How simplifying your routine and embracing a more natural look will also help your green credentials
Coined by users on social-media sites such as Pinterest, ’skinimalism’ is a movement based around the idea of embracing our natural skin texture and taking a more simplified, stripped back approach to skincare. A growing number of ‘Pinners’ are embracing slow beauty with sustainable routines that incorporate clean products and natural ingredients.
‘Today’s consumers are a lot more aware of how catastrophic their personal care routines can be for the environment,’ says Livvy Houghton, senior creative researcher at strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory. ‘In response, they’re shifting away from product-heavy or ingredient-heavy routines, and leaning towards a more minimalistic approach that uses fewer products and embraces their natural complexion.’ According to Houghton, the pandemic has escalated this approach as increased time at home means that we’re connecting more with our skin and learning to understand what it really needs. ‘Start with less and only consider introducing more once you know your skin better, which could perhaps be in the form of hybrid formulas or multi-tasking products, reducing both the cost on your wallet and the environment,’ she adds
So how can we set about taking a more skinimalist approach to beauty? Step this way…
Could it be time to wave bye bye to the popular Korean 12-step beauty regime? Skinimalism advocates forgoing multi-step routines for a simpler, more streamlined approach and it seems the skin experts are in agreement. ‘There is a huge case for a ‘less is more’ approach,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Emma Craythorne. ‘The skin does not do well with quick changes in routine and overly harsh chemicals which can damage the wonderful homeostatic environment it has created. Paring back your routine ensures you are able to use the optimal concentrations of the correct ingredient that you need for your skin.’
It’s a tack that cosmetic doctor and founder of Medicetics Dr Vicky Dondos also subscribes to, especially with patients who present with skin ‘issues’. ‘70% of my clients believe that they have sensitive skin but while the “sensitive” skin type is actually not as common as thought, sensitised skin is,’ she says. ‘In this instance I revert to what I call my “intervention” programme which is all about paring everything back to basics and often sorts out so many issues.’
According to both experts, the ideal routine centres on just four skincare basics: cleanser, sunscreen, antioxidants (such as vitamin C) and moisturiser. Only after getting those right should you start looking at add-ons such as peptides, retinol, niacinamide and other skin-boosting actives. Understand your skin type and learn how best to nurture it. ‘The main focus should be supporting your skin barrier and the best way to achieve that is by getting the basics right,’ says Dondos.
“The main focus should be supporting your skin barrier and the best way to achieve that is by getting the basics right”
‘Slow beauty has emerged as a counter to the fast-paced nature of today‘s beauty industry,’ says Sarah Jindal, Senior Global Analyst for Mintel. ‘By taking time to care for oneself, slow beauty gives consumers the chance to connect with products and with themselves.‘
Taking a sustainable approach to beauty in terms of what we put on our skin but also in the environmental impact of the packaging plays an important role. Our favourite slow beauty starlets? Evolve: the first UK brand to receive Plastic Negative accreditation. Not only are all their plastic bottles made from 75-100% recycled plastic, the plastic itself is PET which, unlike PVC, is fully recyclable and doesn’t leach chemicals into the soil if it does find its way into landfill. Another brand to look out for is is Ren Clean Skincare who have removed 1.5 tons of plastic waste from the ocean in order to create more than 15,000 bottles for their products.
As well as using recyclable packaging, eco-savvy brands are also ensuring that their production processes are sustainable too. Austrian-based natural beauty brand Susanne Kaufmann uses renewable energy to produce pampering products that work in harmony with nature and recently launched refills at John Lewis. Sustainable scent brand Floral Street clean and recycle waste water from their production process and their pulp cartons are 100% compostable.
“By taking time to care for oneself, slow beauty gives consumers the chance to connect with products and with themselves”
We can’t talk about the skinimalism trend without a nod to clean beauty, the slightly ambiguous term for products or ingredients that are free from toxins. Contrary to popular belief, it’s less about man-made vs natural, and more about safety and ‘doing no harm’ whether that’s in terms of your skin or the environment.
So why might fewer chemicals equal skin gains? ‘An increase in chemicals can lead to a number of skin issues,’ says Craythorne. ‘Acids can increase sensitivity, surfactants (often found in cleansers) can cause skin barrier disruption including drynesss, irritation and eczema, while sunscreens can cause acne if not removed properly.’
Many clean products contain plant-based ingredients but that doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘natural’ is always best. ‘Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it won’t cause harm – some of nature’s best gifts that smell wonderful might be very irritating on the skin,’ says Craythorne. Get clued up on your ingredients, especially potential nasties, and start tapping into the clean beauty brands who advocate transparency in the ingredients they use as well as the processes and packaging they employ.
“An increase in chemicals can lead to a number of skin issues”