bacteria that causes ance (p. acnes). And, more to the point, the menthol and peppermint in toothpaste are bad for skin and can actually trigger inflammation that makes acne worse. I repeat, do not apply toothpaste to a zit.

What should you do instead? Treat breakout-prone skin with a combo of salicylic acid (also called BHA) and benzoyl peroxide.”


Myth 4: You should avoid parabens in beauty products.

“You’ve probably noticed more and more brands are advertising that their products are ‘paraben-free’ or ‘formulated without parabens,’ and you might be wondering why companies think it’s so important to put this on their product labels. The truth? This is the result of years of misinterpretation and misinformation that has given parabens, which are a group of cosmetic and food preservatives, an undeserved bad reputation.

Despite the fear-mongering media frenzy surrounding parabens, the published research and global cosmetics regulatory organizations are making the answer clear: Parabens, especially in the small amounts used in personal care products, do not pose a health risk. In fact, parabens are originally derived from raspberries, but I don’t see anyone telling you to stop eating raspberries! It’s not that going ‘paraben-free’ is a bad thing, it’s just not necessary.”


Myth 5: Applying products with different pH levels reduces their effectiveness, so you should allow time in between applications.

“Skin care junkies ask us about this from time to time, but it’s a misguided concern. Cosmetic chemists know that few consumers use only one product, therefore they take steps (known as a buffer solution) to stabilize their formula’s pH to ensure that it remains compatible with other types of products. Any water-based product (like most moisturizers) has its pH firmly established during the formulary and mixing phase, long before it reaches your home. Once that pH range is set, it’s impossible to alter with other skin care products applied on top.

There you have it, one less thing to worry about when it comes to your skin care routine!”


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Dermstore Editors

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