2020 gave us a LOT of things that we can happily leave in the past, but one skincare trend to emerge out of the murk last year seems to have won a permanent place in skincare consumers heart’s…skin minimalism.
What exactly is “skin minimalism”?
While there is no exact definition , the skin minimalism trend is more a rebuke of the idea that perfect skin comes only with complicated 12 step routines (no shade if that lights you up). Ironically it appears that when we were all at home, finally faced with endless time to embrace allll the steps we’ve been told we should be attempting, we instead ruthlessly edited our collections down to the real workhorses, choosing multi tasking products that did more with less effort. The results across the board were reports of glowing, gorgeous skin with less time, products, effort and money, a win all around!
Could it be that all the extra steps were actually causing irritations, product aversions and GASP making us need MORE products to fix those issues, causing an endless cycle of product pile up?? I dove into this head first after a crazy neck and jawline rash threatened to spoil my first vacation of the year.
I had been testing some gorgeous, EXPENSIVE, and drool worthy skincare that I had my eye on for quite some time. As the rash grew larger, creeping up my neck onto my jaw line, I texted a friend who also happens to be a brand founder and asked what they thought I should do. Their response: STOP EVERYTHING and pare down to the essentials.
While it sounds funny now, I stumbled to try to remember what my “essentials” truly are, I test SO many new products (all in the name of research for YOU) that I realized it had been some time since I had used just my straight forward, never fail, products. I cut out all the fancy lotions and potions, even the new firming and lifting ones I was so excited for. Gone were the eye serums, the neck creams and the peel off masks. In their place were four products I use in multiple ways that I stuck with for a month and was rewarded with clear, glowing, calm skin.
How do I find “the ones” for my own routine?
Just like purging an overflowing closet, editing your skincare collection to find the all stars can feel overwhelming. Here are 5 quick tips and my tried and true product recommendations for all skin types. Let me know in the comments if you have a skincare favorite that you reached for over and over again that should make this list!
Think “Fab Four”! For some people skin minimalism might mean whittling down to just two products, and that’s wonderful! I’ve found that on average most people need and feel most confident with the essential four steps: Cleanse, Tone, Repair & Protect. Once you get those core four products down that deliver amazing results with NO irritations, then you can add from there as needed.
Clean Smarter ! Choose cleansers that can multitask as flash masks or exfoliators. My personal go to for the past 4 years has been the Maya Chia Great Cleanse. This calming cleansing oil is unrivaled in my opinion and I must be on close to my 10th bottle. I tell the story all the time that even after I had given birth (laboring for THREE days!) and could barely stand, I hobbled over to use this cleanser as it makes me feel so good on every level. When my skin is dehydrated I also leave this on a minute or two in the warm shower and my skin feels so plump afterwards! If you like more of an exfoliating factor, Pleni Naturals Cleansing Oil with Papaya extract doubles as a gorgeous flash mask to bring radiance without the irritation and Osmia Organics Gentle Mud Cleanser works double duty as a quick detoxifying mask and blemish buster thanks to it’s activated charcoal and honey if left on a couple minutes before rinsing. Remember the goal is minimal product but MAXIMAL results.
Time to Tone! This one can be a bit polarizing with some in the camp that toning is an unnecessary step. Frankly my skin freaks out if I skip the step of a toner or essence so I use this step for hydrating as well by picking a toner packed with hyaluronic acid. My husband and I both adore the Indie Lee CoQ10 toner this time of year (another product I must have gone through a dozen of by now and always have backs up in the house). For those with sensitive skin Tracie Martyn Absolute Purity Toner is genius at keeping skin clear with azelaic acid (also great at reducing redness in overly sensitive skin) plus is packed with antioxidants like white tea and oliv leaf to protect.
Double Up! Find serums that pack a double (or triple) whammy. Yes skin minimalism is about minimizing the amount of products you use, but that doesn’t mean the products have to be bare bones (however if you are having a reaction to something it can be good to cut back on too many actives). Choose ingredients that are complimentary to each other and tackle more than one issue. I absolutely love True Botanicals Chebula Antioxidant Serum for the day. I have the comfort of knowing my skin is being protected by one of the world’s strongest antioxidant (click here to learn more about Chebula), AND it’s packed with skin soothing ingredients to keep my skin calm and happy even when the heat index is peaking at 109 degrees. At night I choose a serum that replenishes the hydration I lost during the day (even when you sweat all day the summer sun is still incredibly drying) and restores balance to my skin. My pick is Nini Organics Crimson Beauty thanks to it’s infusion of hibiscus flower extract, cucumber water and prebiotics.
Dont Neglect, or Forget to Protect ! The fourth product during the day should ALWAYS. and I mean ALWAYS, be sunscreen. I don’t care if it’s raining outside, sunscreen is your best friend in the fight against signs of aging! UVA (the rays that age us) penetrate clouds and simply don’t care if it’s sunny or a day full of thunderstorms. The UVA rays are much stronger in the summer due to our distance from the sun being lessened. My tip, keep your daily sunscreen next to your toothbrush so you don’t even have to think about applying, it just becomes a habit. With so many lightweight and amazing formulas on the market, you don’t have the excuse of not liking how it feels, these sunscreens are almost unnoticeable. When thinking “skin minimalism” choose one that also addresses a concern. If you’re prone to breakouts, look for ingredients to fight blemishes or exfoliate the skin (my go to is zinc based Elta MD Clear with lactic acid). If you’re on the drier side, look for nourishing ones that can double as your daily moisturizer (my absolute obsession is Honua Malu SPF 30 full of Hawaiian magic).
At night, simply swap this last step for repair. Whether it’s a face oil, cream or lotion the last thing to touch your skin in a minimal routine should be the heaviest. Even in summer I love a great face oil (even for oily skin types. Nothing signals summer better than the jasmine scented Moonlight Nectar Drops from Nini Organics. With the amazing power of plum oil (popularized by celeb favorite lines such as le prunier) plus squalene oil & sea buckthorn this nourishes and replenishes your skin so you wake up absolutely glowing. Other great picks are the Triple Active Reclaiming serum from January Labs (great for my retinol lovers) , Ranavat Eternal Reign or Osmia Vital Nectar for someone that loves a little more nourishing texture. All of these pack a restive super power next to hydrating goodness, giving maxium results with little effort.
What about all of my other products?
I’m not saying to throw away your eye creams, dozens of masks (oh is that just me that has a collection that’s grown a little crazy) or spot treatments. Simply that sometimes less really is more. Skin minimalism will look different for everyone and for some it might just be a reset approach that they do for a month to calm their skin down and then they dive back into their dozen other steps they love , NO JUDGEMENT HERE. I did find it interesting to explore my own feelings during this time of my own pared back routine. The temptation to try other things the minute my skin cleared was definitely there, and to be honest I’ll be cautiously introducing a few new things because someone’s got to the test all these gorgeous potions for you! However the huge lesson I relearned for my own skin is that too much, is too much! My skin really does like simple, it’s not a fan of a lot of different essential oils, too many active or too many exfoliants.
And for anyone wondering what triggered my own reactions, I learned that I’m sensitive to bergamot (who would have guessed?).