What Happened When I Stopped Using Skincare Products

There is a saying that if you use the same products for too long, your skin gets used to the ingredients and you don’t reap the benefits. This isn’t something I want to believe when I’m shelling out money on a solid skincare routine. Despite the fact that it’s my job to rate, slate and review the latest skin, hair and makeup products, my routine for all three is streamlined and very consistent – skincare especially. I take my makeup off with a Face Halo or micellar water, cleanse with CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser, then use Pixi Glow Tonic, a light layer of La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ and finish off with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. On a particularly dry day, I’ll swap in the Herbivore Phoenix Regenerating Facial Oil in the evening. With the exception of the odd trial, my skincare routine works.
But recently I became aware of the practice of ‘skin fasting’. Popularised by Mirai Clinical, the idea is that you reduce your skincare to the bare minimum. This is said to allow the skin to ‘regenerate’ without help from potent ingredients. Heaps of skincare obsessives are currently giving it a go so, intrigued, I spoke to consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Hextall to find out more about the technique before diving in. “The idea [of skin fasting] is that by leaving skin treatments, particularly moisturiser, off the skin, the skin produces its own oil and natural moisturising factors. If we over-cleanse the skin this can remove natural oils and ceramides(essentially lipids, holding the skin together) which are integral to a healthy skin barrier.”
Some articles suggest skin fasting for two to three weeks while others say a couple of days per month is enough to see a difference. Despite the buzz, there are some instances where you should avoid skin fasting altogether. “If an individual is using active treatment on their skin, for example a retinoid or benzoyl peroxide for acne, then it would be difficult to be without a compensating moisturiser,” continues Dr Hextall. “Likewise I wouldn’t recommend skin fasting if there is an active eczema or skin reaction. The skin should ideally be at its calmest and not undergoing active treatments such as chemical peels or laser, which need a specific post-procedure regimen.”
My skin can be temperamental but in the name of honest journalism, I decided to go two weeks with no skincare to see how it would really affect my complexion. Before embarking on my fast, I looked to Dr Hextall for advice. “Avoid excessive alcohol and overheated or air-conditioned environments,” she warned me. “If your skin becomes particularly dry, itchy or irritated, consider adding a hydrating serum such as a hyaluronic acid or stopping the fast.”
I have noticed in the past that if I don’t immediately moisturise after cleansing, my skin can feel very tight, but I decided to see what my skin would be like when I used absolutely nothing, and whether this would help bring back a youthful texture and glow or completely ravage my skin. This is how I got on…
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