It’s Officially The Best Time To Do A Skin-Fast
I’d been wanting to do a “skin-fast” for a while, but never found the right window.
A skin-fast is exactly what it sounds like: you essentially forego your entire beauty routine, or a large part of it, for a period of time to encourage your skin to become more reliant on itself. Rather than waiting for serums, retinols, acids and sheet masks to help it detox, heal and brighten, our skin is left to fend for itself. Think of it as a crash course in I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E.
Being isolated from the world for an extended period of time felt like the perfect opportunity for me to experiment with a skin-fast, both from an economic and a vanity perspective. I was acutely aware that whatever skincare I carted with me to mum and dad’s house would need to last me for as long as lockdown required us to stay indoors. There will be no “popping in to Mecca” – this could easily be our reality for the better part of three months, so I need to ration things out. Secondly, the only people who will be seeing my skin up-close are my four family members; so in the likely event that my skin has an ugly “detox” phase, or starts protesting against not being supported every minute of every day, I can ride out the pimples and dryness in private.
The term was originally coined by Mirai Clinical, a prestigious Japanese skin and body care brand that describes skin-fasting as a way “to strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier that is weakened by excessive nourishing, to normalise the secretion of natural oils and support the natural rejuvenation process.” Mirai Clinicial’s original prescription was to simply give up your daily and nightly moisturiser a few days a week, but people have seen benefits from taking this principle a few steps further and giving up everything from anywhere between 7 and 21 days.
In my line of work, the name of the beauty-game is “experimentation”. It’s not only encouraged, but required. So it’s easy to over-do it, to get so excited about the next glycolic or Vitamin C that you end up layering products with reckless abandon. When that happens, it becomes impossible to ascertain what is actually working. So since last Thursday, I’ve been using moisturiser, a warm face cloth, and that’s it. And you know what? My skin is…fine. It’s definitely duller, with a lot more texture, and there were about four days where I was producing more oil than usual as my skin adjusted to hydrating itself, but on balance things are surprisingly good! And the best part is that I now have so much clarity over the products my skin actually needs (namely Vitamin C and retinol).
According to Dr. Whitney Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist and the author of The Beauty of Dirty, the concept has its merits, “Dialling down on overly cumbersome skincare rituals can be really healthy for the skin. I don’t think going full fast is necessary, but if you feel pressure to keep adding extra steps to your routine, and you’re not sure whether each product is really benefitting your skin, it’s time to rethink and streamline. I would recommend using only 3 or 4 products a day for a few weeks to reset your skin before adding in anything new.”
So why not try it? Why not clear out a few products and just see what happens? Maybe you’ll discover that your 18-step routine isn’t necessary, and your skin looks *just as good* when you only use four things and a face cloth. Whatever you decide, it’s worth asking yourself: Am I using this because it noticeably improves my skin, or because everyone else on Instagram is using it and it looks nice in my bathroom?