We live in an age of excess, and our skin shows it, says New York dermatologist Elaine Kung, MD. “We are bombarded with digital skincare and beauty advice, and with the ease of e-commerce, people have started buying and using a plethora of beauty and personal care products,” she explains. “Adopting complicated regimens or using the wrong products can damage the skin barrier, disrupt its pH balance, or acid mantle.” Dr. Kung believes in skin minimalism, a philosophy that emphasizes simplicity by using only a minimal number of products and focusing on high-quality ingredients.
“The goal is to simplify your skincare routine and reduce the amount of time, money, and effort you spend on your skin while still achieving healthy, glowing skin,” she says. “Using the wrong products or overtreating your skin can cause problems like redness, dryness, rashes, and acne. It’s easier to achieve healthier skin with a less complex routine that focuses on using the most beneficial products and ingredients for one’s skin.”
The benefits of skin minimalism include reduced exposure to potential irritants, better absorption of products, and a reduced risk of over exfoliation. “The three main tenets of skin minimalism are: cleanse, prevent or treat, and protect the skin,” explains Dr. Kung.
Paring Down Products
When you use too many products, Dr. Kung notes that the active ingredients in each product may not be able to penetrate the skin effectively. By using fewer products, your skin can more easily absorb the active ingredients in each product. Another issue that may arise is that sometimes ingredients in one product may negate or even deactivate ingredients in another product. You’ll also notice an improved barrier function that helps protect against moisture loss, environmental toxins, and other harmful substances, she says. “Using skincare based on science means using products that contain active ingredients that have been scientifically and clinically proven to be beneficial to the skin. The tried-and-true ingredients like SPF, vitamin C and E, polypeptides, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides are beneficial for all skin types. These are the ingredients that prevent, treat, and repair the skin barrier.”
Overall, skin minimalism can be a great approach for anyone looking to simplify their routine and promote healthier, more radiant skin, adds Dr. Kung. “The days of the overly complicated 10-step beauty routine are over. In addition to skin minimalism, skincare cycling is also trending. This practice involves rotating skincare products to prevent them from irritating our skin or negating each other’s effectiveness due to their chemical formulations.”
Dr. Kung adds that it’s important to remember that every individual’s skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. “It’s always a good idea to speak with a board-certified dermatologist to determine the best approach for your specific skin type and concerns.”