Should You Try Skin Fasting? Two Experts Weigh In
The skincare industry is booming. In fact, skincare product sales grew by 13 percent in 2018, which is pretty impressive considering makeup sales increased only one percent, according to market research company The NDP Group. And your daily beauty routine likely reflects this trend. Maybe you even have a bathroom counter cluttered with a slew of cleansers, toners, serums and moisturizers (or is that just me?).
In the midst of this apparent skincare craze, a countermovement has emerged: skin fasting. First introduced by the Japanese skincare company Mirai Clinical in 2011, skin fasting involves skipping your evening skincare routine (besides a gentle cleanser) once a week to give your skin the opportunity to take care of itself. The concept has been gaining major traction in the beauty sphere recently with beauty editors trying it and Reddit users raving about it.
But is it really worth the hype? Reluctant to ditch my carefully developed skincare routine for even one night a week, I turned to the experts. And luckily, they didn’t hold back when discussing the potential benefits (and pitfalls) of skin fasting. Here’s what they had to say about the emerging trend.
The Good of Skin Fasting
“Your skin knows what to do on its own without any help, but if it doesn’t have to then it won’t,” explains Adina Grigore, founder of skincare company S.W. Basics. She likens most people’s skincare products to a crutch. So by partaking in skin fasting, you’re encouraging your skin to regulate itself, rather than relying on products.
Adina employs this philosophy in her book, Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin. “We are bombarding our skin and bodies with too many products and ingredients and chemicals and our routines should not control us, but they do,” she explains. In order to remedy this, Adina recommends giving your skin a break and then seeing what it actually needs. “The goal is not to vilify your products; it’s to reset to find what really works for you and what doesn’t,” she continues.
Sarah Villafranco, MD, and founder of Osmia Organics agrees, but is more skeptical. “I think there are potential benefits, with an emphasis on the word potential,” she explains. “The argument is that if you’re always supplying hydration and oils to the surface of the skin, your skin will become less able to keep itself in balance from the inside. I think that applies especially to people who use a lot of product on a daily basis. Giving your skin a breather once a week may allow your skin to find its baseline, which is a good thing if you have baseline healthy skin,” Sarah says.
If you have problem skin, however, it may not be that simple. Which brings me to the problematic side of this trend.
The Bad of Skin Fasting
There’s no guarantee that you’ll benefit from skin fasting. Sarah suggests that people with younger, healthier skin who use a lot of product or makeup are most likely to benefit. “For those who struggle with eczema, dermatitis, acne or dry skin, consistency and simplicity may be more important than fasting,” she explains.
Adina emphasizes that she wouldn’t recommend taking a complete break from cleaning your skin. “This was maybe feasible when we lived among trees and bathed with dolphins, but today we are faced with stressful, busy, polluted lives. Your skin will get dirty and overwhelmed. In a skin cleanse, you rinse with water and you pay attention to if you need more than that. A skin fast is more rigorous and I think a lot of people may end up with more problems than they started with,” she warns.
Furthermore, there doesn’t appear to be scientific backing behind the concept. “I have searched and found exactly zero medical studies on ‘skin fasting’ so I think there’s a lot more room for investigation here. It would be very cool to see some studies that support the skin fasting theory,” Sarah says.
If you do want to give your skin a break from its everyday routine, Adina and Sarah have some advice. First, there are some products that you should definitely be detoxing from once in a while. Adina suggests taking a break from makeup and products with synthetic derivatives like retinol and hyaluronic acid. Sarah agrees on the makeup, and recommends going bare-faced two to three days per week.
In terms of more general detox advice, “use fewer, higher-quality products,” Sarah suggests. “I see lots of our customers doing their full routine only at night, and simply splashing with water in the morning. I use four products a day, and have for many years. When I want to simplify, I drop to two products,” she continues.
Adina approaches the process with an emphasis on self-love. “Be patient through detox symptoms, and remember to give your skin some emotional love. The hardest part for most people is how much we hate on ourselves and our appearance, which just causes more problems. A cleanse is an opportunity to heal, and to heal you need self-love,” she advises.
Post-Detox Products to Try
Whether you decide to go full on skin fast or take a milder detox approach, your skin is gonna need a little TLC eventually. “Post fast is a great time to experiment with cleaner makeup,” Adina explains. With that in mind, we asked her and Sarah to tell us about some of their favorite clean beauty products––which you’ll never need to detox from. Check them out below.
Formulated with black Australian clay and Dead Sea mud, this best-selling soap works to balance and tone the skin. “It seems to work for practically every skin type, and cleans effectively without stripping the skin,” Sarah explains.
Adina recommends this hydrating hydrosol mist because it’s made from a single ingredient. It’s 100 percent rosewater, so you don’t have to worry about harsh additives or irritants. Spritz some on to soothe and refresh your skin.
Looking to swap out your go-to concealer for a cleaner one? This formula from W3LL PEOPLE is sustainably made, and free from harsh artificial chemicals. Plus, it works to depuff, brighten and improve skin texture while you wear it. “W3LL PEOPLE is the only makeup brand that doesn’t make my skin fully freak out (aka break out) while also still working,” Adina raves.
This gentle face cream was created with sensitive skin in mind. It contains pure, plant-sourced ingredients and essential oils to deliver hydration without being harsh on the skin. Sarah recommends mixing the cream with Osmia Organics Nectar Vital Rose Dropsto “provide all the nourishment your skin needs, without excess ingredients that can leave your skin confused and frustrated.”
Occasionally, skin issues can be tied to the hair products you’re using, which is why Adina recommends Seaweed Bath Company shampoos like this eucalyptus and peppermint formula. They contain clean ingredients, are less likely to irritate your scalp and your face, and they leave your hair feeling luxurious after washing. Organic bladderwrack seaweed, argan oil and avocado oil come together to promote moisture and shine in this particular formula.
Interested in more clean beauty recs? Check out our summer haircare picks, and our guide to choosing the best toner for your skin type.