Every year while on winter vacation (this year being no exception), I listen to my favorite book, Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, to prepare myself for a fresh start in the new year. Full transparency: There’s nothing profound about this book—it’s just extremely sensible advice. The gist? Talk less, own fewer toys, have a consistent meal plan with fewer options, regulate tech time and stop comparing your kids (and yourself!) to others. It’s about creating consistent rhythms and providing space with your children to find true joy and meaning in your life. These rules still apply, even as my kids grow older. Anytime I feel overwhelmed, I know it’s time for me to scale back.
So, what does any of this have to do with skincare?
Well, a lot, actually! When you a) overload your skin with layers of similar ingredients, b) overuse active ingredients and c) reapply lip balm until your skin barrier is nowhere to be seen, you create an unhealthy skincare dependence—aka, it no longer knows how to function properly on its own without the help of skincare products. On top of that, unnecessary products like toners, sleeping masks, essences, double-cleansing, primer, and makeup (oops, did I say that out loud?) are a complete waste of your time and money.
The hard truth: Skin health is only achieved with minimal products and ingredients. When you only use what your skin actually needs, it will reach its full potential simply and more naturally.
Interested? Here’s how to make 2022 the year you embrace a “less is more” skincare routine…
1. Stop overdoing it with active ingredients.
…especially exfoliating ingredients. Start by laying out all of your skincare products. See if any overlap with similar active ingredients: retinol, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, etc. The goal is to use active ingredients only once a day in one single product. The only exceptions are for niacinamide, vitamin C and ceramides, which can be used morning and night—but that’s it!
Exfoliating ingredients should be used even less. If you have normal to slightly oily or acne-prone skin, it’s okay to use gentle exfoliating ingredients daily, like fruit acids, azelaic acid or gluconolactone—but even those should only be used two to three times a week for sensitive skin types. Stronger acids like lactic, glycolic and salicylic acid should be used no more than two to three times per week for normal skin, but possibly more frequently if you’re struggling with breakouts. If you’re prone to acne and want to use acids daily, I recommend a rinse-off product like a glycolic or salicylic acid cleanser. That way, the acids aren’t sitting on your skin for long periods of time.
Here’s a quick guide as to what actives you really need based on skin type:
- Sensitive, dry or rosacea-prone skin: niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, plant-based antioxidants/vitamin C, and peptides (use exfoliating fruit acids, azelaic acid, and gluconolactone occasionally)
- Normal to balanced skin with occasional breakout: niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, plant-based antioxidants/vitamin C, peptides, fruit acids, and gluconolactone
- Oily to acne-prone skin: all of the above, including retinol and/or more regular use of stronger exfoliating acids, like glycolic, lactic or salicylic
2. Cut your skincare routine back to two minutes or less.
…this might be slightly longer if you add makeup to the mix in the AM—but skincare products alone should take two minutes, max!
Here are a few tips to cut back on your skincare routine:
- Cleanse only at night: I’m not a fan of over-cleansing. In the morning, simply splash your face with warm water. If you wear makeup, remove it with olive or avocado oil. No need to use a cleansing balm followed by a foaming cleanser. It’s just too much!
- Eliminate unnecessary products: I’m talking toners, mists, and essence (I hate this entire category of skincare…there’s absolutely no point to it). I’m also not a huge fan of masks—especially sleeping masks. Just use a serum!
- Change your products with the season: Do this instead of adding more. For example, swap out a lightweight face oil for a heavier one or switch to a moisturizer in the winter. If you must use both a face oil and moisturizer, add a few drops of the oil to the moisturizer to save yourself a step!
- Use your hands: Facial cleansing devices, and even brushes for makeup, aren’t my favorite. Not only do they take longer to use—you have to clean and maintain them, too. Honestly, I don’t have time for this. Instead, just use your hands, but don’t forget to give them a quick wash before you get started. It’ll eliminate unnecessary bacteria transferred to your face and might even prevent breakouts!
3. Purge frequently.
Want to commit to skin-imalism for the long haul? Well, you have to keep up on it. That means frequently getting rid of what you don’t need so you’re not tempted to go back to your old ways! For one, make sure you keep track of dates and throw out any expired products. A quick rule of thumb is to toss anything you don’t actually touch after one year of opening (i.e products with droppers or pumps) and six months for anything you have to dip your fingers into, like moisturizer or eye cream. Products you keep in the shower, like a body scrub, might have less of a shelf life if water gets into the product.
Another pro tip? Purge products that don’t work for you. If you don’t see a difference in three months—or worse, the product causes irritation or sensitivity—let it go. Keeping them around because they’re expensive might make you feel better in the short term, but it’s not helping your skin. Not to mention, it takes up space from finding a product that actually makes a difference.
Lastly, get rid of seasonal products after the season is over. Yep, that includes the spray sunscreen you took to the beach last summer! If you have a moisturizer you only use during the winter months or a favorite shade of lipstick you only wear during the month of February, chances are it will expire before it’s time to use it again. This also goes for changing up your foundation or eye makeup from winter to summer.
There you have it. Your bathroom drawer should be cleaned up and minimized in no time! Do you like to get organized and start fresh in the new year with more intentional habits? If so, leave your best tips below!