beauty

The End Of The 30-Step Skin Routine: How To Be A Skin Minimalist

13/01/23

Author: Wendy Syfret

DOCUMENTED BY: Ryan Cullen

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This article was produced in partnership with TerraCycle, who are making it easier than ever to recycle skincare and beauty products.

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Documented By: Ryan Cullen for RIISE

This article was produced in partnership with TerraCycle, who are making it easier than ever to recycle skincare and beauty products.

Minimalism is in. You might have noticed when you popped into your local cafe and thought: am I allowed to sit on the decorative stone that’s the only piece of furniture in the room? 

Blame Marie Kondo, the Olsens, Raf Simons – hell, blame the person who runs that fancy stone cafe. Whoever popularised it, we’re all reaching for some kind of uncluttered peace. Minimalism’s appeal is understandable. It promises more space, time, money and energy. That’s before you get to the environmental benefits of accepting less is more. 

It’s no secret that at RIISE we’re about quality over quantity. Whether we’re covering clothes or furniture, it’s about investing in things you love, looking after them and taking responsibility for where they end up (AKA, engaging with programs like TerraCycle to make sure that’s not landfill). 

Sadly, those sentiments often fall short of the bathroom door, where many of us are still trapped in the fantasy of multi-step skincare routines and overflowing #topshelfies. 

What is skin minimalism?

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Documented By: Ryan Cullen for RIISE

What is skin minimalism?

The growing cult of skin minimalism exists in many forms. Some brave souls reject all interventions and leave their faces totally alone (not us). Others simply reduce to bare essentials. 

No matter the commitment level, the message is the same – we’re using too much stuff. We need to re-evaluate the products, ingredients and treatments our skin responds to and ditch the rest. Those extra items cluttering our bathrooms aren’t bringing us closer to beautiful skin. They’re just stressing our epidermises, our wallets and the planet. 

The case for less product

The appeal of maximalism in skincare and beauty is understandable. Million-dollar marketing campaigns have convinced us our faces are fleshy Petri dishes to experiment with. Reading beauty articles, it’s easy to get the sense that skincare is a very complex problem. 

But while all this time, effort and expense might make us feel like we’re doing good, it can be sneakily destructive. Speaking to Slate, skin pharmacologist and microbiome expert Elsa Jungman explained: “The more ingredients we use, the more it can damage our skin barrier and microbiome, and the more we remove the essential nutrients [it needs] to function properly”. 

While Jungman noted that our skin (and our mental health) can benefit greatly from a bit of TLC, Slate writer Jessica Defino says: “In general, these should facilitate your skin’s own functions rather than wrestle them into smooth and shiny submission.” 

How to become a skin minimalist?

Identify your (not the market’s) priorities

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Documented By: Ryan Cullen for RIISE

How to become a skin minimalist?

Identify your (not the market’s) priorities

Yes, everyone is headed back to science class with their CBD, LED, AHAs, PHAs, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and bakuchiol but what do you actually care about? 

Take stock of your skin and identify the major concerns you’d like to address. Maybe it’s hormonal acne, dryness or sensitive skin. Never thought about dullness until you saw an Instagram ad with some blindingly luminous 19-year-old model? Then it probably isn’t an issue for you. 

Priorities extend beyond what you want to look like. Your skincare should reflect your values. Care about small businesses, women-led start-ups or the environment? There’s no reason to toss away those priorities for the promises of a cult face mask. 

For model and environmental consultant Dana Lopez, the ocean is a major influence on her skincare routine. As she explained to RIISE, “I spend so much time in the water, [so] I use a lot of zinc on my face and sunscreen [on my body]”. Because of that, her skincare products not only have to “clean all that out of my skin”, but they also need to be natural and reef safe. Those personal factors have led her away from fussy routines and back to simpler solutions like coconut oil to nourish her hair and skin. 

Think about what you use (and enjoy) everyday

Break up with the idea of an ideal routine and consider what your lifestyle has you already committed to. Maybe you’re good about applying face oil but never get to using your gua sha. Or you never forget to moisturise but all your masks expire before they’re empty. The items you reach for and finish (more on that later) are the ones worth investing in. 

For Dana, that process extends to include minimalist beauty. “I used to have so much [product] and then never used it because I spent so much time at work with makeup on that, when it came to the weekend, I didn’t have energy to put it on,” she admits. These days she strips things back. “Now [I use] four things and that is it. [They’re] all natural and [I’m] making sure the brands I support are doing the right thing for our planet.” 

Her skincare routine is similarly focused: “I try to keep it super simple. Morning is moisturiser and sunblock every day. No matter if it’s summer or winter, I always have SPF 50+ on. Night-time is a bit more involved. I use Sochy Skin’s Australian native cleanser, [and] three times a week I pair it with their facial exfoliating brush. Then it’s their rose toner, skin regenerator serum and moisturiser.” 

Invest in a consult with a professional

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Hemp Face Oil

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Documented By: Ryan Cullen for RIISE

Invest in a consult with a professional

So far, the message is very much this: learn about what your own body needs! But also: don’t listen to all the skincare hype! Which might leave you wondering – how am I supposed to learn what works for my skin type and what doesn’t? 

