HOW TO EMBRACE MINIMALIST SKINCARE TO SAVE YOUR FACE
I'm a skincare freak.
I'm not ashamed to admit that: I've been the victim of skincare hoarding. I'd have cabinets full of product, often the same type by different brands!
It was mostly my growing desperation to deal with my moody, uncooperative skin. In any case, I wasted a lot of time, and money, on skincare I didn't need.
WE ALL COULD USE SOME PAIRING DOWN
If you're already practicing a limited skincare routine, I applaud you. For the rest of us, let's work on getting rid of the junk and start letting our skin breathe.
Practicing a minimalist skincare routine helps our skin stay smooth and beautiful. Too many face products can actually clog our pores, over-strip our skin, irritate it, and cause other kinds of nastiness we're trying to avoid in the first place:
what minimalist skincare isn't.
When I say minimalist, I don't mean a cabinet full of dust bunnies and one lonely bottle of moisturizer. I mean taking the time to investigate what works, and valuing a simpler, targeted, and dedicated skincare routine that saves you time, money, and breakouts.
For the bare bones, you should probably own a makeup remover (if applicable), face wash, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Treatments and specialty products such as serums, exfoliants, and masks are excellent additions (and you probably should have them), but all items in your routine should be selected sparingly and with care.
Minimalist skincare also doesn't mean you have to use the same products until the end of time, or that you can't buy anything new. My products and the amount I use vary between season and skin condition. I also continue to experiment with what works and doesn't work for my skin.
If you decide that ten or even more products are what you need for your skin to achieve optimum health, then go for it. Minimalism isn't about restrictions: it's about making conscious choices about what we possess and do with our lives.
Let's get started.
HELLO: I'M YOUR SKIN. WE HAVEN'T MET.
First thing's first: get to know your skin. Is it sensitive? Oily? Dry? In between? All of the above? Having an understanding of the way your skin behaves serves as the foundation for deciding which selection of products you should keep.
A great place to look for help? Pinterest. Not kidding. Step-by-step-guides galore on figuring out your skin type (hey! I've got a board about skin + haircare just for you!). I would suggest also visiting a local spa: most of them employ aestheticians who would be more than happy to give you a brief, and free, consultation.
They'll often give you product or ingredient suggestions: DON'T BUY ANYTHING ON THE SPOT. Thank them for their time, but don't feel pressured to purchase their recommendations. You'll want to do your own research before making your final purchases.
You might also want to bring your own list of questions when consulting a skincare professional, and then make a list of what you learned to have handy when fact-checking and searching for products.
(There's a cool article about the questions you should ask an aesthetician. Read it here.)
making the first product cuts
One aspect of minimalism is learning to value what you have. This means starting with your current skincare collection, and supplementing with a new product only when what you own doesn't fit the bill.
Here's how you can work on making your first product cuts:
After you've got your skin type down, go through your skincare products and nix anything that threatens your face's way of life.
When it comes to figuring out which products aren't goo for your skin, the internet is your best friend. Familiarize yourself with each ingredient you don't know by popping it into the web.
My favorite search phrase is: (ingredient) in skincare. This will generally bring up articles on the ingredient's safety and reviews on products with that ingredient.
I can get you started. Two major product ingredient no-no's right off the bat:
alcohol and fragrance
- Specifically: Ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol (from AnnMarie Gianni)
Both drying alcohols and artificial fragrance have been shown to cause irritation and even allergic reactions. Alcohol in the forms above penetrate active ingredients into your skin by destroying your skin's natural barrier. It may be effective at first, but it'll actually make your skin worse in the long run.
FINAL PRODUCT CUTS/HOW TO FIGURE OUT WHICH PRODUCTS TO KEEP
So you've made your first cuts, and now you're onto the final round.
If you're anything like me, you get a bit emotional when making product cuts. A few tears may even be shed. Courage, woman. Courage.
Here's how you move towards your minimalist skincare collection:
This is important: before you can test a product's efficacy, you need to start with a simple, clean face.
If you've already been using too much face product, then it's hard to tell which may be causing your face grief. You'll need to go through them one by one.
A good way to do this is patch testing: resort to your basic face wash and moisturizer, but apply different products on small, individual sections of your face. Monitor the results for a few days and see which ones work better or worse.
Now that you've done some experimenting, you'll probably come up with three piles of product:
damn this product is my face's bff
Keep it, love it. Enough said.
i'm not sure if this product is working
Most products need time to work, and your skin needs time to adjust. This means that you might not be sure at first if it's working for your skin, but patience is key.
If a product isn't exactly perfect from the start, but matches most of the requirements you're looking for, keep it for the next few months. This is your maybe pile. Give it time: products can take anywhere from 24 hours to 8 weeks to show real improvements.
My rule of thumb is a month: if there's absolutely no change or a change for the worst, then out of your vanity/bathroom/fridge it goes.
this product is a spawn from hell
It's got to go.
You don't have to throw bad products out. If you can donate or give slightly used product away, that's fantastic. If you've still got the receipt and it's not past the return date, take it back.
WHEN SHOULD YOU BUY NEW PRODUCT?
If you've got a big maybe pile and unless you're missing a specific product (like eye cream), I'd hold off on purchasing new products until you've run the gauntlet with what you already have.
I'd suggest when you do go to buy, limit your purchase to one new product: it takes time for your skin to get used to the new, and if you use several new products at once and have a reaction (good or bad), you won't know what's working and what's not.
1. Check out my Pinterest board to start getting to know your skin (and hair).
3. Talk to a local skincare specialist for deeper information and recommendations about your specific skincare concerns. Here's that nifty article again.
4. Research, research, research! You always want to fact-check advice and recommendations, and see what other product options are out there for you.
5. Make the cuts within your own stash. Keep a maybe pile and test out those products for a month or so before making your final decisions.
FURTHER READING: HOW TO EMBRACE MINIMALIST WITH YOUR MAKEUP
Do you practice a minimalist skincare routine?