Your friend says that her daily green juice has restored radiance in her once-lackluster skin; your mother-in-law all but stopped smiling because she claims it gave her wrinkles. Face it: anti-aging advice can often be a game of rumor has it -- and separating fact from fiction can be tricky. We went straight to the pros -- top dermatologists and estheticians -- to set the record straight on some of the biggest skin care misconceptions.
Myth: Expensive treatments work better than cheaper versions.
Fact: "Products at the drugstore can be even more effective than pricey, department store treatments," says Doris Day, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. "It's often packaging or even the perfume that makes a product expensive, not the actual science." To be a smart shopper, pay attention to the claims. "If they sound too good to be true, you're being taken," Day says. At the drugstore level, go with tried-and-trusted brands from big names such as Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, and Procter and Gamble. "I've seen their labs," Day says. "They're not putting a ton of money into packaging -- it's spent on research and development."
Myth: Your diet doesn't contribute to wrinkles.
Fact: Your sweet tooth can add to skin's lines, dullness, and sagging. "Sugar and inflammatory foods (refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and saturated fats) affect internal organs, which in turn affect the aging process," says Paul Jarrod Frank, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. To slow down skin aging, Frank suggests a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as veggies, almonds, avocado, and fish.
Myth: You can skip sunscreen if you're in the shade, car, or office.
Fact: UVB rays, responsible for sunburns, can reach skin indirectly, through reflection when you're under an umbrella or near a window, Frank says. To play it safe, slather on a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every single day. Try L'Oreal Paris Sublime Sun Advanced Sunscreen SPF 50+ Liquid Silk Sunshield ($11; lorealparisusa.com).
Myth: Your genes will determine how you'll age.
Fact: Genetics do play a role, but they aren't everything. "Free radicals are now believed by most medical researchers to be the bottom line of disease and aging, contributing not only to wrinkles, but to acne, sensitivity, age spots, dryness, loss of skin elasticity, and skin cancer," says celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau. "By reducing the amount of free radicals that your body creates (avoiding sun exposure and stress, and getting more rest), and incorporating the daily use of sunscreen, topical antioxidants, and a high antioxidant diet, you can control how fast your skin ages to a greater degree," she says. Try an antioxidant treatment every morning such as Origins Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 with green tea and vitamins C and E ($35; origins.com).
Myth: Wrinkles are formed by smiles and frowns.
Fact: It's not entirely false. "Wrinkles can occur from facial expressions since muscles are being used," Frank says. "But the loss of volume in the face has a greater effect." That volume loss occurs due to a natural breakdown of collagen and fat. To counteract it, apply topical treatments that contain peptides, which promote skin's own production of collagen. Try Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Face Cream ($21.50; olay.com).