What is the skinimalism movement?

Overwhelmed by the wealth of cosmetics available? Let your natural beauty shine through with a new streamlined skincare regime.

Hair & Beauty

Forget applying endless layers of skincare every day. Those in the know are using fewer products while returning to a natural kind of beauty. Coined ‘skinimalism’, this new simplified approach to skincare means stripping back lengthy regimes to achieve a natural glow.

“Streamlining your routine is definitely the way forward,” confirms Wo Skincare founder Karen Lee-Thompson. “Skinimalism is all about cutting out unnecessary products and using only what your skin really needs.”

The movement has evolved from South Korea’s ‘skipcare’ trend, which began gaining momentum after its extreme multi-step routines got a little bit out of hand. And after turning to at-home beauty boosters during the pandemic for some indulgence and selfcare, skinimalism is just the tonic for our busy post-lockdown lives.

Beauty and Seoul founder Maree Kinder is also an advocate, admitting that she’s never been a fan of the infamous 10-step K-beauty routine: “Realistically, no one has time to commit to that every day,” she says. “I do like a longer pamper session on a Sunday evening though as I find it resets me for the week ahead. Ultimately, it’s about understanding what works best for your skin and finding good quality products.”

Back to basics

According to the experts, often all that’s needed to achieve great skin is a thorough cleanse, targeted serum, moisturiser and SPF. More than this and you could be doing more harm than good.

“Using too many products at once with concentrated actives could tip the scales towards irritation rather than benefits,” says Lee-Thompson. “When the skin’s natural barrier function is disrupted it becomes sensitive, red or flaky, which are the tell-tale signs that you’re overdoing it.”

This is especially true if your skin isn’t used to lots of products, says Kinder: “I think many people get excited by the thought of a new routine, buy a ton of new products and try them out immediately, which can overwhelm your skin.” All of this is in addition to the maskne and stress-related breakouts that have marred our faces for well over a year. It’s time to go back to basics.

Where to start?

“Healthy skin begins with a robust but gentle cleanse,” says Lee-Thompson. “When the skin is free from dirt, sweat or impurities, it’s more receptive to the products applied afterwards.” Investing in a serum is a great way to boost the results of any regime. “The one product to invest the most money into is a serum,” says Anne Marie Hughes, lead educator at Million Dollar Facial.

“The correct serum for the correct skin condition is key. The right one will treat so many issues such as dryness, pigmentation, dehydration and fine lines.” Sarah Zimmer, founder of skincare brand NAYA (nayaglow.com), agrees, adding: “I’d write a love poem to serums if I could. I’ve always loved serum – it’s the one product that can really make a difference. Think of it as a supplement for your skin.”

To complete your routine, a good moisturiser and SPF are essential: “No matter what condition your skin is in, a well-formulated moisturiser is a must as it helps bring it back to its natural balance,” adds Lee-Thompson. If you’re wondering how it’s possible to achieve great results with such minimal products, the secret is to invest in formulas that contain the most effective ingredients for your skin type. A specialist skin analysis is a worthy investment if you’re unsure about which camp your skin falls into. However, if that’s out of your price range (some can be a big investment), there are plenty of online quizzes to help you on your way.

Knowing your skin

As a general rule, those with normal skin can get away with using most skincare ingredients. So if you’re lucky enough to have balanced skin, you can choose products that will enhance your natural glow, such as vitamin C. Those with an oily complexion should focus on gentle and hydrating products such as glycolic acid cleansers, serums with hyaluronic acid and oil-free moisturisers. Dry skin types, meanwhile, can enlist humectants and occlusives to help retain moisture. Lastly, if your skin is sensitive, calming ingredients such as aloe vera, shea butter and squalane are a must.

Of course, your skin can be a combination of the above, so it’s important to remember that one size doesn’t necessary fit all: “My advice is to try and understand your own unique skin and what works best for it,” says Kinder. “I will always introduce one new product at a time to my routine when testing anything out.”

Zimmer agrees, adding: “I always tell our customers to patch test and recommend applying samples beforehand to help understand what works or what doesn’t. The key is to be patient: the skin takes 28 days to go through a cycle and it drums to its own beat.”

And even when you’ve found a routine that works, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your skin in case of changes and switch things up if necessary: “As our skin is always changing, we all have our own different needs,” says Thompson-Lee. “So ensure you adapt your routine to what your skin needs rather than just adding in more products.”

The bottom line is that it will take some trial and error to decipher your skin’s unique needs. But once you do, the experts agree that there’s no need to waste time and money using myriad products. “Above all, look at that ingredient list and start to learn what works for your skin and what doesn’t,” Zimmer concludes.

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