Cutting. The. Crap. If we’re putting it bluntly, that’s what intentional living really boils down to, right? When there are so many marketing messages telling you that you need this magic eye cream or that miracle lip plumper, you can end up with (literally) bathroom cabinets full of products you barely even use.
What’s worse? I used to be so swayed by my next cosmetics fix and yet the one consistent about my skin was that it mostly looked like a hot mess. From irritation and dryness to red patches and angry spots, my sensitive complexion really wasn’t made for a maximalist, chemical-laden 21st-century skincare routine.
And truthfully? I’m not sure that anyone’s is.
Ironically, your self-inflicted skin issues then turn into a vicious cycle. You apply ever-heavier makeup every day to put on a mask to the world, covering your blemishes with mountains of concealer and clogging your pores. But tell me, do you really think this is optimising your skin health?
Of course, the solution to the problem is to go to the root cause of the issue: heed these beauty truths and prioritise your skincare! As with everything, we tend to prefer instant ‘fixes’ in the moment by slathering on yet more products, as opposed to the slightly less-sexy but infinitely more rewarding long-term solution that is a highly consistent, minimal skincare routine.
‘Skinimalism’: What Is a Minimalist Skincare Routine?
Skinimalism is the new glow up.
Pinterest Trend Predictions Report, 2021
A minimalist skin care routine goes back to basics with 3-4 hero products. It’s also refreshingly simple and sustainable in every sense – something you can stick to, plus better for the planet at large.
Minimalism tends to be counter-cultural in a fast-paced world, but arguably I’m not entirely preaching to the unconverted here. Life during Covid-19 gave plenty of people the opportunity to live more simply, with furlough and time spent at home meaning less of a need to plaster on the products. With no one to impress other than the odd Zoom call, a ‘less is more’ approach dominated the nation’s skincare routines.
You too may have found that it gave your skin some much-needed time to breathe. Perhaps you found that your skin even improved during this time (global pandemic aside, every cloud really does have a silver lining!).
At which point: enter Skinimalism, Pinterest’s beauty trend that signalled an important shift away from cakey foundation and the perfect smoky eye. More and more, you saw people embracing ‘slow beauty’ and letting their natural skin shine through.
Just because the world has largely returned to the way it was doesn’t mean that there weren’t some important lessons to be learnt by slowing down and stripping back. A minimal skincare routine goes beyond trends. It should be a permanent mainstay on your daily agenda.
9 Reasons You Should Embrace Skinimalism
The benefits of a minimalist skincare routine almost merit a post in their own right! If you’re looking to improve your skin health, all whilst being budget-friendly and eco-conscious, then a minimalist approach is going to revolutionise your beauty regime.
1. It encourages you to accept your natural beauty
Why focus on a bag full of expensive makeup designed to make your skin appear dewy, when you can have, you know… naturally dewy skin?! A minimal look starts and ends with cleansing, moisturising, sun protection, and a handful of lightweight makeup products. In short, it encourages you to accept your natural appearance and embrace your imperfections.
When you’re hiding your freckles, for example, to achieve a flawless finish – what kind of message do you think this is feeding your ever-listening subconscious? Having a more minimalist approach to skincare and not using your appearance as much to outwardly validate yourself can only lead to enhanced self-worth and self-esteem.
2. You cut through the marketing crap
There is a lot of marketing hype in the multi-billion dollar beauty industry, as well as plenty of social media influencers who are being paid to promote products. So, take everything you see and read with a big pinch of salt!
The truth of the matter is that you only need to use a few products to truly care for your skin. For instance, SPF isn’t talked about all that much, but protecting against the sun’s harmful rays is one of the most important things you can do on a daily basis to keep your skin looking youthful and healthy. Your minimal skincare routine should leave you feeling empowered with products and ingredients that actually work.
3. A minimal skincare routine improves skin health
It doesn’t make sense – how can you do less, but achieve more? Well, as with many things in life, a counterintuitive approach is best! Excessive skincare routines can damage your skin barrier, cause irritation, and even result in breakouts.
