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Anyone who’s trying to keep up with a multi-step skincare routine knows how time-consuming it can be.
Not to mention that many of these intricate routines don’t deliver the benefits they promise. In response, some people are shifting to a more minimalist approach.
If you’re wondering how to create a minimalist skin care routine, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we outline why the “skinimalism” movement has become so popular and how you can apply it to your own routine (or non-routine).
We’ve also included a list of skincare ingredient must-haves and tips for choosing the right products.
Many of us are all too familiar with skincare routines that incorporate several products and a long list of steps.
This approach to skincare became popular because it was widely believed that you needed a separate product to address each skin concern.
The skinimalism movement recognizes that skincare benefits aren’t always measured by the number of products you use.
Instead, it's the quality of the ingredients in the products that matters.
That’s why people who follow a minimalist approach to skincare only focus on using the most essential active ingredients for their skin’s needs.
Cutting down on the number of skincare products you use can improve your complexion and strengthen its natural protective barrier.
A minimalist approach to skincare also allows you to make more conscious choices about what you put on your face.
These aren’t the only good things about skinimalism. Let’s take a look at some of its other benefits.
If your face has ever felt tight or dry after your skincare routine, that’s probably a sign that you aren’t using the right products.
With so many options on the market, it’s easy to accidentally use products that are too harsh and overstrip your skin. In a multi-step routine, it can be difficult to identify which products your skin’s having a negative reaction to.
However, since you only use a few, essential products in a minimalist skincare routine, you’ll have a better chance of figuring out which ones cause negative side effects.
A minimalist routine helps you to make more informed decisions about the products and ingredients that work for your skin, and which ones to avoid.
Not only does this help improve your skin’s natural complexion, but it also ensures that you maintain its natural protective oils and moisture levels. Exposing your skin to fewer harsh products also gives it time to heal and repair from within to promote a more healthy complexion.
Layering on several skincare products might be causing a build-up of residue that can clog pores and harm the skin barrier. This is the outer layer of the skin that protects it from external damage like bacteria, free radicals, and UV radiation.
The skin barrier also needs to breathe to function optimally. If it can’t, the skin may produce more oil as it attempts to clear impurities. This can cause irritation and leave the skin more prone to breakouts and bacterial infections.
That’s why a minimalist skincare routine can help promote optimal skin health. By encouraging the use of a small number of skin-loving products, skinimalism helps clear your complexion by allowing your skin to function properly.
Using fewer products also limits the build-up of harmful residue, which makes it easier to keep your skin clean and healthy.
Not only are multi-step skincare routines often time-consuming and expensive to maintain, but the products also take up a lot of storage space.
Some dermatologists find that this actually discourages people from maintaining their skincare routine.
Although some skin conditions require a multi-step routine—especially in severe cases like cystic acne—most people’s skin responds better to fewer products. You’ll also save money by following a minimalist skincare routine because you won’t need to restock so many products.
As you start to cut down on skincare items, you’ll free up space and spend less time organizing and cleaning your shelves. Another “minimalist” quality!
While it may seem like ‘skinimalism’ is only for people who already have perfect skin, anyone can use this approach to their advantage.
If you’ve found yourself repeatedly skipping steps in your skincare routine, you might benefit from a minimalist approach. There’s a good chance that you’re not using all of your skincare products effectively if you skip multiple steps, which means they can’t benefit your complexion anyway.
A minimalist skincare routine is also a good option for people who notice that their skin doesn’t respond well to multi-step regimens or harsh products anymore.
This can happen to people who have acne, since breakouts often occur more regularly if you overly-cleanse the skin or use harsh, exfoliating products.
Thanks to skinimalism’s simplicity, it's easy to create and follow one of these skincare routines! It’s right in the name, in fact.
The easiest way to start is by identifying a skin concern or goal you want to focus on.
Some of these may include:
When you know what you want to achieve with your skincare routine, it becomes much easier to choose the right products.
You’ll also be able to see where you can cut products out or combine multiple beneficial ingredients into one.
For example, you could choose a moisturizer that contains SPF and other beneficial ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, instead of using three separate products.
To help you maintain optimal skin health, here are five products you might include in a minimalist skincare routine.
Every effective skincare routine should start with a good cleanser.
This is because cleansers are designed to remove impurities, build-up, and harmful bacteria to help maintain a healthy complexion.
The ‘skinimalism’ movement suggests finding one cleanser with active ingredients that can remove impurities without over-stripping the skin.
When choosing a cleanser for your new routine, look for a product that has multiple benefits but is gentle enough to use daily (or even twice a day).
Here are a few good ingredients to look for:
Not only are products that contain salicylic acid usually suitable for daily use, but they can also help by dissolving oil and dirt to clear pores, including makeup.
Salicylic acid is also intended to reduce some of the common side effects of acne, such as redness and swelling, as well as reducing the frequency of breakouts.
Glycolic acid is often used to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your complexion to leave it looking fresh and radiant.
