The skinimalism beauty trend might make brands a bit nervous. The focus is on simplifying your skincare routine. If you pair that with a sustainable beauty approach (skinimalism = minimalism = buy less stuff), then the whole premise of skinimalism is buy less and use less.
You don't need a 14-step routine, no matter what anyone tells you! A minimalist skincare routine can be very effective and help you have that glowing, healthy skin.
What is Skinimalism?
The term skinimalism is a portmanteau (word mash-up) of the words skin and minimalism. True to itself, the concept isn't complicated - less is more skincare.
Buy fewer products with fewer ingredients. Simplify. Get back to the basics.
Taking this approach will save you time, money and you will still have glowing skin.
Be wary of brands trying to sell you specific 'skinimalism products'... skinimalism is a philosophy, not a product.
How Do Beauty Brands Design Products?
When it comes to skincare, building a product involves several steps. The most important decisions are:
- What is the purpose? What active ingredients do we want to use?
- Will it need to be emulsified?
- What physical properties do we want? Thick, thin, liquid, gel, opaque, transparent…
The common notion that serums are more potent because they have less water to dilute the ingredients is inaccurate. There isn't some massive difference between an ampoule, serum, essence, etc. I'm not sure we can even define them except to say they are all just marketing terms.
The activity level of an ingredient has little to do with the physical consistency of the delivery system. Products with a lightweight texture or lightweight formulas aren't automatically skinimalistic. While you want products to be comfortable to the skin, sheer coverage doesn't mean skinimalism.
If an ingredient is effective at a concentration of 10%, and if the formula is adequately stabilized, you can really make it any consistency you want. If you leave it as a liquid, you might call it a spray or toner. If you thicken or gel it, you might call it an essence or a serum. If you emulsify it thinly, it becomes a lotion. If you emulsify it thickly, it becomes a cream.
This isn't universally true, however, for the vast majority, the physical properties of the product should be viewed separately. The key to effectiveness is that the concentration of the ingredient used matches what was used in the clinical studies.
Single Function vs Multifunction Products
Minimalist skincare can take 2 different approaches that come down to consumer preference.
Do you want to target a single concern and minimize ingredients to only the most essential? This is a good approach if you choose highly active and well-researched ingredients. Retinol is a good example. Much is known about its effectiveness, and consumers understand how their skin reacts to different percentages.
Another way is to look for a single product that has many functions. A bit more like an all-in-one solution.
From a sustainability standpoint, please remember that creating a minimalist skincare routine doesn't need to involve buying all-new products.
Building a Minimal Skincare Routine
The fact that the ingredient function can be considered separate from the the product texture is what makes skinimalism possible.
This concept opens up a world called functional beauty or functional skincare - where products are designed and chosen based on the ingredient function.
Don't be tricked into thinking you need 14 different serums, ampoules, and essences. Take a structured and mindful approach to shopping. The ingredient activity levels could all be identical, with the only difference being consistency and texture. That said, consumer preference and user experiences do matter a lot. That's why you can find glycolic acid toners, serums, lotions, and creams.
4 Essential Functions for Skincare Products
Design your routine around ingredient function and then select a product based on your preference for skin feel (liquid, gel, cream, lotion, etc).
Cleansing is essential, and a decision between 2 steps (oil then cleanser) or 1 (cleanser only) depends a lot on whether you need to remove makeup. Beyond that, choose the best cleansing oil for your skin type and pair it with a gentle, non-soap, cleanser.
Exfoliating is necessary, but whether you gently use a mechanical method (washcloth, konjac sponge, face scrub) or chemical (any sort of acid product) is another personal choice. Gently exfoliating is important for skin barrier health.
Moisture and hydration are linked but not the same thing. Moisturization and skin barrier support are created by emollients. Hydration occurs from using humectants like hyaluronic acid. Most Creams and lotions contain some of both. Be sure to moisturize and hydrate properly, especially if in a dry climate or if you have very dry skin. We love face oil because the skin allows oil-soluble active ingredients to penetrate well.
The air quotes are because skincare products are cosmetics, and they cannot and should not be thought of as treatment in the medical sense. They are not drugs. However, people tend to seek solutions for many categories of skin concerns and an almost infinite number of ingredients promise success. Some common examples:
- Age-related changes: vitamin C, coenzyme q10, retinol, bakuchiol
- Pigment related changes: vitamin C, licorice root, retinol, resveratrol
- Oil controlling and acne modifying: salicylic acid, retinol, bakuchiol
- Damage repair and healing: bisabolol, allantoin, aloe vera
Many products can fulfill more than one function. You don't have to seek out a specific eye cream if you find a product that meets your needs. The term 'eye cream' is heavily focused on marketing small volume packaging at usually double the price/ounce.
A minimalist skin care routine is meant to use as few products as needed with as high-yield results as possible. The goal is to have a natural glow and boost the skin's natural ability to look flawless.
The essence of skinimalism is simplicity, but not at the cost of results.
Taking a minimalist approach or using spot treatments, can be a helpful approach for people with sensitive skin or damaged skin barriers. We've written extensively about skin barrier health and have also published a free step-by-step guide to repairing it.
With all this said, simplicity isn't for everyone. If you love complexity and variety be wary of over-processing your skin though. Often our routines are the cause of our problems and taking a total break from most products is what finally cures your issue. Avoid the tendency to keep adding more if what you're using doesn't seem to be working.
Shopping for an amazing beauty oil with active botanicals?
Check out bareLUXE Elevated face oils designed for each skin type and concern.
Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.