Less Can Do More: Why Your Skin Doesn’t Need a 10-step Routine

Less Can Do More: Why Your Skin Doesn’t Need a 10-step Routine

If you are experiencing burning, stinging, redness, and general irritation then your skin is showing signs of inflammation. One of the best things you can do is allow your skin time to repair and recover by minimising what you put on it.

In the not-so-distant past (circa 2022), a 10-step daily face routine with numerous serums and actives was the trend de jour. On social media, influencers detailed out their morning routines with product after product, after product lavishly applied to their skin. There was a more is more approach to getting results, and fast. This led to an overuse of potent actives, blending non compatible ingredients together, swapping up routines too often and over exfoliating skin that doesn’t need to be exfoliated every day. Dermatologists were seeing an increase in contact dermatitis, irritated and inflamed skin.

If you are experiencing burning, stinging, redness, and general irritation then your skin is showing signs of inflammation. One of the best things you can do is allow your skin time to repair and recover by minimising what you put on it.

This overuse of product compromises our skin’s own protecting, self-cleaning and exfoliating mechanisms. It often leads to damage of the skin barrier, disrupts our skin’s pH, can increase pigmentation, and speed up the skin aging process.

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The rise in simplifying a skin care routine was touted as “skinimal.” This less-is-more approach advocates for a sustainable and effective routine with just a few multitasking and well formulated products. Create a routine with less products that can provide maximum benefit and assist with hydration, protection, and repair and that can be followed consistently. It is a relief not only to our skin but also, saves time and money.

With knowledge of the skin’s physiology, its structure, chemistry, and metabolism, many have come to realise what some dermatologists had been advocating for for ages, we don’t need a bathroom cabinet full of product to attain and maintain healthy skin. Skincare should just be there for support if we do have certain skin concerns, otherwise, our skin is more than capable of looking after itself.

A cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen are the go to basics of following skinimalism. Alternating with a specialty product as needed if you have any skin concerns like rosacea, dermatitis, eczema, acne, blemishes, pigmentation or are concerned about ageing skin. Some dermatologists even recommend full rest periods where we apply nothing at all for a few days – very much like our ancestors would have done!

skin science for healthier skin
Image from the Skin Atlas

Skin Biology 101

The skin regulates itself wonderfully. Our skin can cleanse, moisturise, exfoliate, manage its own microbiome, and self-heal.

The skin is our body’s largest organ and is primarily a protective mechanism to shield our inner organs and repel pathogens. It has a variety of functions integral to survival.

Our external environment challenges our skin barrier via many ways and the skin helps to protect us from, and to avoid damage. Our skin:

  • Protects us from water evaporation.
  • Helps to regulate body temperature.
  • Protects us from UV light and harmful pathogens and micro-organisms.
  • Synthesises vitamin D.
  • Senses and informs our brain of changes in the environment and temperature.

The skin’s regulating qualities include:

  • Sebum on the skin, or that light layer of oiliness helps to prevent skin from becoming too dry by sealing in moisture. This sebum is continuously excreted through our pores and contains all sorts of nutrients like fatty acids, glycerol, squalene, and lipids. These dance on the surface with vitamin e and omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids and ceramides to form the skin barrier. Yes, those are the same ingredients we often find in our skincare products!
  • Hyaluronic acid molecules reside in the deeper layers of the skin providing moisture.
  • Chemicals on the skin such as lactic acid, amino acids, and glycerin attract water into our dead skin cells, scientifically known as corneocytes, for a while, our skin needs these dead skin cells to stay hydrated.
  • When the corneocytes have done their duty, the skin self-exfoliates via shedding the dead cells in a process called desquamation.
  • The body produces enzymes that trigger the desquamation process. The cycle from skin cell conception to desquamation is 28 days.
  • We have several microorganisms residing on and in our skin that eat up dead skin cells and assist the natural exfoliation process. These microorganisms include fungi, bacteria, and viruses in the trillions.
  • Our skin has an acid mantle, a blend of amino acids and oils that act as a protective layer over the skin. Along with lipids, vitamin e and, omeg-3 acids and antioxidants they deal with environmental aggressors such as pollution and free radicals.
  • Sweat assists the acid mantle by keeping the skin’s pH around 4.4, the ideal for counteracting bacteria and viruses.
  • Sweat and sebum are natural pore cleansers, as they move through pores that push out build-up and bacteria.
  • The lymphatic system helps to reduce waste and toxins from the skin cells in a continual effort to keep our skin clean.
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Skin Support: Ultimate Skin Health

Perfect skin is an oxymoron. Lavishing on skin treatment after active after serum isn’t going to result in skin nirvana, not any more than doing nothing might. Our system has a marvellous and intricate network of factors that contribute to keeping our skin healthy, fresh, and glowing. This of course requires certain other inputs like healthy diet, adequate water intake, sufficient physical exercise and minimising stress, balanced hormones, all playing into our body’s ability to do what it needs to do.

Sometimes, we need support though. Our skin is no different. Choosing a few targeted products specific to what you need support in and incorporating them into your basic routine might be all it takes.

Dermatologist and Skin minimalists suggest a gentle cleanser that won’t damage the skin barrier or strip oils, a moisturiser to suit your skin, and a physical sunscreen daily. Some even suggest no need to wash skin in the morning. This all applies to skin on the body too.

If your skin is in a time of needing some support, here are some examples of items you might like to add in:

  • Dry skin – find a heavier moisturiser and use it (instead of your usual moisturiser) only on days when your skin is noticeably dry. For the body and very dry patches we recommend The Skin Balm. Skin dryness can be seasonal too.
  • Rosacea or redness – use an active like Vitamin B Niacinamide to help soothe. Azelaic acid can also help calm skin. Manuka honey is a prebiotic that feeds the skin microbiome and liquorice root helps to soothe irritation. The Clay Mask has been beneficial for those struggling with rosacea and sensitive skin, it is formulated for redness and inflammation while maintaining skin barrier and hydration and contains both manuka and liquorice. Sip on spearmint tea, it has a cooling and anti-inflammatory effect to counter the 'heat' of rosacea and is recommended daily.
  • Acne prone skin – it might be better to avoid actives like retinol and vitamin C as they can be harsh and inflammatory. Terpenin-4-ol is a well-researched component of Tea tree oil that is known for helping with blemishes and in clinical trials performs just as well as benzoyl peroxide but without the harsh side-effects. The Premedicated Whipped Body Foam is ideal for face and body breakouts without stripping natural oils and contains terpinen-4-ol. The Clay Mask is beautifully formulated, gentle and soothing for inflammed skin and healing breakouts.
  • Eczema – use something to help support skin barrier health and provide a long-lasting moisture shield. Hemp seed, olive oil and beeswax are nourishing. Chamomile and nettle are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and have shown to be effective in assisting eczema by reducing swelling and redness. All these natural ingredients are in The Skin Balm, an effective alternative to steroid creams without the nasty side effects.
  • Sun damaged skin – after some time in the sun our skin sometimes needs some extra nourishment to help cool and hydrate as moisture has been lost. Terpinen-4-ol the bioactive from Tea Tree is known for assisting with burns and clinical trials have showed significant improvement in harsh burns. The Skin Balm contains Terpione-4-ol and chamomile both ideal for minor burn and hydrating skin barrier supportive oils to provide a moisture shield and limit peeling. Run your skin under a cool shower or in a cool bath with 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil and then apply The Skin Balm. Keep the skin out of the sun while it heals and wear loose clothing that covers it when out in the sun. 
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