By breaking the bonds between dead skin cells and the outer layer of the skin, glycolic acid is intended to smooth the complexion and help it appear more even.
This makes glycolic acid a good option for those with acne scars or uneven skin tone since it can improve the skin’s texture over time.
Hyaluronic acid is a moisturizing ingredient that can help keep the skin soft and moisturized.
It effectively removes dirt and oil from the skin while ensuring that it stays hydrated.
Hyaluronic acid is often used in a gentle cleanser to fight the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles since it stimulates the production of new skin cells.
The next step to achieving healthier skin is to use a moisturizer that combines a few important active ingredients to create a more targeted treatment.
A moisturizer should also help strengthen the skin barrier since it's your first line of defense against external damage.
Let’s take a look at a few effective ingredients your moisturizer might contain.
Niacinamide is a vitamin B3 derivative that helps to boost the cell turnover process, remove impurities, and improve skin texture.
Simply put, the cell turnover process is when new cells are produced and pushed to the skin's surface. This combats fine lines and wrinkles and helps the skin retain its firmness
The cell turnover process also removes dead cells from the skin’s surface which helps clear the pores and prevents breakouts.
Niacinamide can also strengthen and repair the skin barrier through hydration.
Azelaic acid has multiple benefits, especially for acne-prone skin. In addition to removing blemishes, it’s also used to reduce inflammation and fade dark spots.
When used in a moisturizer, azelaic acid is intended to soothe irritated or sensitive skin while minimizing the bacterial growth that often infects pores and causes acne. Depending on the concentration of azelaic acid, it can be a potent ingredient. However, it can still be used daily on any skin type without any adverse reactions.
Serums are great for targeting a few skin concerns within one potent product, allowing us to supercharge skincare results.
This is why dermatologists often recommend choosing a serum with an active ingredient like retinol or vitamin C. Although you shouldn’t use retinol and vitamin C simultaneously, they are great ingredients to look for due to their multiple skin benefits.
Vitamin C is an effective ingredient for maintaining the skin’s overall health because it strengthens and protects. It also promotes collagen production—a vital protein for maintaining a firm complexion—which helps skin repair external damage.
In addition, Vitamin C is used for managing and preventing hyperpigmentation.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that promotes the production of new skin cells to fight visible signs of aging and even heal long-time scars.
It can also help reduce puffiness, dark under-eye circles, and hyperpigmentation.
Although it’s a potent ingredient, even a low concentration of retinol—like 0.25%—can be effective for skin health. Prescription retinoids like tretinoin can be great for many people, too.
Applying sun protection (SPF) every day is one of the most effective ways to protect the skin and help it maintain a youthful appearance.
When choosing a sunscreen, make sure you look for one with an SPF of at least 30 for optimal protection. It’s also a good idea to consider using a moisturizer that has SPF in it to keep the number of products you use to a minimum.
It’s important to make sure that you apply your sunscreen towards the end of your skincare routine since layering other products on top can counteract its protective abilities.
Now that you know which products to consider in your minimalist routine––whether in combinations or individually––let’s take a closer look at those that you can remove.
Toners are often used to hydrate the skin and reduce substances that cleansers may have missed; however, toners aren't necessary if you’re using an effective cleanser.
Although toners are designed to prep your complexion for other products, some can disrupt its pH balance, which can cause irritation and dehydrated skin.
To avoid damaging the sensitive skin barrier, dermatologists often recommend removing toners from skincare routines.
Facemasks can vary in ingredients depending on their goals. But they’re generally designed to give your skin a short-term treatment for a specific concern.
While fun, unless you follow it up with a skincare routine like moisturizers that can maintain the results of a facemask and resolve sensitive skin, their effects on the skin are often temporary.
Since facemasks are also potent targeted treatments, they’re sometimes too harsh to use daily. This can result in skin irritation and redness.
Because many skinimalists focus on reducing what goes on their face, foundation and heavier makeups tend to get the boot first.
These products can contribute to acne and sensitivities because they're so thick. They also don't always "look" like less, and adherents of skinimalism often strive for a natural, no-makeup look.
At Nava MD, we know how important it is to find a skincare routine that can maintain a healthy complexion without a lot of hassle.
Our Full Radiance Set contains everything you need to achieve glowing and youthful-looking skin—from a cleanser and moisturizer, to an eye cream and spot-correcting serum.
For many, our teledermatology approach is compelling, allowing you to get custom help from a licensed dermatologist - all online.
Nava MD’s custom prescription formulas contain high-quality ingredients that have been clinically studied for their complexion-enhancing properties. They’re prescribed by dermatologists based on your complexion and skin concerns, and each one contains multiple active ingredients, including many of those listed above.
After a free online consultation, our clinicians create a personalized treatment plan with products prescribed and delivered to your doorstep, if approved.
The best part? You can do it all from the comfort of your own home—no in-office visits required. It’s the easiest dermatology visit you’ve ever had.