So, “Skin Fasting” Is A Thing, But Is It Safe? We Asked The Experts

Simply: “Skin fasting” involves ditching your skin care routine (or at least minimizing it to a few essential players) to give your skin a “break” from the arsenal of products lined up on your bathroom shelf. Essentially, the plan is to pare back your routine for a time to see how your skin reacts. After a few days, you’d add the products back, one by one, to see how each affects your skin—and whether you really need them.

The idea has been around for quite some time, but it’s taken on new meaning during COVID-19. The reason, according to celebrity esthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar, being twofold: People may face difficult access to refills (perhaps you have a favorite serum running dangerously low), as well as a general curiosity for the experiment itself. You may have already ditched your makeup bag in favor of a skin reset—why not see what happens without a coveted clay mask? “Ultimately, many of us decided that if there’s ever a time to take a break, it’s now,” Aguilar states. 

It’s intriguing, no doubt. But does it work? According to Aguilar, “skin fasting” could help you figure out what products actually benefit your skin. And the experiment itself won’t necessarily do much harm, so long as you don’t brush off your entire routine: “By skin fasting, I mean keeping your skin care routine to a a minimum,” she explains.

For instance, you should always wash your face (even if you don’t necessarily feel dirty!) in order to get daily grime and bacteria off your skin. It’s a nonnegotiable, no-questions-asked part of the day that is imperative for healthy skin. Second, you’d need an occlusive agent—like moisturizer or oil—to seal in hydration and prevent transepidermal water loss. Finally, Aguilar notes, “I would not advise skipping sunscreen. Ever!” Need we say more?