Medical Review By: Heather Brew, PA-C
Sometimes less is more. Maybe we don’t need to hide our skin under makeup or follow a complicated skin care regimen involving a dozen different products. That’s the thinking behind skinimalism, a minimalist approach to skin care and makeup.
What exactly is skinimalism?
“I think it’s about going back to the basics when caring for your skin, but also loving your skin and how it is in everyday life,” said Heather Brew, a board-certified physician assistant at Water’s Edge Dermatology. “I think it’s avoiding multiple products and layers of makeup, and being true to your authentic self.”
That all sounds well and good, and easier on the piggybank to boot, but how can you feel comfortable enough in your skin to pare down your beauty routine and kiss the heavy foundation goodbye? Brew offered these tips.
Go back to the big three
Start by going back to basics. A basic skincare routine involves exactly three products: a facial cleanser, a moisturizer and sunscreen.
The cleanser removes dirt, makeup and oil and helps keep breakouts at bay. The moisturizer minimizes water loss, which protects skin from irritants in the environment. Broad-spectrum sunscreen guards against UV damage that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer. (Brew likes zinc and titanium as active ingredients.)
To fight free radicals caused by sun exposure, also consider a cream or serum containing vitamin C. “I personally like to use a vitamin C serum first and apply my moisturizer on top, then sunscreen,” said Brew. When it comes to vitamin C, she noted, “You don’t need much.”
From there, you can add products designed to address specific issues that bother you — but there’s value in not going overboard.
“With too many skin care products, we worry about ingredients interacting, and we worry about irritation,” said Brew.
Signs your skin care routine might be overly elaborate include dryness, redness or burning. “Often, patients come in and I say, ‘You’re really irritated, what are you using?’ and they list 20 things. I say, ‘Let’s start from the basics again. Let’s start with one product at a time to figure out what works best for you.”
Brew likens using too many skin care products to taking too many medications: Not only are interactions an issue, but some people get overwhelmed and use them incorrectly.
In other cases, she noted, using a multitude of products does work. “Some people do great with a lot of products, as long as they know what they’re used for and how to use them.”
Zero in on your skin issues
If you’re concealing your skin because of acne, rosacea, discoloration or some other issue, talk to a qualified skin care provider about what products and treatments to try.
The provider can suggest over-the-counter or prescription topicals that gradually smooth the skin’s texture and improve acne, acne scars and hyperpigmentation (dark spots), three common reasons women wear foundation.
A vitamin C serum, for example, may be ideal for overall texture issues, hyperpigmentation, age spots and fine lines. Prescription glycolic acid or hydroquinone products are used to fight more serious hyperpigmentation. Creams, cleansers, wipes and sprays containing salicylic acid can make pores appear smaller. Certain topicals work to tamp down rosacea symptoms.
A provider can also suggest in-office treatments to help your skin look better bare. A chemical peel, for example, makes skin smoother and softer while minimizing the look of fine lines and brown spots. “Chemical peels have come a long way in the last few years,” said Brew. Multiple strengths let you choose how aggressive you want to be.
Laser treatments are another option for diminishing wrinkles, discoloration and scars and reducing the appearance of pores. Laser treatment for rosacea is often effective for persistent redness and visible veins.
Get a natural glow
Why use makeup that gives you the look of glowing skin when you can have glowing skin for real?
Start by keeping your skin well moisturized and choosing your moisturizer wisely. A moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid can plump the skin and give you a fresh, dewy look. Or add a few drops of a hyaluronic acid serum to your regular moisturizer.
Vitamin C, green tea and caffeine are other go-to ingredients. This soothing green tea and witch hazel mist can refresh tired-looking skin and soothe irritation, including irritation from wearing a face mask (wash your face after removing the mask). This multitasking moisturizer, which contains green tea, caffeine and the antioxidant resveratrol, is helpful for calming inflammation as well as diminishing the look of fine lines and pores.
If a healthy glow is your main objective, also consider a chemical peel.
Remember, the goal of skinimalism isn’t flawless skin, it’s natural-looking skin you feel good about.
“People do have imperfections, but we can work through them,” said Brew. “There are ways to make you feel better about your skin besides covering it with makeup.”
Finally, resist the urge to try every product getting raves on social media. “There are many influencers suggesting different products, and a lot of times they’re getting paid to do it,” said Brew. “Just because a product is trending doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.”
Article Written By: Marianne Wait, an award-winning health and wellness writer based in New Jersey.