When you chop and change different products into your beauty routine and use 15+ separate products, is it really any wonder that your skin gets overwhelmed? The active ingredients contained in many skin care products usually don’t combine all that well and have the potential to cause more harm than good. Even certified dermatologists are now advising that you stick with the essential products for overall healthier skin.
4. You can identify what products cause breakouts
The problem with using too many products that are constantly changing is that you never really get down to the crux of what actually works. Moreover, when you have a breakout, it’s virtually impossible to eliminate the offending product… because, well, it could be anything!
By staying consistent and minimal with your skincare, you can more effectively work out a tried and tested routine that’s especially targeted towards you and your unique skin type.
5. You’ll save time in the morning and at night
If you’re a busy person and your skincare and makeup application regularly takes you upward of half an hour in the mornings, then a minimal routine is going to give you back a whole lot of your most precious resource: time.
Plus, the less products you slather on your face in the mornings, the easier it’s going to be to wash everything off at night!
There’s plenty that you could be doing with all this saved time. From starting your day right with a healthy breakfast to building a creativity habit, you can supercharge your morning with all the stuff which makes you beautiful on the inside, too.
6. You’re more likely to stick to a simple skincare routine
Like an elaborate gym routine that you sweat through for a few days before quickly losing momentum, a time-consuming skincare routine probably isn’t sustainable (if you’re being completely honest with yourself).
It’s easy to assume that you have to make massive all-out changes in your life to see results, when actually, building small, disciplined habits is much more realistic. A minimalist yet thorough skincare routine which covers all the essential steps is going to have far more of an impact in the long run, than something you struggle to maintain consistency with.
7. A pared-down routine is cheaper
Fewer products are kinder to your skin, but do you know what they’re also kind to? Your bank balance! When you stop masking your natural features, you’ll find that you naturally don’t need to spend as much on makeup, either.
When you focus on the bare essentials, it’s amazing how you can save money you didn’t even realise you were spending. Skincare products don’t come cheap – especially when you’re buying into your favourite influencer’s holy grail 20-step routine! – so it’s time to start spending more intentionally on the things that really matter.
8. You can buy quality products that last longer
Like a curated capsule wardrobe or a minimalist makeup bag, the beauty of a minimal skincare routine is that you can spend more on higher-quality products. Whilst it isn’t always the case that more expensive equals more effective, it’s true that shopping for clean and ethical brands can (rightly) cost a little bit more.
The plus point is that organic, concentrated ingredients usually lead to products that last a lot longer. A worthwhile investment all around.
9. Conscious skincare is better for the planet
Self-care is the basis of any skincare routine, but a minimalist skincare routine also means being more conscious of what you consume. You may start by prioritising beauty products that are clean, organic, and give you beautiful skin, but it’s also good to consider whether your chosen brand aligns with your own personal values.
For example, are they cruelty-free? Vegan? Are they sustainably sourced and good for the planet? Kinder ingredients, less plastic packaging, and a consideration of animals are all wider ripple effects of minimalism. You can have an impact with something as seemingly small and personal as your skincare routine.
What Products Do You Need to Start Your Minimal Skincare Routine?
Let’s go way, way back to the very beginning. A basic skincare routine consists of precisely 3 products (I’ll link my current favourites from ethical brand Tropic Skincare):
A gentle cleanser – effectively remove makeup, dirt and oil for completely clean skin
A moisturiser – keep skin hydrated and minimise environmental stressors
An SPF 30+ – guard against damaging UV rays, the primary cause of fine lines and wrinkles
As part of your skincare routine, it’s also wise to incorporate an exfoliating scrub 1-2 times a week to remove dead skin cells and keep your skin feeling smooth.
Personally, I always keep a sneaky extra product on hand in the form of micellar water or makeup remover oil (I use this one from BYBI) which helps to dissolve more stubborn eye makeup prior to cleansing.
Some additional basic equipment that I’d recommend investing in for effective cleansing are:
Cotton pads – I like to use these handy reusable pads, which not only cuts down on plastic packaging waste but also means you’re not throwing single-use pads straight in the bin every day
Micro-fibre cloths – these lovely microfibre bamboo ones leave your face feeling so fresh, it helps to invest in a few so that you always have one on the go when others are in the wash
So really, that’s just 3-5 products for your entire skincare routine. It couldn’t be any more simple!
