21 September 2017Last updated

Beauty | Grooming

Top beauty myths, busted!

From hair growing back thicker after shaving to spots caused by chocolate and white marks on your nails being a sign of illness – Louise Emma Clarke busts the top beauty myths…

Louise Emma Clarke
26 Aug 2016 | 12:00 am
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White spots on nails signify illness

Whether we notice them occasionally during a manicure change or are plagued with them on a regular basis, the idea that white marks (officially known as leukonychia or milk spots) on our nails are a sign of illness is usually set firmly in our mind. However, there’s no need to book an appointment with your doctor right away.

‘These white marks are occasionally caused by overuse of formaldehyde-based nail products, but nine out of 10 times you have just banged your nail and forgotten about it,’ says Nonie Creme, creative director of nail brand Butter London.

How can bumps result in marks? Says celebrity manicurist Glenis Baptiste, ‘Our nails have five layers, with air pockets between. When the nail is bumped, air gets trapped and appears as white marks.’ It’s as simple as that.


Try You just need to be patient and wait for the leukonychia to grow out as the nail grows and disappear soon – but there’s no reason why you can’t apply a coat of nail varnish to hide them until then. So don’t be scared to book a manicure.

It’s worth choosing a breathable formula to allow your nails to recover, such as the popular Inglot O2M Breathable Polish (Dh160, Inglot stores nationwide), which allows both air and water to pass to the nail.

Toothpaste clears up spots

Most of us have applied toothpaste to a spot at some point, believing it will dry it out overnight and leave us with clear, glowing skin come morning. So is there any truth in it? No, say the experts – and in fact, you could be aggravating the problem. New York-based dermatologist Dr Neal Schultz explains: ‘Toothpaste contains certain ingredients – baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, menthol, essential oils and triclosan – that cause pimples to dry out.’

‘However, there are no ingredients in toothpaste that make this method more effective than conventional treatments.’

And while it may have a drying effect, you definitely can’t expect the spot to disappear. In fact, you are likely to be rewarded with redness, peeling, soreness and increased sensitivity, making you wish you’d reached for a tube of blemish cream all along.

‘Toothpaste is quite a harsh product to apply to your skin and may result in skin rashes and increased sensitivity,’ says Kristy Goodger, founder of skincare brand Elemental Herbology. ‘You’d be far better off looking for a product designed specifically for blemishes, which will treat the spot without being too aggressive.’


Try Shiseido Pureness Blemish Targeting Gel (Dh129, is a much better bet. The clear gel can be applied under make-up to help dry and heal the spot as you go about your day – and thanks to a hydro-balancing complex, your skin will be kept hydrated throughout (unlike when you apply that moisture-zapping toothpaste).

You should never pluck above your eyebrows

The experts are in agreement that this myth is outdated – and that you can never achieve a tidy brow shape without breaking the rules.

‘Some will preach that you must never tweeze the hair above the eyebrow, only beneath,’ says brow expert Joey Healy. ‘But following this old myth will leave the brow shape looking unfinished.’

Celebrity make-up artist Rachel Wood adds: ‘If you’ve got awkward growth or rogue hair, I recommend that you pluck away. It’s important to think about the overall shape of the brow and what suits your shape. Brows will look half-done if the bottoms are nicely groomed and the tops are an overgrown mess.’


Try If in doubt, visit a salon for a professional shape. Keep things tidy at home with a good-quality pair of tweezers, such as Wow by Wojooh Yes Tweeze (Dh30,

Chocolate causes spots

This one goes a long way back, as it was widely believed until the 1960s that acne sufferers had an impaired tolerance of glucose, and that therefore chocolate should be avoided at all costs. In fact, textbooks were written in the 1940s and 1950s advising specifically against sugary food and drink as part of the recovery process – and chocolate was picked out as one of the main offenders. It wasn’t until a big study on the subject came out in 1969 that the myth was busted – and chocoholics everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.

International make-up artist Susan Posnick says: ‘It’s an old wives’ tale that chocolate causes spots. Yes, chocolate contains sugars, oils and flavourings, but these won’t cause breakouts. Genetics, hormones and stress are far more likely to be the cause.’

In fact, skincare expert Dr Nick Lowe encourages a daily dose. ‘Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants – great news for the skin.’


Try If your skin is prone to blemishes, swap to a lighter, mineral base so that your skin can breathe during the day. Art Deco Mineral Powder Foundation (Dh125, Paris Gallery) is ideal, promising long-lasting coverage with a high-quality mineral formula.

Shaving makes the hair grow back thicker – and darker

If you shave your legs, you will be familiar with the sensation of rough stubble when you run your hands over your skin a few days later. But does this mean that the hair is growing back thicker? And what about the fact that it can appear darker when the hair growth becomes visible?

No need to ditch your razor, as this is yet another beauty myth. ‘Shaving doesn’t make hair thicker,’ says Diane Wood, from cult shaving brand King of Shaves. ‘When you shave, you remove the thin tapered tip of the hair and leave only the thicker middle portion sticking out from the skin surface. The reason why the stubble feels stiffer is because it’s cut straight across, exposing the thickest part of the shaft.’

And on the subject of the hair growing back darker, waxing expert Ashley Taylor from NYC hair removal studio Spruce & Bond adds: ‘The same can be said for whether it causes hair to grow back darker. It appears that way because the hair is cut at a blunt angle as opposed to a fine point, so it can look like it’s darker when growing back in.’


Try Invest in a good razor to get the closest, smoothest shave, which will ward off regrowth for a little bit longer. It’s hard to beat the efficiency of Gillette Venus Embrace (Dh47.50, supermarkets nationwide), with no less than five blades to get as close as possible to the surface of the skin.

Oily skin types should avoid oily skincare products

Unlike a lot of the myths in this feature, we can understand this one. After all, if your sebaceous glands are overproducing oil and your face feels extra greasy, adding more oil on top can seem like madness. But once again, the experts are in agreement that there is a lot of science behind oil being used on oil.

In fact, top dermatologist Eve Lom developed her entire skincare range on this premise. ‘My Eureka moment came when I realised that the best way to treat an oily complexion was with an oil-based cleanser, as oil breaks the natural skin oil and really gets rid of all the toxins and dirt.’

In fact, by avoiding oil in skincare products, you could be encouraging the sebaceous glands in your skin to produce even more oil, as Paul Herrington, head of artistry at Bobbi Brown, explains: ‘If people with oily complexions use products that strip the skin of oil – often a common request for this skin type – the skin believes it is drying out and keeps producing sebum.’


Try If you are prone to oily skin, replace your night cream with a facial oil to regulate sebum production as you sleep. Rodial Stemcell Super-Food Facial Oil (Dh395, is a great choice, with a blend of antioxidants and vitamins A, B5, C and E to replenish nutrients in the skin.

Louise Emma Clarke

Louise Emma Clarke