In an effort to achieve the healthiest and most beautiful skin possible, most of us have acquired an arsenal of skin care products. Cleansers, toners, purifying clays, blackhead removal strips, magnetic masks, skin waters, lotions, creams, sheet masks and so on and so forth. Our regimens tend to be long, elaborate, and often expensive. That is, of course, leaving out any more, shall we say, aggressive treatments like needling, red light therapy, microdermabrasion, laser peels...you get the idea.
And to be perfectly honest, for most of us this is not an exercise in vanity but the bare minimum to combat the toll everything in modern life (like environmental toxins and pollution, less than ideal eating and sleeping habits, complete failure to drink water like a grown adult should, and various other life demands) takes on our skin.
But what if, and hear me out here, we stopped all of it, just for a short period of time? In the same way that meal fasting is a way to reset your digestive system and reboot your health, skin fasting can have the same benefit to the overall look, feel and behavior of your skin. The good news is: skin fasting way easier than meal fasting; the bad news is you have to commit to it fully and completely – which means no lotions, no sheet mask and no makeup. Yes, you read that correctly – no makeup.
Skin Fasting: Phase One (Day 1-3)
We could try to sugar coat the process but the reality is, the initial phase will be hard. Your skin has not had the opportunity to balance itself naturally probably since Justin Timberlake was still in a boyband. During the first few days, your skin may very well be both dry and oily at the same time. Yes, it seems like a special kind of punishment, but like we said earlier, since your skin hasn’t been producing its own moisture and monitoring its own hydration levels, things are going to go a little haywire at first. Another consequence will be the tight, dry, itchy feeling. This is all perfectly normal.
There’s no need to panic, though. You can manage the oil production with oil-absorbing tissue sheets. Just be sure they don’t contain any dyes, perfumes or powders. Use these throughout the day to lift excess oils from your skin and avoid feeling greasy all day. The dry, itchy sensation, sadly, is something you are going to have to get through. Try your best not to scratch at your face. It sounds easier than it is, but you will have a lot bigger problems on your hands if you don’t use some self control.
Skin Fasting: Phase Two (Day 4-6)
The second phase can differ depending on how your skin naturally tends to be. For some people that can mean oily skin and breakouts or dry, peeling skin and sensitivity. You will be tempted to give up and drive into a vat of night cream after dousing yourself with salicylic acid-laden face wash, but don’t do it! If your skin is really angry and aggravated consider cool compresses or gentle steam with essential oils for aromatherapy treatments.
Here’s also where you’ll become keenly aware that you are undoubtedly, inarguably and inexcusably dehydrated. Don’t be surprised if your lips are chapped and your hands look like lizard skin. The harsh truth is that you have been hiding the fact that you’re dehydrated by slathering lotion and moisturizer all over your body. So, grab your favorite reusable water bottle and get to chugging.
Phase Three (Day 7-10)
This is the phase of acquiescence and new beginnings. You’ve pushed through and gotten to the other side. Hopefully the simplicity of your product free week has given you a sense of freedom and helped you pinpoint the ways your skin naturally supports itself. Now, you can start adding products back in one at a time, but pay close attention to how your skin reacts and be selective. Don’t just jump right back into using everything you did before, because it’s entirely possible you don’t need most of it for your skin to look and feel amazing.
After letting your skin breathe and giving it an opportunity to rejuvenate, you probably don’t want or need to wear as much makeup either. Consider celebrating your new found freedom by showing off your natural beauty with a makeup-free or makeup “light” lifestyle going forward.
No matter which direction you go, you’ve learned about your skin’s needs and natural state of being, providing a starting point for a better skincare routine in the future. And also, that you should probably drink more water...but what’s new?