Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Rithi Choudhury (Journalist) on 06th Oct 2020
Skin Fasting - The New Skin Trend That Everyone's Talking About
There is an unspoken but widely followed code of conduct among womenfolk, and that is "anything goes for beauty and fashion," even if it means sacrificing that piece of a delicious cupcake or running that extra mile for a glow. Something as effortless as skin fasting is no big deal. But how effective is it, or it's some other nonsensical trend that you should steer clear of?
Let's dig in.
Skin Fasting 101- An Overview
Skin Fasting, like the name suggests, is the process of fasting your skin from the products that one usually uses. It could be that you are stopping the application/use of one or two products from your regular skincare regime or going ultimately product free.
Skin fasting aims to allow the skin to breathe, repair, and rejuvenate itself independently. And no, even makeup is not permitted during your skin fasting period. The idea is rooted in the age-old belief that deliberate fasting is good for the body.
The energy is directed towards repairing and healing the body instead of a large amount of vital energy used for digestion otherwise.
How Do You Fast Your Skin?
Unlike intermittent fasting, you do not have to deprive yourself of food when you are on a fast skin program. You only stop putting products on your face - say your daily serum for a day/night or your regular cream for a week or maybe even a month.
There are no complex or hard and fast rules or any definite time for skin fasting duration. You can choose to do it once a week, a month, or even once a year.
Is Skin Fasting A Good Idea Or A Risk You Shouldn't Take?
The answer to this is both Yes & no.
Yes, in the way/sense that if you are using too many active ingredients (or products) on your skin, it is a good idea to give your skin a break and evaluate what is working for you and what you can do without.
'No' in the sense that skipping the SPF is an utterly foolish idea, and you'd be doing more wrong than right if you plan not to put on sunscreen because you are going product free. Remember, UV rays can penetrate even through the windows and will harm your skin. That is why dermatologists keep on chanting the slogan "rain or shine, outdoors or indoors, sunscreen always." We say never skip the sunscreen even if you are going through a midlife crisis because the bad times will pass away, sun-damaged skin won't bounce back.
Other than sun protection being at stake when you decide for a skin fast, the different factors that put you at risk of lousy skin are: not cleansing and exfoliating.
Even if you choose to go product-free, making sunscreen an exception, you need to wash it off at the EOD (end of the day) to avoid build-up. Environmental aggressors like pollution and dust aren't going to be kind to you and stop your pores from getting clogged and causing oxidative stress-related damage to your skin.
If you have oily skin, skipping cleansing and weekly exfoliation will aggravate your acne, making it worse. If you have dry skin (for all the patched skin people out there), then your skin produces naturally less sebum, which is insufficient to keep your skin moisturized, and it will lead to cracking and peeling. On the contrary, everyone has different skin, and some may experience surprisingly good skin fasting results.
Therefore, SPF and cleansing (and moisturizing in case of dry skin) is a must every day, skin fasting or not.
Does Skin Fasting Provide Any Benefit?
You must be wondering how it even became a trend if it's no good? As we said, when done correctly, skin fasting keeping individual skin concerns in mind could prove beneficial for some. With that being said, no trend (whether beauty or fashion) shouldn't be followed blindly.
It is also important to remember that there is no concrete scientific evidence to prove or establish skin fasting benefits. Moderation and a little switching up here, and that could be the key to reap the most out of skin fasting.
Here are some potential the benefits of skin fasting when done correctly:
1. Skin Renews Itself
Skin Fasting gives the time to renew itself through better cellular turnover and repair any damage.
2. Eliminates Irritants
Without being unaware, you may be using some actives or ingredients in your skincare that may be causing your skin irritation. When you skip using them, your skin will get the much-needed break. Often a significant component might not be suitable for your skin type.
What works for one might not be tolerated by your skin. For example, 'retinol' is a gold-standard skincare ingredient because it promotes cell turnover, diminishes wrinkles and fine lines, fades hyperpigmentation, etc.
