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‘Skin fasting’ is like putting your face on a strict diet

Skin fasting is, pretty much, just what it sounds like: an antidote to the the complicated 10-step skin care routines that once held sway over our vanity shelves as more women are looking for abridged but equally effective alternatives. Skin fasting is the idea that we give our complexions time to breathe without being badgered daily by multiple active ingredients. Everything you need to know, below.

What is skin fasting?

For those looking to simplify their skin care routine, taking a break from multiple skin care products for a specific period of time can be of immense help, says skin expert Dr. Harshna Bijlani. “The idea behind skin fasting is to give your skin a break from the numerous products it’s exposed to daily and allow it to reset and rebalance itself,” she says. “Advocates of this trend suggest that using fewer products can help the skin regain its natural functions and possibly improve its overall health.”

The practice of skin fasting involves cutting back or eliminating the use of certain products—cleansers, toners, serums, and exfoliants—for a designated period, from a few days to a few weeks. During this time a gentle cleanser and basic moisturizer is instead called upon to keep your routine minimal.

So what's in it for you? “The principle behind skin fasting is to allow your skin time to reset, rebalance, and potentially improve its overall health by simplifying your skin care routine,” Dr. Bijlani says. “The idea is rooted in the belief that modern skin care routines often involve endless active ingredients and this constant exposure can potentially disrupt the skin’s natural functions and protective barrier.” Some of the key benefits of the practice include:

Natural barrier reinforcement

The skin has a natural barrier known as the acid mantle, or the skin barrier that helps retain moisture, regulate pH levels, and protect against external aggressors. Reducing certain products during skin fasting can allow this barrier to strengthen and function optimally.

Reduced sensitivity

Some individuals with sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea might find that using fewer products reduces skin irritation and sensitivity. By eliminating potential irritants, the skin has a chance to calm down and recover.

Relief from product overload

With the rise of multistep skin care routines, there’s a concern that layering too many products can overwhelm the skin and potentially lead to issues such as congestion, breakouts, or adverse reactions. Skin fasting aims to prevent this product overload.

Ingredient elimination

Certain skin care ingredients, like exfoliants or retinoids, can be harsh on the skin, especially when overused. Taking a break from these ingredients can prevent overexfoliation and give the skin time to heal.

Should you try skin fasting?

While the principles behind skin fasting sound logical, Dr. Bijlani believes that scientific research on its benefits is limited and that its effectiveness can vary widely from person to person. The potential concerns and drawbacks that you should be aware of before trying skin fasting include:

Dehydration and dryness

Depending on your skin type and the environment you’re in, simplifying your skin care routine may lead to dehydration and dryness. Without proper hydration from moisturizers and serums, your skin’s moisture barrier could be compromised.

Delayed results

While proponents of skin fasting might claim that your skin needs time to reset, the delay in results could be frustrating for some individuals who are accustomed to seeing quick improvements from their regular skin care routine.

Complex skin concerns

People with specific skin concerns, such as acne, hyperpigmentation, or aging skin, might require targeted treatments to address those issues. Simplifying your routine may not provide the necessary ingredients to manage these concerns effectively.

Reactive reintroduction

When you reintroduce products after a fasting period, your skin might react negatively to certain products that were previously well tolerated. This can be frustrating and might require additional time to identify the cause of the reaction.

Risk of irritation

Abruptly stopping the use of certain skin care products, especially those with active ingredients, could cause irritation or other adverse reactions in some individuals.

During the period of fasting, be sure to use a handful of very basic products (including sunscreen!) to ensure your skin stays hydrated and protected. Pay close attention to how your skin responds during this period, and if you notice improvements, you may choose to reintroduce products more selectively afterward. As always, if you have specific skin concerns or conditions, an expert should be consulted before making significant changes to your skin care routine.

This article was originally published on Glamour US.

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