Have you heard about Skinimalism? Or maybe the skincare diet? And no, I am not talking about the effects of your diet on your skin (More info: Does your food affect your acne?), I am talking about reducing the amount of skincare products you consume.
Figuratively speaking, obviously, don’t eat our creams.
Despite the amount of products I review on here, I am a fan of keeping my actual routine as simple as possible, and today we are going to talk about why I think this is a good idea and why it can actually be just what you need to do for healthy and glowing skin.
Disclaimer – skincare should be fun!
First of course the necessary disclaimer: Skincare is highly individual, so what might work for me might not work for you and, most importantly, skincare is a form of self care and should be fun. If a face mask is just what you need to unwind after a stressful week, don’t let me stop you!
But despite the amount of products I review on this blog, contradicting my own advice here, adapting a minimalist skincare routine is what I actually recommend to most people asking for advice.
Why Skinimalism is better for your skin barrier
One of my earliest successful blogposts was on the topic of the damaged skin barrier as reason for acne and eczema (More info: Damaged skin barrier), and I still stand by what I said back then: Apart from genetic reasons, the biggest threat to our skin barrier are our consumer habits.
Our skin’s main function is providing a barrier against the outside world, and to do that it has an intricate acid mantle, a protective layer of dead skin cells and a carefully curated homeostasis of different lipids, including our sebum, and bacteria, called the microbiome (More info: Skin microbiome and products that target it).
These three things are no longer threatened by environmental factors like UV radiation, pollution and “bad bacteria” only, no, with brands like The Ordinary or The Inkey List making each skincare ingredient available at an affordable price, we constantly attack our skin with a cocktail of “actives” in the highest concentration possible, cleansing off every little bit twice a day, maybe even with special tools and, while in the process, change our products more often than our underwear. (More info: Is Double Cleansing good for you?)
This is of course exaggerated, and you guys know how much I love both The Inkey List and The Ordinary (you can find mnay reviews just by typing their name in the search bar), but when I sometimes see the routines people ask me advice on in my DMs, my face starts to itch just by looking at the sheer amount of products listed.
Use actives targeted at your main skin concern, don’t mix them all into one routine and don’t fall into the trap of thinking the higher percentage the better.
The key points here are
- Your skin needs its oils, don’t cleanse them all away.
- Your skin needs its dead skin cells, as they form the skin barrier, so don’t overexfoliate.
- Your skin needs the right percentage of actives, not the highest possible. For Vitamin C for example anything more than 20% won’t bring additional benefits anyway, just increase the risk of irritation.
A tell-tale sign that you have overdone it is when your skin gets red and irritated and products that used to be fine, like a hydrating serum, suddenly start to sting. If that is the case, go back to basics, which is gentle cleanse, sunscreen in the mornings and a moisturizer at night, and take the time it takes to heal to declutter your stash!
A quick word on product hopping: If you stick to the one Hyaluronic Acid Serum you love and repurchase or get a new one once you finished the first doesn’t really matter, what counts more is that you don’t constantly switch up your products with a different routine every night.
Why Skinimalism is better for the environment
With sustainability being on every brands marketing leaflet right now, it is important to remember that the most sustainable way is not to buy so much stuff, so in turn brands don’t produce so much stuff.
I definitely don’t practice what I preach here, as trying new products is part of what I do, but despite the amount of products I am sent I don’t have certain “categories” in my stash:
I rarely use face masks, so I don’t buy them.
I don’t like face oils, so you won’t find any on my shopping list, not even if a brand I love comes out with a new release.
I am on prescription Tretinoin, so you won’t find me buying strong exfoliants either, as a little bit of Salicylic Acid is all my skin can handle anyway. (More info: How to use Tretinoin with minimal irritation)
I basically have a Skincare Capsule Wardrobe, and my skin is so much happier than it was when I had strong exfoliants around because you “have to exfoliate at least once a week”. The only thing you have to do is cleanse and use sunscreen.
Skinimalism is better for your wallet
After spending 2019 tracking my beauty expenses in the form of a Beauty Low Buy, I realized how much money was literally going to waste because I bought products I neither needed nor used. And while I still spend way more money on products than the average person – again, that is what I do here – I am way more mindful about what I purchase.
I know I have the privilege of getting send stuff so I don’t have to buy it, so I might sound like a hypocrite, but if I didn’t have this channel, my beauty expenses would still be much lower than you’d expect.
The money saved can be invested – at my age I am all about retirement funds – or actually be invested in yourself. There is only so much topical skincare can do, so saving up for a professional treatment might be a good alternative in terms of results as well. (More info: Why skincare can only do so much)
So, what is a minimalist skincare routine?
That is entirely up to you.
I am not here to say: You only need X amount of products! How many steps your skin needs depends on your age, your lifestyle and your genetics.
I suffer from acne, so I need acne treatment – my sister doesn’t, so she could save that one step. My point is: If you need four different products, use four. Not ten, because some editor claimed that is what Korean women do, and also not one because I said Skinimalism is great!
Build a basic routine, identify your skin concerns and use actives to treat just that. And of course, face mask, jade roll or whatever else it is that brings you joy (More info: Jade Roller – Worth your money?).
And if you want to get a vote in the next Ask Doctor Anne Topic, Ingredient Spotlight or product I review, don’t forget you can head over to my Patreon account to get more involved!