But it is quite a potent ingredient, and those with sensitive skin might be experiencing its side effects like peeling, stinging, etc. with the hopes that it will wear off. Skin fasting will allow you to examine your skin's state without the present active/actives you are using.
3. Skin Recovery
With all the products we put on our skin, we often treat it as a machine and instruct it on what to do. The skin was biologically tuned to produce sebum for lubrication, skin cells slough off after 27-28 days, and the skin barrier (ideally acidic mantle) kept it protected.
But due to obvious factors, we put external products to carry out or speed up those functions. However, we tend to overdo it sometimes like over-cleansing and over-exfoliating that leaves the skin barrier compromised. Skin fasting helps the skin recover its barrier and restore itself to the ideal, slightly acidic state.
4. Skin Detox
Skincare products that you use often contain nasty and undesirable ingredients for fragrance, better formulation, longevity, etc. Over time, these ingredients harm the skin and, in severe cases, cause an allergic reaction, sensitivity, rashes, contact dermatitis, etc.
Skin fasting gives your skin a break from these ingredients and time for you to analyze your skin's state without those products containing the probable nasty ingredients.
Should You Skin Fast?
If your skin is already in a healthy state, there is no need to eliminate the active ingredients you might be already using. Taking a break from them (say a more extended break like a month) will reset your skin to its original state before using the active ingredient/ingredients, and you will have to start over again.
For example, if you were using an active ingredient targeted for lightening scars and pigmentation, stopping it for that period may cause your hyperpigmentation to return or more time to fade once you reintroduce it again into your skincare.
The antioxidants (present in your skincare products) you may be using help scavenging the effect of free radicals on your skin from pollution, UV rays, and radiation exposure.
Free radicals are free electrons (unpaired electrons) naturally produced by the body due to its metabolic process. Some free radicals are beneficial for the body as it helps in fighting off pathogens and infection-causing germs. But a large number of free radicals enter the body due to the environmental factors mentioned above. The free radicals wreak havoc in the body as they try to take up electrons from the cells. As a result, they often change or alter the cell DNA and lead to premature aging, cardiovascular diseases, hair fall, and the worst of all, cancer. Therefore antioxidants are essential, both in your skincare and diet.
Simultaneously, some antioxidants like Vitamin C and E also help repair and rejuvenate the skin by stimulating collagen production.
Did You Know!
Aloe Vera Gel is a powerful antioxidant.
But if you feel your skin is too congested, then a well-executed skin fasting might help you. First of all, a broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must, and so is regular cleansing. But you can eliminate a serum or two if you are using multiple for different skin concerns. Say, you use around three serums a day. Analyze how your skin is feeling and looking. If it is well hydrated, you might consider eliminating your serum/cream meant for hydration for the day or two. If hydration cannot be compromised then, maybe your product for targeting spots and marks can be skipped for a day, just to let your skin breathe.
But whether it will benefit you or not cannot be guaranteed. It may help you, or it may do nothing. You can try experimenting but make sure not to deprive the active ingredients skin for too long; otherwise, they will take longer to work on or deliver the promised results.
When Do You Need Skin Fasting?
If you follow a seven or 12-step skincare program, perhaps you might consider giving your skin a break. Over the past few years, the 7, 9, 10 step skincare regime from various countries has become quite the rage, but as we pointed before, what works for others does not mean it will work for you.
For example, Hyaluronic Acid is a great ingredient. But it is a great ingredient to use in humid climate. If used in a dry environment without being followed by a moisturizer, it will do more harm than good because Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant.
This water magnet pulls water from its surrounding environment. If it is not getting enough moisture to draw from its surroundings, it will start drawing water from the dermis, leaving your skin drier than ever. Therefore following up with a moisturizer is the right way to reap the benefits of hyaluronic acid.
Overall, skin fasting is not a terrible idea provided you never skip the essential products we mentioned like SPF and cleansing. The skin does need to breathe occasionally. If done once in a month, it is alright as it will not cause any drastic change but give you peace of mind if you can't resist the temptation to try a skin fasting program.