The bare-faced truth about 'skin fasting': should you try this trend?

Taking a break from excessive use of skincare products can do your skin a world of good, but Ts&Cs apply

26 November 2020 - 07:30
Cleanser is a must even when you are skin fasting because clean skin, free of dirt, make-up and pollutants, is essential for a healthy complexion.
Cleanser is a must even when you are skin fasting because clean skin, free of dirt, make-up and pollutants, is essential for a healthy complexion.
Image: 123RF/Beauty Agent Studio

Many of us have tucked away our make-up bags and embraced a bare face while spending more time at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some have also taken advantage of the opportunity to go on a skin fast.

The skin fasting trend has seen a major resurgence of late.

Not sure what it is? Here’s the lowdown:

What is skin fasting?

Skin fasting can be likened to a skin “diet”. It involves reducing the amount of skincare products you use or cutting out a specific product or step in your skincare routine.

What are the pros?

Just as your skin sometimes needs a break from make-up, a break from the excessive use of skincare products can do it a world of good.

Our skin has natural ways of regulating itself, but rather than letting it do its own thing, we often rely on skincare products to do the job. 

For instance, we use exfoliators or retinol to remove dead skin cells instead of waiting for the skin ’s natural cell turnover cycle of 28 days. Another example is using products containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid to boost hydration instead of waiting for the skin to naturally rebalance its moisture levels.

At times, having an extensive skincare routine can overload the skin, so reducing it to, say, three simple steps — cleanse, serum and moisturise – can help the skin reset itself and become more resilient.

Are there any cons? 

Foregoing your rich moisturiser one night a week in favour of a lighter formula or oil-based serum isn’t going to hurt.

The same can't be said of ditching your prescription skincare products or those designed to tackle specific concerns like acne, super-dry skin or conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

If that's the case, a skin fast could result in adverse affects and you shouldn't attempt one without chatting to your dermatologist first. 

Which products to cut, or keep?

It is best to keep the products that are absolutely critical to your skin health (see above) and then slowly reduce your use of products that are nice-to-have add-ons.

Products with a high concentration of active ingredients are the first ones to consider cutting back on. Active ingredients such as retinols and vitamin C and chemical exfoliants such as BHA and AHA can cause dryness, sensitivity or irritation.

Don't ever ditch your cleanser though: having a clean skin, free of dirt, make-up and pollutants, is essential for a healthy complexion. Instead consider swapping that foamy cleanser for a more lightweight, water-based one, or swap it for micellar water.

Sunscreen is another must whether you're skin fasting or not as skipping it would leave your skin vulnerable to UV damage and skin damaging free-radicals.