You'd better be sitting down because I may be about to blow your mind. Just when you thought everything was about serums, creams, and masks, along comes a skincare trend that turns the beauty industry on its head. Instead of encouraging you to buy more and more products, a new fad is giving you the chance to strip back your routine. But what is skin fasting?
Have you ever felt exhausted by the number of things that you're supposed to be applying to your skin each and every day? Have you ever felt like some of those products do very little for your skin? Have you ever just dreamed of a lazier life?
I can answer yes to all three. In fact, for the past year or so, I have cut out 90 percent of my skincare rituals, sticking to a standard moisturiser, cleanser, and occasional face mask. And my skin has never looked or felt better. That isn't to say that every person will experience the same effect, but it's the working theory behind the skin fasting movement.
An online search appears to date the term back to 2011. "Our skin has an inherent ability to take care of itself, when given the chance to do so," wrote Japanese skincare brand Mirai Clinical. "The Japanese have studied the skin’s regeneration on a monthly basis and have proved that ‘skin fasting’ improves your skin’s condition and [detoxifies] skin impurities."
Consultant dermatologist Dr. Justine Hextall recently explained the concept further, telling Refinery29: "The idea [of skin fasting] is that by leaving skin treatments, particularly moisturiser, off the skin, the skin produces its own oil and natural moisturising factors. If we over-cleanse the skin this can remove natural oils and ceramides (essentially lipids, holding the skin together) which are integral to a healthy skin barrier."
Although there seems to be no scientific evidence to support this, personal stories suggest there may be some truth. A Man Repeller writer cut out almost her entire skincare routine for a week. She experienced itchiness and dryness, but ultimately realised that she "was unwittingly using skincare to mask dehydration." Her motto at the end of it? Just drink more water. The Refinery29 experimenter, however, felt a little different. Her skin may have been glowing after going teetotal, but it felt "grimy."
Trying skin fasting once may be the key. A good time to start, according to Woman & Home, is when the season changes. Try it for two to three weeks and see how you get on. If you miss spending some quality time with your face, there's no shame in going back to old times. But if you realise that products you had felt so reliant on are perhaps not so worthwhile, then you've saved yourself some cash.
As Dr. Hextall told Refinery29, avoid skin fasting if you're undergoing treatments for active conditions like acne or eczema as you may well benefit from additional moisturising. Mirai Clinical lays out some extra guidelines. Wash your face using only lukewarm water, drink plenty of water, and, if you're struggling, try going one or two nights a week without outside help.
The Outline may have proclaimed that skincare is a "con," but the subsequent backlash to such a statement proved that a skincare routine can be vitally therapeutic for women. I suppose it comes down to whether you feel pressurised into purchasing the latest 'It' product. Or whether you feel your current daily drill is no longer sparking joy. If so, skin fasting may be the breath of fresh air you've been waiting to inhale.
Either way, it's your preference. And that is the beauty of a so-called trend.