The rise of #NoBuy beauty
While there are still plenty of unboxing videos and tutorials demo-ing the newest blush palette or CBD-infused mascara, there are also a rising number of “no-buy beauty” posts gaining traction online. Instead of showcasing the latest launches, influencers are encouraging us to cut back on non-essential beauty purchases and take a more mindful approach.
When beauty blogger Serein Wu shared her no-buy video with her nearly 124k subscribers on YouTube in January, it was met with hundreds of supportive comments. “I’ve always loved beauty, but it got to a point where it became excessive and more about how much I had versus the quality of each product,” says Wu. “Part of this was the increasing launch frequency of brands and part of it was being in the beauty community of always wanting more. It’s about quality over quantity, clean, ethically sourced ingredients and realistic quantities that I can use up. There’s satisfaction in hitting pan [reaching the end of the product] or finishing my favourite beauty oil.”
Another YouTuber, Hannah Louise Poston, completed a no-buy year in 2018, and revealed that she’d managed to bring her monthly skincare spending down from $220 (£174) to $49 (£39) by culling extras, including essences and cream masks. The video detailing how her no-buy year changed her skincare routine has been viewed over 28k times since December.
The Attenborough effect on beauty
It’s not just financial benefits driving this movement. With the help of David Attenborough’s Our Planet on Netflix and Swedish teen Greta Thunberg’s tireless campaigning, the increasingly visible impact of our actions on the environment is starting to make people rethink their consumption.
“Beauty is naturally a throwaway industry,” says Lisa Payne, senior beauty editor at trend intelligence company Stylus. But, she says, attitudes are starting to change. “[In the past,] if we didn’t like a shower gel or face cream, we didn’t think about recycling that product or finding a different use for it, we’d simply buy something else. Now this wastefulness is so much more obvious through the lens of sustainability.”
The ‘skin fasting’ trend
In addition to the #shopmystash hashtag, which encourages beauty fans to use up their existing products and share snaps of the results, another approach making waves across social media is the idea of ‘skin fasting’. Skin fasting means using no skincare products at all for a day or even a week, with the aim of improving the complexion (as well as cutting back on product consumption). It’s an approach championed by Japanese skincare brand Mirai Clinical. “By applying excessive amount of moisturiser on a daily basis, skin can become too lazy to produce its own natural oils and moisture,” says the brand’s founder Koko Hayashi. “Skipping moisturiser completely once a week, or reducing the amount, helps to wake up your skin’s natural ability to hydrate and balance from within.”
The technique has appeared on several threads in Reddit’s Skincare Addiction and Asian Beauty forums, with people sharing their experiences of cutting out not just moisturiser, but almost all of their products in a bid to improve their skin. And, for those who regularly battle with skin flare-ups, there might be something in this. “Overuse of products may lead to skin irritation and taking a break can allow your skin to recover,” says Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
The skincare expert’s approach
The majority of skin experts, including aesthetic clinician Dr David Jack and dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams, say that cleansing your skin twice a day – using an antioxidant serum and SPF during the day; and a retinol or vitamin C-based treatment in the evening – are fundamental steps we should all be following.
For those who want a little more guidance, it’s worth seeking out the advice of skincare consultancy Lion/Ne, which uses the diagnostic tool OBSERV to scan your skin for underlying conditions and then recommends specific products and in-salon services depending on your budget and lifestyle.
While #NoBuy and skin fasting posts may not generate as many likes or followers as a great contouring shot, the trend is a positive one; whether it’s inspiring people to reducing the amount of products they use, or simply to finish what’s already in their makeup bag before replacing it.