What about the rest? Toners, serums, eye creams, clay masks, etc
I know, I can already hear you asking: But what about my Vitamin C serum? My day cream and night cream? Don’t you have to tone after cleansing?
I’m going to put it bluntly: you don’t need any of these things (even though brands will encourage you to think you do… but they make money when you spend, remember?!).
If you want to add in further steps, or you have a specific condition where it makes sense to use a more targeted product – like acne-prone skin, for instance – then by all means do so. But if your skin is relatively healthy, then I hate to break it to you, but it’s most likely just going to irritate your skin by adding in unnecessary products and potentially clashing active ingredients.
Less is more, so stick to the necessities where possible. Invest in one super high-quality moisturiser rather than a separate day and night cream, for example. Let your skin know what to expect with regular, minimal products.
What ingredients actually work?
Some effective natural ingredients that will make a difference to your skincare are:
Vitamin C – improves skin’s collagen production and works to brighten your under-eye area
Retinol/Hyaluronic acid – reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles whilst giving the skin a plumper appearance
Vitamin E – protects your skin from damage and moisturises dry skin
Caffeine – a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation
Salicylic acid – reduces redness and unlocks pores
AM & PM Skincare Routine: Can They Be the Same?
In short, no. Your skin has different needs in the morning and in the evening, so whilst both can certainly be simple, your skincare routines should prioritise different products depending on whether you’re starting or ending the day.
Minimalism isn’t about cutting corners or using all-in-one products for the sake of it. It’s about being targeted in your approach and concentrating on the essentials for maximum results.
For the ultimate goal of glowing skin, you can still achieve this by following 3 easy steps just twice a day.
3-Step Minimalist Morning Skincare Routine
1. Wash your face with water OR use a minimal amount of gentle cleanser
Honestly? Unless you particularly feel the need, a splash of water is absolutely fine in the morning to wake up your skin and rinse away any impurities.
2. Apply a thin layer of moisturiser
If you want to go ahead and apply SPF and makeup on top of your moisturiser, then you’ll want your moisturiser to sink in and dry as quickly as possible. Save the heavier application for evenings.
3. Cover your face and neck in sunscreen
There are plenty of moisturisers that contain SPF, but for proper protection I’d recommend using a dedicated product. Applying SPF is a daily non-negotiable, even in the depths of winter.
3-Step Minimalist Evening Skincare Routine
1. Remove eye makeup with miscellar water/makeup remover oil (optional)
If your eye makeup is on the heavier side, wipe a dedicated makeup remover over your eyes and leave it for a few seconds to begin breaking down your eye product. You should then be able to easily wipe it away with some cotton pads.
2. Apply a gentle cleanser
Wipe away makeup residue with a damp face cloth. The benefit of a minimal skincare and makeup routine is that you should rarely have to double cleanse for squeaky-clean skin.
3. Slather on your moisturiser
As you can probably tell, I’m not generally one for slathering! But this is one instance where you can really quench your skin’s thirst and help it to repair overnight, leaving it beautifully supple and smooth by morning.
No matter your skin type, a shorter routine is going to have plenty of benefits that go beyond your outward appearance. Taking the time to establish a dedicated – and most importantly – consistent self-care routine is positive for your mental health, too.
I think that we all have a habit of trying to make things a lot more complicated than they need to be, and skincare is no exception! But the moral of the story is generally that slow and steady wins the race. Being able to stick with a simple routine is going to be far more effective in the long run than constantly switching in new products that promise the earth yet rarely deliver.
A minimal skincare and makeup routine is empowering, especially as women. When you feel beautiful and confident in your own skin, there’s nothing that’s going to get in your way – I guarantee! For my pick of the best natural, organic, and eco-friendly skincare in the UK, you should definitely check out my follow-up article here. Then, for the final step, don’t forget to read up on all things minimalist makeup with my recommended ethical makeup brands.