Back to Basics
Why Minimalism is the Best Move for Your Skin
By J.T. Alvarez
The ‘more is more’ mentality isn’t doing anything for your skin. Elaborate regimens with 10 different products, double-cleansing, separate products for different skin types, ages, and genders…the list goes on and on. Skincare is supposedly more advanced than ever. Yet inflammatory conditions like acne are also on the rise. The culprit? Our unnecessarily complicated routines. As CRUDE Founder and Master Esthetician Denise Cartwright put it, “If you’ve tried everything and nothing works, stop trying everything.”
Most of us have long been under the impression that the more active-packed products you apply, the glowier your skin will be. As it turns out, those complicated slather-fests are leaving your skin barrier and its vital microbiome stripped and damaged. The skin microbiome, a collection of trillions(!) of microorganisms, is a sort of ‘invisible organ’ that works directly with your immune system to regulate and protect your skin’s functioning.
Unfortunately for your microbiome, the average shower typically includes a sudsing, oil-removing soap or detergent-based cleanser. Once your skin has been stripped of moisture and its protective barrier and biome, it has to rely on synthetic moisturizers, creams, and toners to replace what you’ve scrubbed away. Plus, it’s more vulnerable to unwanted intruders like pathogenic bacteria, allergens, and irritants that aggravate conditions like acne, rosacea, and psoriasis.
“No new skin care product that comes to market can claim to benefit the skin without keeping the microbiome in mind, using ingredients that support a healthy microbiome and avoiding ingredients that disrupt or damage the microbiome.” - Dr. Whitney Bowe, M.D., Board certified Dermatologist
Your skin is smart
Your skin and its biome know how to keep you moisturized, protected, and healthy all on their own - if you give them the chance. Sterilizing soaps and detergents kill pathogenic and healthy, helpful bacteria alike and harsh scrubs and peels strip away the nutrients your biome needs to survive. Using these products every day, sometimes multiple times a day, blocks your skin and biome from doing the very thing it exists for: keeping the rest of you healthy! Considering all the messaging of the last few centuries, it’s easy to forget your skin is an actual organ with vital functions, none of which include looking poreless, tight, and eternally youthful.
Looking at your skin as an organ to nurture and protect instead of outsmart is a helpful attitude in unlearning the appearance-based values Big Beauty and the soap industry have been selling. It can seem like a controversial position to take in the face of contradictory ‘common sense.’ But, understanding the science of skin helps you get to the root cause of the most common inflammatory conditions instead of patching over their symptoms.
Your skin is complex and resilient. The products you use to care for it don’t need to be. Instead of focusing on symptom whack-a-mole and impossible Photoshop standards, skincare should work to assist — not override — your natural regenerative systems. By reducing the number of products and ingredients you put on your skin, you give your skin and its biome the opportunity to return to the optimal state of every ecosystem on the planet: homeostasis, or balance.
Let go of the complications, the contradictions, and the constant struggle and embrace this instead: less is more and balance is better. Embrace skinimalism and let your nature thrive.
About the AuthorJ.T. Alvarez is a writer and editor for CRUDE and the School of UnLearning. Find them on Instagram or Twitter @judeanism.