Scroll through social media, and you’re likely to find dozens of videos with titles like “My Nightly Skincare Routine,” with influencers sharing elaborate, multi-step routines for cleansing and treating their skin. YouTube has thousands of makeup tutorials, with some artists showing how to create looks using 20 to 30 products. Even if you aren’t an influencer or online beauty guru, there’s a good chance that you have multiple products in your medicine cabinet, all promising to give you clear, glowing, ageless skin.
But is it really necessary to use dozens of products at once in an attempt to achieve perfect skin? One of the biggest trends in skincare says no. There’s an increasing backlash against complex skincare and makeup routines in favor of simpler, targeted treatments and natural looks that reveal real skin, with pores, blemishes, texture, wrinkles, and all. Skinimalism, a play on minimalism, focuses on using the minimum number of products possible for the maximum benefit to your skin.
Skinimalism isn’t about creating perfect, airbrushed, or retouched skin, but it doesn’t mean sacrificing a glowing and healthy-looking complexion either. It’s focused on simplicity and beneficial ingredients and habits, and quality over quantity.
How Does Skinimalism Work?
Skiminalism is focused on simplicity. Rather than using a cocktail of cleansers, toners, creams, serums, masks, and treatments, it can be distilled down to three key elements: Cleansing and refreshing, treating, and protecting.
For example, one skinimalist routine might involve using a gentle, exfoliating cleanser that contains AHA or BHA to whisk away dead skin cells and impurities from the skin. This is followed by a targeted treatment to address your individual skin needs; for instance, you might apply a toner with salicylic acid to clear up acne and blackheads. Treatment is followed by protection, in the form of a moisturizer and sunscreen.
By choosing products that do double duty, such as a moisturizer that contains sunscreen, it’s easy to pare down your routine while still giving your skin TLC.
Skinamalism can extend beyond basic skincare, as well. Instead of a full face of makeup involving foundation, concealer, contouring, highlighting, and a host of other products, skinimalists embrace natural and “no makeup” looks that enhance their features, rather than cover up perceived flaws and imperfections.
Benefits of Skinimalism
Switching to a skinimalist routine can be beneficial to your skin. As Elle MacLeman, our inhouse biochemist and skincare specialist discusses, dermatologists report that many of their patients’ skin problems are exacerbated by using multiple products.
Complicated regimens, especially when they include the wrong products, can damage the skin and disrupt its pH balance. This can leave it susceptible to a host of ailments, including redness, dryness, and acne. With a less complex routine and more focus on using the most beneficial products and ingredients, it can be easier to achieve healthy skin.
A glowing, dewy complexion isn’t the only benefit of going minimalist with your skincare routine, though.
High-end skincare systems can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Even purchasing many less-expensive products can add up. A single serum with one specific ingredient might only be several dollars, but when you purchase multiple serums, you could be spending as much or more than a single product that contains the same ingredients in one formula.
Purchasing a few products that provide multiple benefits is a more sustainable practice than filling your shelves with tubes, jars, and bottles. Even if you recycle the empty containers, the act of producing the products and their packaging uses resources and creates waste — and if you don’t use all of the product, which is common, you create even more waste.
Use of Hybrid Products
Skinimalism encourages the use of multipurpose or hybrid products. Not only is this a timesaver; it can be better for your skin. Applying a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, for instance, ensures your skin is protected from the sun’s harmful rays, helps prevent skin dehydration, and can help promote an even, glowing complexion. Using high-quality sunscreen as a daily-wear lotion can help protect your skin.
How Does Skinimalism Affect the Beauty Industry?
Skinimalism may be gaining momentum, but that doesn’t mean makeup artists need to pack up their brushes and call it a day. According to Pinterest Predicts 2021, “natural everyday makeup” is one of the most searched terms on the site, indicating that consumers are still interested in using cosmetics, but the idea of a full face of makeup is falling out of fashion.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in the rise of skinimalism. McKinsey & Company reports that sales of makeup declined significantly in 2020. Lip products alone have seen a 15% decrease in sales since the pandemic began, while sales of eye and face products have also declined.
Self-care and DIY products, though — especially skin, hair, and nail care — have seen increases in sales over the last year. Analysts predict the cosmetics industry will be slow to recover post-pandemic. Thanks to the increased number of people working from home, and the need to keep physical distance and wear masks, many consumers simply don’t feel the need to purchase and use cosmetics as much as they did pre-COVID.
However, McKinsey also reports that the overall trends in beauty have become even more intertwined with a sense of well-being, and standards have changed to become more inclusive and globally influenced. Skinimalism plays into all of these trends, focusing more on wellness, acceptance, and body positivity than striving for perfection.
Tips to Create a Skinimalist Regimen
Skincare routines are personal, and the best routine for your complexion may not be the same as someone else’s. Still, by following a few basic guidelines, you can curate a selection of products and develop a routine that works for your skin and gives you a healthy, glowing appearance without a lot of fuss.
Focus on three primary steps: Cleanse, balance or treat, and protect. Choose a facial cleanser that removes impurities without stripping natural oils. The right formulation depends on your skin type. If you have dry, irritated skin, for example, a cleansing lotion or cream can be soothing and gentle, whereas oily, acne-prone skin may benefit from a foaming cleanser.
Look for products that contain as few ingredients as possible (fewer ingredients means fewer opportunities for reactions) and avoid cleansers that contain physical exfoliants like crushed walnut shells, which can be abrasive and too harsh for your skin.
The next step is to use a toner or treatment tailored to your skin’s unique needs. The best toners are those that give your skin extra nutrients and help the rest of your regimen work better. Avoid toners labeled as “astringent,” as they typically contain drying alcohol. Instead, look for ingredients that will help address issues you have with your skin. Hyaluronic acid boosts hydration, while AHA and BHA toners help remove dead skin cells to clear pores and reduce dullness. Vitamins E and C are also beneficial in toners, offering protection against free radicals.
Finally, moisturize and protect your skin. Even if you have oily skin, moisturizing is a must to keep skin hydrated and prevent water loss. As we age, the skin naturally loses the ability to hold moisture, so it’s important for all ages and skin types to moisturize daily.
Like cleaners, the best type of moisturizer depends on your skin type. Oily skin benefits from gel moisturizers, while the best moisturizers for dry skin are thicker creams. Sensitive skin may be best suited by a balm, which can soothe irritation while locking in hydration. Regardless of skin type, look for a moisturizer that contains sunscreen to provide further protection and streamline your routine.
Developing an effective skincare routine, no matter how many products you use, takes time. It can take up to six weeks for products to make a difference in your skin’s appearance and texture, so consistency and patience are key. When you put in the work, though, you’ll have a complexion you can be proud to show off.