If you need help, consider investing in a consultation with a dermatologist or licensed esthetician. They can identify what to focus on (say, dry skin) and what product will work for you. As dermal therapist James Vivian wrote last year, “Not only does the investment into unsuitable skincare create waste and unnecessary carbon emissions, when used it often leaves our skin sensitised and irritated. The number one culprit responsible for clients presenting to the clinic with hypersensitivity is without a doubt going overboard with products.” 

Become a multitasker

If you’re using less products, you’ll understandably want them to work harder and smarter. Keep an eye out for items with multiple applications. A tinted moisturiser with sunscreen can replace your moisturiser, sunscreen, foundation, primer and concealer in one swoop. Rethink what classics like barrier creams and balms that nourish skin can do; they also serve as dewy highlighters, soothe cracked hands and even smooth wild eyebrows. As Dana pointed out, pure skincare-grade oils like coconut, argan and marula can be used on your face, hair and body. 

Additionally, beware of hyperspecific (often over-hyped) targeted products. Controversial as it may sound, things like eye and neck creams rarely offer more ingredients than a standard high quality moisturiser. Similarly, many toners, soothing sprays and cleansing waters are essentially the same calming formulations in slightly different bottles. 

Finally, beware of doubling up. If you’re using a powerful (and costly) serum or active, you probably don’t need to layer it with a bunch of oils, moisturisers and masks. Overdoing products can lead to dry skin and irritation and see key ingredients interrupt each other. Also, it’s pretty time-consuming. 

Don’t rush, finish what you have and dispose of it thoughtfully

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Documented By: Ryan Cullen for RIISE

Don’t rush, finish what you have and dispose of it thoughtfully

By now you’re obviously overflowing with enthusiasm, excited for your new minimalist skincare routine and ready to throw 90 per cent of your belongings in the bin. But slow down and remember a huge part of this is about reducing waste. That means finishing up what you have before you rush to replace or ditch it. 

Once you’re done with your empties, it’s time to get rid of them. Chances are if you’re interested in skin minimalism, you’re already likely starting to think about the impact of waste and perhaps are trying to stick to products packaged in recyclable materials. 

Unfortunately, the design, packaging and materials of most cosmetics and skincare mean they’re not suitable for regular curbside recycling – even if they’re made from glass or metal. Luckily, TerraCycle exists. They've partnered with leading retailers and brands including MECCA, David Jones and Priceline (in partnership with Maybelline) to give empties a second life. 

A quick check of their website will help you locate your nearest drop off point and get a sense of what products that location is able to accept. If you don’t live near a deposit point, you can also take advantage of one of its “ship in” programs.

While you might need to spend a few minutes sorting your empties, overall TerraCycle is less complex to navigate than regular council-specific recycling programs. Yes, that means you won’t be squinting to see if that’s a 5 or a 6 code on the bottom of the bottle

Think about the future

Going forward, it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to stick to your new minimalist skincare routine and not fall back into your maximalist ways. We’ve already covered the benefits of becoming a TerraCycle disciple, but consider other holistic ways to look after your skin that will help you avoid being lured toward novelty products in the future. Simple steps like wearing sunscreen, drinking enough water, exercising daily and avoiding processed foods will give you a better glow than any serum or mask.

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Universal Face SPF 50

MOTHER SPF

Organic Mineral Sunscreen SPF30

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Pearl Bronzer

MOTHER SPF

Kawakawa Balm

Aotea

Cleansing Oil

F.MILLER

Hair Oil

F.MILLER

Toning Mist

F.MILLER

Body Oil

F.MILLER

The Grounding Conditioner

Sándor

The Grounding Shampoo

Sándor

Skin Sponge Serum

Foile

Terra Nail Polish

Licia Florio

Ritual Serum

LESSE

Kawakawa and Activated Charcoal Soap

SPHAERA

Hydrating Reef Safe SPF50

Sun Juju

Day Cream

MELYON

Mānuka Honey Day Cream

Aotea

Neon Neroli Perfume

Vahy

Balance + Volume Travel Kit

SPHAERA

Classic Duo

Flavedo & Albedo

Clay Nail Polish

Licia Florio

Mānuka Honey Mask 500+ MGO

Aotea

Chilli Nail Polish

Licia Florio

Soothing Lip Balm

LESSE

Night Cream

MELYON

Glam Duo

Flavedo & Albedo

Golden Duo

Flavedo & Albedo

Minimalist Duo

Flavedo & Albedo

Sunkissed Duo

Flavedo & Albedo

India Nail Polish

Licia Florio

Moisturizing Hair Mask

Oway

Moisturizing Hair Bath

Oway

Silk'n Glow Hair Mask

Oway

Smooth+ Smoothing Conditioner

Oway

Velvet Eyeshadow

Flavedo & Albedo

Bright Stripe Eyeliner

Flavedo & Albedo

Refining Cleanser

LESSE

Bioactive Mask

LESSE

Kūmarahou & Mānuka Hand & Body Wash

Aotea

Dew Lip & Cheek Tint

Flavedo & Albedo

High Glow Highlighter

Flavedo & Albedo

Mandorla Nail Polish

Licia Florio

Bean Nail Polish

Licia Florio

Ember Haze Perfume

Vahy

Daily Jelly Moisturiser

Foile

Midníght Ruze Perfume

Vahy

Isle of Blanc Perfume

Vahy

Desert Nōmad Perfume

Vahy

Luna Perfume

Vahy

Balance + Volume Conditioner Bar

SPHAERA

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