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What Is Skinimalism? How To Create A Basic Skincare Routine That Works

Lessons in less is more...

With more time on our hands and fewer reasons to wear makeup, at what point do ‘extra’ skincare routines become a step too far? 

Spare a thought for a minute, for the simple folk – those who live their lives in blissful ignorance, worlds away from glycolics, hypo-allergenics, non-comedogenics. They consider deodorant a gratuitous indulgence and keep a bottle of E45 (the residual remains of an ex, surely) on hand, in their cabinet, to meet any/all possible impeding cosmetic needs.

Contrast them then, with the pathologically obsessed skincare-junkie. They get their nightly kicks from complex 10-step routines that would rival any Korean’s, succumbing to the self-care-induced state of euphoria, hoping to wake only in Nirvana with a brighter, tighter face.

Multi-step routines are much-hyped at the minute, but they’re rather labour-intensive and require a real commitment to the cause. Personally speaking, there’s no denying which camp I lie in, and to run the risk of being one of those people who consistently rehashes Norah Ephron quotes, I’m with the sparkling essayist when she said, “Believe me, if I look good, it’s not an accident.”

But then again, it is part of my job – not the looking good, that’s still very much a work in progress – but the extensive product-trailing and experiment routine-curation. A method investigative journalist, a modern beauty apothecary, if you will. While it would take a skincare regimen rather Trojan to strike me as OTT, I know the minimalist, 'Upside Down' beauty-world alternate version of me exists out there too.

So, when it comes to the age-old argument around routine ‘essentials’, there are points for the hard-fought facts, founded on pure science and counterpoints for the more general theories, supported by no other evidence than good personal practice. But wherever you may fall on the spectrum of soap-and-water-will-suffice to 11-step-as-standard pro, your routine should complement all aspects of life, be that now, with more time at home or indeed, when racing out the door every morning becomes a reality again.

And with that, here are five editor-approved rules of thumb to follow, whether you’re looking to keep your skincare routine to a strictly-stepped diet, or indulge all maximalist beauty tendencies.

1. Double Cleanse….always

If you fall into the first aforementioned category, worry not, this is technically one step and arguably, the single most important ritual you can adopt for healthy skin. Oil or balm cleansers are favourable for removing makeup, as they melt away the pigments, without being too astringent. Follow with a milk or gel-based cleanser to condition and soothe.

2. Don’t Dive In

Employing an entirely new army of products for a skin overhaul sounds logical, but if you change everything at once, how will you know what's working? Or more importantly, what's not working? Start with regular use of the skincare stalwarts, (cleanser, moisturiser) and steadily phase in a chemical exfoliator, eye cream, treatment serum, etc.

3. SPF. SPF. SPF. (And Not the One in your Moisturiser)

Not necessary applied three times per day, but certainly once and in this order. Exposure to sunlight is the most weighted factor related to ageing after genetics, so protect against pigmentation, collagen break down and weakening of the skin’s barrier come rain or shine. *This step is all the more relevant to maximalists, who use highly active skincare, such as retinol vitamin A.

4. Exercise Restraint with Said Actives

Resurfacing might be all the rage, but please proceed with caution. You only get one moisture barrier and exfoliating away older, more-resilient skin, leaves your baby-fresh face more vulnerable to the elements. Acid o’clock is not the time to be imprudent.  

5. Invest Where Matters and Be Patient

Overnight serums (all retinol treatments, hydrating boosters, anti-ageing peptide serums) born from specific areas of R&D, by experts in their field, are worth investing in, i.e. better-quality ingredients = faster results. But note, the skin’s regeneration cycle takes up to 4 weeks plus, which will impact when you'll see the actual results of any given wonder product – particularly one aimed at seriously transforming the condition of your skin.

Don’t miss IRISH TATLER dedicated beauty issue out this Sunday, April 11 - your luxury read free with the Business Post. 48 pages overflowing with new products, trending treatments and industry insights. Pick up a copy this Sunday or subscribe at to get digital access for only €1 for the first month.

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