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8 Acne Myths, Busted by Experts

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No matter your gender or how old you are, you’ve experienced some form of acne—and there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the condition. In honor of Acne Awareness Month, Mental Floss reached out to experts—Dr. Sandra Lee, a.k.a. Dr. Pimple Popper, creator of the SLMD Skincare Line; Vance Soto, President of Ole Henriksen Face/Body Spa; and Jennifer Yen, natural beauty expert and founder of pūrlisse—to separate fact from fiction.

1. MYTH: GREASY FOOD CAUSES ACNE.

"I tell my patients 'The only way greasy foods like pizza give you acne is if you rub it all over your face,'" Lee says. "Not many foods trigger acne, apart from in certain circumstances when food products contain hormones, such as cow's milk and cheese. In short: Be mindful of dairy if you are breakout prone, but other than that—this is a big myth!"

That said, the health of your body's largest organ is tied to your diet, according to Soto. "It’s so important to maintain a balanced diet of leafy green vegetables and drink plenty of water each day," he says. "Everything in life is about a healthy balance. Beauty starts on the inside, so what you eat and drink definitely plays a major role in the health of your skin."

2. MYTH: TANNING GETS RID OF ACNE.

It’s widely believed that tanning can dry out acne, and, says Yen, "exposure to sunlight can kill bad bacteria." But according to Lee, sun exposure makes acne worse, not better: "Sun exposure actually darkens pigmentation, making brown spots that appear after acne breakouts darker and more persistent," Lee says. "Exposing the skin to infrared heat from the sun can actually flare up acne." And, as Yen points out, that there are other potential consequences of tanning: Sun damage and skin cancer.

3. MYTH: WASHING YOUR FACE FREQUENTLY WILL PREVENT ACNE.

It seems logical: Acne is caused by bacteria on the skin, so washing your face until it's squeaky clean means you'll have clear skin. But our experts all agree that this isn’t so. "Over-washing your face, or scrubbing too hard, can make existing acne worse, or trigger a breakout," Yen says. Washing your skin too aggressively will actually make your skin create more sebum, which can cause more breakouts. Yen says that washing with a gentle cleanser (she likes pūrlisse's 4-in-1 Soy Milk Cleanser) in the morning and at night "is sufficient cleansing for acne prone skin."

When treating your skin, Lee advises using common sense: "Wash makeup, dirt, and sweat away before you go to bed, and if you feel your skin is greasy in the morning, wash it again! But don’t overdo it. Be gentle."

4. MYTH: SKIN IS OILIER IN THE SUMMER.

Even though your skin might look and feel like it's producing acne-creating oil on overtime during the summer months, that's not what’s actually happening: Yen says that being exposed to humidity and sweating is what's making your skin appear greasier.

"Our skin doesn't create more oil during the hotter months of the year, but we are likely to sweat more, which may make our skin feel more greasy and oily," Lee says. To keep oily skin under control, Lee recommends using salicylic acid-based cleaners. "Chemical peel ingredients such as this will encourage exfoliation of the skin, remove skin debris from within our pores, and help to clear up acne as well as prevent new acne from forming," she says. Her favorite is the Acne Cleanser from her SLMD line, which helps to tame acne and also minimizes brown spots.

And just because your skin is sweatier doesn't mean you shouldn't moisturize; Soto advises using lighter moisturizers like OLEHENRIKSEN's Sheer Transformation Perfecting Moisturizer.

5. MYTH: TOOTHPASTE IS THE IDEAL HOME REMEDY FOR GETTING RID OF ZITS.

Toothpaste with ingredients like menthol or mint will dry out a pimple, Lee says, and covering a pimple with something has the added benefit of reminding you to keep your hands off the bump: "If you don't pick a pimple, it will more likely resolve without scarring," she says.

But in some cases, toothpaste can overdry the skin—so there might be a better remedy to reach for. "Hemorrhoid cream can reduce redness and swelling associated with pimples," Lee says, "so reach for that over your toothpaste if you're looking for a home remedy!"

Soto had another recommendation: "I'd suggest taking a few drops of eucalyptus oil suspended into cold water and take your hand towel for some cold towel compresses,” he says. "The aroma is beautiful and we find wonderful results for eruptions."

6. MYTH: SUNSCREEN CLOGS YOUR PORES.

"The wrong kind of sunscreen can cause a chemical reaction on the skin, which can lead to acne," Lee says. So provided you pick the right sunscreen, you should be A-OK. "Look for ingredients that will not clog your pores, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide." Sunscreens marked "noncomedogenic"—which mean they're specially formulated not to block pores—will work best for acne-prone skin.

7. MYTH: ALL MAKEUP MAKES ACNE WORSE.

As with sunscreen, choosing the right kind of makeup makes all the difference. "Products that you put on your skin that are more 'occlusive' are thicker, and can clog your pores," Lee says. "Be ingredient savvy when it comes to anything you're putting on your skin, including makeup. Look for ingredients such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mica, bismuth oxychloride, and iron oxides (normally found in mineral makeup) which will offer coverage and won't clog pores—which in turn, will not aggravate acne." If you're acne-prone, Lee recommends avoiding creams and using lotions or serums instead, "because lotions and serums are water- or alcohol-based, whereas creams are oil-based and can more likely make acne worse."

8. MYTH: ACNE IS YOUR FAULT.

Lee says she hears this a lot, and she wants people know that "in general, acne is not your fault, and it's not really under your control. It is largely dependent upon hormones and genetics, which is why most of us have it the worst during our puberty years."

But just because you're not to blame for acne doesn’t mean you can't gain control over it: "In my opinion, the best way to do this is to understand it: What type of acne you have, what type of skin you have, what makes your acne better and what makes it worse," Lee says. "Learn why certain products are recommended by dermatologists. Know that retinoids like retinol help prevent blackheads and whiteheads and be able to recognize that you have this type of acne and therefore this specifically is a great treatment option for you. You can take control and learn how to treat your own acne."

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Steve Martin
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NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. And he's about to put a number of these talents on display with Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a new comedy special that just arrived on Netflix. To commemorate the occasion, here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. HE WAS A CHEERLEADER.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. HIS FIRST JOB WAS AT DISNEYLAND.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just two miles away from his house. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. HE OWES HIS WRITING JOB WITH THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS TO AN EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with Bob Einstein—better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. HE WAS A CONTESTANT ON THE DATING GAME.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS A SERIES REGULAR ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. 

6. HIS FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF HIS FIRST SNL APPEARANCE.

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. He also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. HE POPULARIZED THE AIR QUOTE.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. HE QUIT STAND-UP COMEDY IN THE EARLY 1980S.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. HE'S A MAJOR ART COLLECTOR.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. HE'S AN ACCOMPLISHED BLUEGRASS PERFORMER.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that he’s an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
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by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

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Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

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