You’ve probably heard of fasting when it comes to food, but have you ever heard of fasting when it comes to your skin? A few months ago, I came across a TikTok video where a beauty influencer was talking about “skin fasting.” After doing a deep dive on the trend, I learned that “skin fasting” is taking a break from your skin-care products to give your skin time to rebalance and reset. The idea is that when we apply products to our skin, we instruct our skin on what to do, and it eventually becomes “lazy.” For example, by using a moisturizer every day, we let our skin know that it doesn’t need to produce natural oils to keep our skin hydrated because we’re already doing that step on our own using external products.
Koko Hayashi is the founder of Mirai Clinical Body Care, the company that first popularized the idea of skin fasting. She says of the trend: “Dry skin is dry on the skin’s surface. The moisture inside the skin becomes dehydrated because there’s not enough protection [natural oils] to keep the moisture inside. With too much added artificial moisturizer, the skin ceases to produce its own natural oils. This leads to even drier skin.”
There are a few different ways to effectively complete a skin fast, and some variations are much more intense than others. In some cases, skin fasting can be as simple as skipping out on skin-care products once a week at night before bed. However, I opted to try out the more intense version where I skipped all makeup and skin-care products other than water and SPF for an entire week.
The skin fast routine would be a far cry from my current skin-care routine, which consists of quite a few products. In the morning, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser, then I apply two different hydrating serums, a moisturizer, eye cream, face oil, and an SPF. At night, after cleansing, I use retinol plus a moisturizer, and I occasionally slug my skin for extra hydration. I also use a long list of different lip products to keep my lips hydrated throughout the day and at night.
On the first day of my skin fast, I woke up feeling optimistic. The night before, I used all of my regular skin-care products, so my face still felt hydrated when I woke up. I didn’t leave my house at all and I avoided windows like the plague, so I skipped out on SPF entirely, which made washing my face with only water at night kind of a breeze.
By day three, things had taken a sharp turn and I was feeling utterly miserable. I needed to leave the house the day before, so I used my typical SPF before heading out to run errands. When it came time to wash my face at night, it didn’t feel like water alone would cut it. My skin felt like it had a gross layer on top of it, and I went to bed severely missing my cleanser.
On day five, I woke up with skin so dry and lips so chapped that I began contemplating all the different ways I could cheat while still completing my skin fast. If I applied chapstick to my boyfriend’s lips and then kissed him, would that count? If I rubbed moisturizer on his face and then nuzzled him – purely because I loved him, not because my skin was dry – that would be okay, right? I somehow made it through the day without cheating, although it was very, very difficult.
By days six and seven, things had kind of started to quiet down. My skin wasn’t screaming due to dryness. In fact, the only places I really noticed excessive dryness were around my nose and on my lips. It was still a little uncomfortable, but I was able to get through the day and get my work done without fantasizing about moisturizer and chapstick every other minute.
Ultimately, a week without my beloved skin-care products didn’t leave my skin in any better shape than when I started, but things didn’t turn out so terribly. As for whether or not I’ll be completing another skin fast in the near future, the answer is . . . maybe. I wouldn’t try another week-long skin fast, but I would definitely try a shorter variation where I skip out on using products once a week at night only. Otherwise, I think I’ll stick to my multi-step routine for the time being.