From moisturizers to toners to serums and masks, there seems to be an endless array of skincare choices available, so when we heard about one of the latest beauty trends —skin fasting —aka doing literally nothing to your skin, we had to learn more and turned to the experts to get to the bottom of it. Read on below to understand this seriously pared down skincare concept, its benefits and whether you might wish to give it a go.
What exactly is skin fasting?
A skin fast is exactly what it sounds like: choosing to forgo your usual beauty routine, or at the very least, minimize the use of your products for a period of time. According to Koko Hayashi, Founder of Koko Face Yoga + CEO of Mirai Clinical, skin fasting is a natural method that can help your skin rejuvenate from the inside out. Koko, who’s actually credited for bringing the skin fasting trend to the United States, originally wrote about the concept back in 2011, and noted that “becoming dependent on skincare aides that provide hydration and oils, as well as the overuse of makeup, actually lessens your skin’s natural maintenance system,” adding that skin fasting can in turn “improve your skin’s condition and detoxify skin impurities.”
What do the derms say?
Dr. Jennifer Vickers, MD, a Board-Certified Dermatologist with Sanova Dermatology, explains that she does think there’s something to be said for simplicity. “I see many patients using multi-step regimens for their skin, and while they may benefit from a good skincare regimen, allowing the skin to reset from time to time will likely reveal unexpected benefits,” she says. She elaborates on these benefits and notes that skin fasting can be “like an elimination diet for your skin.” “By pausing your routine, you may find out that you are using a product that doesn't agree with your skin or is unnecessary,” she says. “You also allow your skin to recover its barrier and to resume production of sebum, or the natural oily substance that our skin produces to keep the bad things out and the good things in (like water) —too much sebum isn't a good thing, but too little sebum can have negative consequences as well.”
We were also curious to know whether there have been any studies backing up the benefits of skin fasting, so we turned to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology. “In some cases, if your skin is breaking out or getting irritated from your skincare routine, taking a break from your products may help the skin recover,” he says. “Other than that, to my knowledge, there is no true data showing that skin fasting helps the skin regenerate.”
How do I do it?
If you’re interested in partaking in a skin fast, Vickers notes there are no hard and fast rules, adding that “a week or two of skin fasting should be sufficient to let the skin reset and breathe.” Hayashi also tells Lively that you don’t necessarily have to go completely cold turkey on your beloved products off the bat. “If you break out or have some new reaction after suddenly starting a skin fast, it is a sign that the skin is not ready yet, so you should slowly reduce the amount of cream little by little —a slow transition is key for success,” she explains. Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, Medical Director of Mudgil Dermatology, agrees that you might still want to keep a product or two in your routine throughout a skin fast and that’s okay. “I would say a gentle moisturizer is one of the ingredients that I would keep in my routine during a skin fast, particularly for those who suffer from dry skin —as we age, our bodies naturally don't moisturize as well,” he explains.