Let’s look at the ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to skincare. More often than not, we’re overwhelmed with dozens of skincare products to serve specific purposes. Oh the gazillion ads to lure us into wanting them!
Complicated skincare routines may work but maybe they’re not for you. Maybe you just don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to invest in elaborated skincare routines. Or maybe it just doesn’t agree with your skincare philosophy to overload the skin with too many products. Or maybe you’re just a frugal person who doesn’t believe in overspending on skincare. Whatever be the cause, many like you prefer the minimal path when it comes to skincare.
The thing is though that minimal doesn’t necessarily have to mean simplistic or ineffective. You can get the most out of just a few products to supply your skin the right nutrients for overall care. If you’re looking to de-clutter your beauty cabinet and bathroom counter or are simply a skincare noob, here’s how you can get started with a minimalist skin care routine for healthy skin.
Step 1: Cleanse twice every day
Nothing fancy, just go for a mild cleanser instead of harsh soaps and face washes. You want something that is powerful enough to get rid of dirt, excess oil and makeup but not so harsh that it strips away the natural oils of the skin.
Choose your cleanser based on your skin type. If you have dry or aging skin, go for a moisturizing cleanser that contains emollients to soften the skin and make it supple. For oily skin type, go for a foaming liquid cleanser that can break down the oil and impurities to effectively remove them.
One easy tip is also to use a botanical oil with a warm washcloth to simply wipe away the impurities from the skin. Botanical oils are usually cheap and they reduce your cleansing routine to the bare minimum. A number of them such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, etc. work as excellent cleansers.
Step 2: Tone right after cleansing
Many people skip this crucial step in an attempt to minimize their skincare routine but remember that your minimal routine still needs to be effective! Cutting down on essentials isn’t quite the way to go.
Toning cleans up the pores and calms the skin. It also balances the skin’s pH to protect it from harmful bacterial attack. The other advantage of toning is that it increases the absorption and therefore the effectiveness of the other products you apply afterwards.
Stick to a simple toner that contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and hydrating ingredients like lactic acid, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin. Plant-based ingredients like aloe, chamomile and rose water are also excellent in simple and minimal toners. One ingredient you should avoid is alcohol in skincare products, especially in toners as it dries out the skin and irritates it.
Step 3: Moisturize and nourish with active nutrients
Your skin has a protective natural moisture barrier that protects it from environmental aggressions like harmful bacteria, sun exposure, pollution, etc. This barrier gets compromised when the skin is dry and that happens often due to weather conditions, bathing in hot water for too long (to be explained below), aging, etc.
Moisturizing is essential to protect and maintain the moisture barrier. This is not a step you can skip in desire to simplify your skincare routine, even if it means sticking to simple, basic moisturizers. Common active ingredients to look for are lanolin, petrolatum, mineral oil and glycerin.
If you have oily skin, go for lighter oils and lotions while for dry skin, opt for heavier cream-based moisturizers or balms. If your skin is prone to acne, look for a non-comedogenic moisturizer that doesn’t clog up the pores. Also keep in mind other factors such as weather conditions – light moisturizers in summer, heavier ones in winter. Don’t overlook skin sensitivities while choosing your moisturizer – look for products labeled as ‘hypoallergenic’ if you have sensitive skin.
If you have mature or aging skin, it might be worth it to add a vitamin A or retinol cream too or simply get a moisturizer that contains it. It will speed up skin recovery to slow down aging.
While they’re not exactly steps, a few simple tips can greatly improve your skin health without asking for much. Add a few drops of mineral oil to your bathwater to make up for lost natural oils. Keep your showers limited to 5 minutes and avoid too hot showers.
Step 4: Protect from sun damage
The skin is vulnerable to a number of external factors, the worst of them being UV radiations from the sun. Its damage ranges from mild tanning and hyperpigmentation to sunburns and long-term aging signs to lethal cancers! Minimal or not, sun protection has to be included in any skincare routine to ensure your skin remains healthy.
Whether you choose between a chemical sunscreen and a physical sunblock, look for a product that provides broad-spectrum protection. This means protection from both UV- A and B radiation. Avoid chemicals like oxybenzone and go for mineral compounds like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead.
To minimize your skincare routine even further, look for multi-tasking products such as moisturizers with a sun protection factor (SPF). As long as you’re getting the goodness of both, it doesn’t matter whether you’re layering one or two products on the skin.
While this isn’t exactly a step in your skincare regimen, it certainly is skincare nonetheless to cover your skin with protective clothing as much as possible. Wear full-sleeve shirts, long pants, gloves, hats, sunglasses, etc. to provide sun protection whenever possible. Afterall, minimalists will agree more than others – prevention is better than cure!
Step 5: Exfoliate for skin regeneration
The last step to add to your minimalist skincare routine is exfoliation. Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells to stimulate the production of new ones. It clears up clogged pores to reduce pore size as well as the risk of acne. Exfoliation is important to prevent skin dullness and to speed up healing and recovery.
Depending on your skin type and choice of exfoliator, you can choose to exfoliate either daily or twice a week.