Updated: May 20
What is Skin Fasting and Does it Work? Written by @EmmaColemanSkin
Skin fasting has its origins in the philosophies of Hippocrates, an ancient Grecian physician who believed that abstinence can lead to body healing. Instagram has recently revived the trend, with influencers and bloggers posting before and after pics of glowed-up, clear skin following a period of skin fasting. I usually advise a period of 14 to 28 days for skin fasting, to allow a full epidermal cell cycle to occur.
Certain skincare ingredients are known to significantly impact skin barrier function, (sodium lauryl sulfate in face washes, for instance), and sebum production, (Niacinamide; Orthosiphon stamineus leaf extract). These ingredients could cause skin to become drier or more oily than it would otherwise be, and it therefore follows that taking a break from using certain skincare and makeup products daily may give our skin a rest away from chemicals, help to keep pores clear, allow it to breath and rejuvenate naturally. I recommend this approach in my clinics where I see clients struggling with troubled skin.
I usually recommend that face washing with tepid water, natural moisturiser as needed and sunscreen are permitted during a skin fast to gently remove pollutants and dead skin cells and protect the skin from dehydration and sunlight. An example of this would be a client experiencing acne and dry skin concurrently, and where removing an intense skincare routine will allow me to explore the root cause. Once the skin has calmed down we can start to reintroduce ingredient-rich serums and creams.
Those with sensitive, irritated skins prone to redness and dermatitis might benefit, as well as those with combination skin and conditions such as Rosacea, whilst those with facial Eczema and Psoriasis should continue with prescribed creams. People with hormonal skin - around the menopause for instance, or during puberty or pregnancy - could also see a huge improvement in their skin by reducing the number and types of rich skincare products they are using and simplifying their daily routine. Additionally, Acne Vulgaris is often caused by hormonal imbalance rather than a poor cleansing routine, which many of my clients don't realise. They are often using very drying skincare products with the aim of reducing sebum production, leaving the skin under-nourished and dehydrated. Paring the skincare routine down to a simple, unscented cleanser, a light moisturiser or face oil, sunscreen and turning the attention to lifestyle changes as a way of healing the skin in many cases is more effective.
It is important to be aware that sudden withdrawal of certain rich ingredients such as antioxidants may leave skin overtly dry, and it could take several days for the skin to return to homeostasis naturally, which is why I always recommend moisturisers as needed.