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What Is ‘Skinimalism’? Why You May Want to Pare Down Your Skincare Routine, According to a Derm

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We’re spending so much time at home (hello, sweats every day) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has pushed many of us to take a step back and minimize our daily routines—including our beauty routines. Enter “skinimalism,” which is exactly what it sounds like: a movement towards minimalism in skincare (and by extension, beauty as a whole).

“I love the concept behind this movement,” says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “I see it as a backlash against the unattainable standards that so many people are holding themselves to.” And he’s right: Long, intricate skincare routines are wonderful, but using more beauty products doesn’t always mean better results. Now, more and more people are embracing shorter routines—because if skincare is self-care, why complicate it? If you’re intrigued by the idea of a toned-down skincare philosophy, keep reading to find out everything there is to know about the skincare movement called skinimalism.

About the Expert:

Joshua Zeichner, MD is a New York City-based dermatologist. He is the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

What is “skinimalism”

Although the name is fairly self-explanatory, it’s worth a deeper dive before you up and change your skincare regimen. “Skinimalism is a trend where people are using minimal skincare products to care for skin health, but not hiding your natural appearance,” explains Zeichner. In other words, the focus is on getting back to the basics of caring for the skin and skin barrier, as opposed to Instagram-friendly bells and whistles.

“In this age of social media, so much of what we are seeing are filter images rather than reality,” adds Zeichner. And after years of airbrushing away breakouts, fine lines, and any other perceived skin “imperfections,” skinimalism welcomes back natural texture with open arms (pause for applause!).

What skinimalism is not, however, is one-size-fits-all skincare. It’s still just as important to customize your routine for your skin type, and to use different products depending on time of day—adding in SPF in the morning and extra hydration at night, for example.

Reasons to opt for a minimal skincare routine

“10-step beauty regimens are time-consuming, expensive, and don’t necessarily work better than a simple routine,” says Zeichner. And while it can be tempting to try every buzzy new product out there, it’s better to hone in on the ingredients and formulas that benefit your skin. “We need to be focusing on what our skin really needs and not wasting time, money, or energy on products or ingredients that have false marketing claims,” according to the derm.

What should go into a minimalist skincare routine

“When I design a routine for my patients, I try to keep it as simple as possible,” says Zeichner. Start with three steps—cleanse, protect, and hydrate—and add on from there if you want or need to. Below is the derm’s recommended starter routine, for day and night:

Morning routine: First, wash your face with a gentle yet effective cleanser. “Then, protect it from the environment. I typically recommend an antioxidant serum followed by sunscreen,” says Zeichner. We love a good vitamin C serum, which helps prevent free radical damage and brightens skin.

Nighttime routine: “The evening is a time of repair and hydration. After washing your face, apply a moisturizer,” says Zeichner. Then, if you want an anti-aging boost, “follow with a collagen-stimulating ingredient like retinol or a hydroxy acid,” says the derm.

Minimalist skincare considerations by skin type

Once you have your basic routine in place, you can—and should—adapt it to fit your skin type. “The specific products you use can be tailored to your specific needs, whether you have dry, oily, or sensitive skin,” says Zeichner. Here are a few add-ons to consider:

Acne-prone skin: Choose products that contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help treat and prevent breakouts, or add in a spot treatment for the occasional pimple.

Dry skin: Be sure to use an ultra-hydrating moisturizer, or perhaps add in a hyaluronic acid serum to prevent dryness.

Oily skin: While toner isn’t a must for all skin types, those with oily skin might find it a non-negotiable—even in the most minimal of routines.

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About the author
Lindy Segal
Lindy is a contributor at IPSY, a beauty and lifestyle writer, and Real Housewives aficionado. She was an editor at People and Glamour, and her freelance work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Who What Wear, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated February 10, 2021 12:00 AM