We love our grandmothers for more reasons than we can reasonably count here, but their beauty advice has gone the way of rotary telephones and wrapping your beehive in toilet paper at bedtime.
And although you may be a modern woman in every sense of the term, you may have inherited skin care suggestions that are doing more harm than good.
Here are 7 outdated skincare tips and how they might be hurting your face:
Outdated Tip #1: Lather Your Skin in Vaseline
Back in the day, petroleum jelly was a staple on nightstands across the country, the go-to source for everything from fine lines and wrinkles to dry hands.
But consider this: petroleum jelly is very much as it sounds. A by-product of petroleum—as in oil for your Acura’s engine—Vaseline is an occlusive agent. In non-scientific terms, it prevents moisture loss by creating a big, bad barrier (read: waxy and greasy) between your skin and the environs.
So what’s the harm in that? Plenty, it turns out.
While petroleum jelly is an ingredient in Crème de la Mar (yes, that Crème de la Mar on display at Bloomie’s), it’s also overly effective in its preventative powers, clogging your pores and provoking breakouts.
What’s more, that jar of refined crude oil—let’s call a spade a spade—is full of icky contaminates that can lead to a boatload of health problems.
In 2007, the Environmental Working Group found that products containing petroleum increased an individual’s chances of getting cancer through the inclusion of a carcinogen called 1, 4-dioxane (the name alone sounds daunting, doesn’t it?)
A safer, smarter way to rehydrate? A natural moisturizer that won’t come near potentially dangerous additives. Try our own Organic Age Defying Moisturizer (and give a jar of it to your grandmother while you’re at it).
Outdated Tip #2: Sunbathe with Baby Oil
Come across a photo of your mom beaching it in the 60s and you might just see her skin slick as an eel’s.
Once The Beach Boys exploded on the scene, tanning went from the province of the upper echelons of society to a mainstream pastime.
To expedite bronzing, ladies and gents plastered their limbs in baby oil—which intensifies the effects of the sun—with some even going so far to use aluminum foil reflectors (hello, 1980s sunburns).
Problem is, baby oil might capture those rays with rapid results but it increases your chance of burning too—to say nothing about the dangers of laying out in the sun in the first place. Devoid of SPF, baby oil is comprised of mineral oil and fragrance. The former has been shown to clog pores; the latter to irritate complexions.
Outdated Tip #3: Brighten, Tighten, and Clarify with Lemon Juice
It kind-of makes sense when you think about it: most household cleansers are scented with lemons, perhaps leading those in the pre-internet olden days to think that lemons could be a cure-all for skin problems, including treating acne and lightening dark spots.
While it sounds far healthier than coating your complexion in petroleum jelly (see #1), lemon juice irritates more than it soothes.
According to the National Institute of Health, lemon juice is phototoxic. In other words, the acids in lemon juice strip your skin of its natural moisture and texture, rendering you susceptible to burns and other forms of skin damage.
So save that slice of Meyer for your iced tea: taken non-topically, lemon has excellent health benefits.
Outdated Tip #4: Zap Zits with Toothpaste
Spot a pimple, reach for the Crest?
Seemed like a simple, economical solution when we were teenagers, but we’ve come a long way in terms of understanding the body’s largest organ (yes, that would be your skin).
The leading ingredients of toothpaste are baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol—three of the most drying ingredients you could possibly put on your complexion.
While toothpaste pulls oil from acne, it might also leave it infected—not to mention super dried out and patchy.
So save that tube of blue for your chompers. It’s where it was made to be put.
Outdated Tip #5: Use Sunscreen Only During the Summer Months
Sunscreen used to mean one thing: summer vacations spent by some sun-drenched pool or shore, when all the kids your age had peeling skin no matter how many times your mom reapplied SPF, which, by and large, was used only between Memorial and Labor Day.
But remember that this was before the detrimental impacts of sun damage had made their way into mainstream consciousness, when adults pestered us to put on that sunscreen, but only when it was, well, sunny.
Now we know that SPF isn’t season or sport-dependent. It’s that simple. Whether we’re driving on an overcast day in California or heading to a friend’s shady backyard in the Hamptons, we need sunscreen almost as much as we need water.
Take it from the derms: wearing sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do for your skin, even in the dead of winter. Be sure to reach for an organic brand, devoid of skin clogging chemicals.
Outdated Tip #6: Exfoliate with Baking Soda
To the matriarchs in our lives, baking soda was a key ingredient for countless things—a vital addition for baking, a superb cleanser, a means to unclog drains, a refrigerator deodorizer…and a “magic” way to rejuvenate complexions.
While Emma Stone claims to use it as part of her budget beauty routine, the fact remains that baking soda acts as an irritant.
It’s alkaline, which disrupts the natural pH balance of your skin and results in cumulative damage. What’s more, exfoliating dries your complexion if it isn’t done properly. Include baking soda and you’re basically adding insult to injury.
The modern woman’s answer?
Exfoliate with a gentle cleanser and follow it up with a moisturizer that hydrates and enlivens. Then thank your grandmother for her wisdom on life and love, but save that jar of mayonnaise for your rendition of her potato salad. (Another post entirely!)