Years ago, the 12-step skincare blew up in popularity. Everyone from celebrities to social media influencers was suddenly using multiple cleansers, serums, ampoules and essences, toners, eye creams, moisturizers, and sunscreen every single day. It seems excessive, but proponents swear that it works. A 12-step skincare routine can give you smooth, flawless, youthful-looking skins, just like the South Korean women and men from whom the method was copied. Since Hallyu (Korean wave) exploded into the global mainstream, everyone wanted skin similar to K-pop idols and K-drama actors.
However, it was not for everyone. Some believe that a 12-step routine is a waste of time and money. In recent years, people have started whittling the number of products on their bathroom cabinets to only the essentials. This means using only a mild cleanser, a gentle toner, a simple moisturizer, or a clean facial lotion with at least SPF 30.
Instyle discusses a shift toward “skinimalism.” In 2021, people embrace the natural textures of their skin, not hiding them with layers of makeup and skincare products. The effortlessly beautiful skin routine that is also clean and sustainable will be what consumers are looking for.
South Koreans Going on a Skin Care Diet
Even South Koreans are now streamlining their skin care routine. A few years ago, dermatologists from South Korea advised those experiencing redness and sensitivity to go back to basics. Since then, the popularity of minimalism in skin care started catching on.
K-pop stars follow it, which means fans follow it, too. EXID’s Hani, for example, has mentioned to Allure that she has scaled down her skin care routine from six steps to just two. She said that the shift has significantly improved her skin. Meanwhile, Jae of Day6 tweeted to a fan a few years ago that he only uses a foam cleanser then lotion to achieve his perfect skin.
Part of the reason why South Koreans have shifted toward a minimalist skin care routine is practicality. No one has the time nor energy to apply a dozen or more products every day and every night. In skin care, consistency is key to getting favorable results. It is also not ideal for wearing layers of skincare products during summer because it gets uncomfortable and sticky real quick.
Back to Zero
People have been using a dozen or more products on their skin that have developed irritation. Worse, because they layer too many products on their skin, they have no idea which one is causing the problem.
It turns out, not all skincare products play well together. Consumers have to first learn how each ingredient works and how their skin would react to it. Some ingredients should also not be layered together because, when a bad reaction occurs, it is the skin that will suffer. For example, using a moisturizer that contains retinol and, at the same time, applying a potent serum that contains antioxidants such as salicylic acid is a recipe for disaster. It will only make your skin dry, red, and irritated. Simply put, people were not doing their research.
Going on a skincare diet allows the skin to recover from damages caused by the myriad of products you use on your face daily. You also get the chance to start over again and identify skin concerns that you need to address. If your skin is oily and irritated, perhaps the problem is not that you need to mattify your skin; your skin might be dry and overcompensating by producing more sebum.
Moreover, it is better for the environment. Buying multiple skincare products regularly to try and to add to your existing routine is harmful to the planet. It generates so much waste. Just think of all the sheet masks you use for 20 minutes and throw away in the garbage bin. A smaller skin care routine is better for your skin and the planet.
What Are In and Out
Your new skin care routine might be smaller, but you can still use products that address your skin concerns. If you are concerned about premature aging, you can still use a serum or a chemical exfoliant to improve wrinkles and fine lines. You also absolutely have to cleanse your face to get rid of makeup and dirt accumulated on your skin throughout the day.
You do not need toners that promise to remove leftover dirt and makeup or adjust your skin’s pH levels. You also do not need face mists that promise to hydrate your skin. Sheet masks are also out because, although they feel great, their effects are temporary at best.
Skin care is different for everyone. People do not have to be minimalist to be on-trend. If your existing routine works for you, it is better to stick to it.