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The Rise of Skinimalism

Simplifying Your Skincare and Haircare Routines11 min read24 April 2023

In re­cent years, a new trend has emerged in the beau­ty in­dus­try that chal­lenges every­thing we may have tak­en for grant­ed for decades. It's called skini­mal­ism. The term is a com­bi­na­tion of “skin” and “min­i­mal­ism” and refers to a sim­pli­fied ap­proach to skin­care, hair­care, and per­son­al care over­all. This trend is both a re­ac­tion against many decades of over­con­sump­tion, and a new phi­los­o­phy for tak­ing care of both our­selves and the plan­et. Rather than us­ing a long list of prod­ucts, skin­i­mal­ism em­pha­sises us­ing few­er prod­ucts that are high-qual­i­ty and ef­fec­tive.

What Ex­act­ly Is Skin­i­mal­ism?

Like many new trends, some peo­ple may be us­ing the word to mean slight­ly dif­fer­ent things. There are some prac­ti­tion­ers who are fed up with the large mix of prod­ucts in their bath­rooms as a re­sult of not ex­act­ly know­ing which prod­uct is best for their skin and hair con­cerns. They want to re­duce the amount of prod­ucts they buy, as well as bring some san­i­ty to their shop­ping habits. Oth­ers have ar­rived at a sim­i­lar place by hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced the pain of re­li­gious­ly fol­low­ing the pop­u­lar 10-step rou­tine more of­ten than they wish. The lat­ter group wants to re­duce the time they spend in the bath­room, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing qual­i­ty in their per­son­al care.

Re­gard­less of your route to skin­i­mal­ism, all op­tions are prob­a­bly lead­ing to the same end-point. On the one hand, skin­i­mal­ism is the re­sult of re­al­is­ing that sim­plic­i­ty is a good thing – a won­der­ful thing in fact. We all live busy lives, and there's noth­ing worse than feel­ing a sense of duty to do some­thing with­out good rea­son. On the oth­er hand, skin­i­mal­ism is a new de­mand for smarter, more ef­fi­ca­cious prod­ucts. Skin­i­mal­ists have had enough with over­ly di­lut­ed cos­met­ics that do lit­tle sim­ply be­cause brands want us to buy more and more, again and again.

In a nut­shell, skin­i­mal­ism is about us­ing few­er prod­ucts and, at the same time, stream­lin­ing your rou­tine to still get the best re­sults for your skin, hair, and body. The main goal is straight­for­ward: be­ing able to achieve healthy, glow­ing skin and nour­ished, silky hair with­out spend­ing hours on your bath­room rou­tine every day. The trick is to know how to pick those bet­ter prod­ucts that can ac­tu­al de­liv­er.

The His­to­ry of Skin­i­mal­ism

The roots of skin­i­mal­ism can be traced back to the ear­ly 2000s, when the Ko­re­an skin­care rou­tine gained pop­u­lar­i­ty. The Ko­re­an skin­care rou­tine was known for its lengthy list of steps and nu­mer­ous prod­ucts. It is of­ten called the K-rou­tine, or the 10-step rou­tine, al­though the in­ter­net is now full of all sorts of vari­a­tions on the same prin­ci­ples. In essence, the K-rou­tine pop­u­larised the idea that you need many dif­fer­ent prod­ucts for many dif­fer­ent things. Even though it's called the “10-step” rou­tine, it could just as eas­i­ly been called the “10-prod­uct rou­tine”, as each step has its own prod­uct. Al­leged­ly, the lat­ter name would re­veal the over­con­sump­tion that this trend may be en­cour­ag­ing. In­deed, over time, peo­ple be­gan to ques­tion the need for so many prod­ucts and be­gan to look for sim­pler al­ter­na­tives. Skin­i­mal­ism is in stark con­trast to the typ­i­cal 10-step Ko­re­an skin­care rou­tine, which can be time-con­sum­ing and ex­pen­sive.

Dur­ing this time the em­pha­sis was part­ly on con­ve­nience, sim­plic­i­ty and be­ing smart. Sure, it's much sim­pler to ap­ply one prod­uct to my face than five dif­fer­ent ones. But skin­i­mal­ism was also born out of the re­al­i­sa­tion that us­ing few­er prod­ucts means few­er po­ten­tial ir­ri­tants and a low­er risk of over­load­ing your skin. In oth­er words, at the be­gin­ning of the cen­tu­ry, a new mar­riage be­tween con­ve­nience and health just hap­pened.

Skin­i­mal­ism gained fur­ther mo­men­tum dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, when peo­ple spent more time at home and be­gan to fo­cus on self-care. With few­er op­por­tu­ni­ties to wear make­up and go out, peo­ple be­gan to pri­or­i­tize their skin­care rou­tine and look for ways to sim­pli­fy it.

Af­ter more than twen­ty years, the cli­mate cri­sis is now play­ing a big part in push­ing the skin­i­mal­ist agen­da for­ward. With the beau­ty in­dus­try be­ing one of the largest con­trib­u­tors to plas­tic waste, sim­pli­fy­ing your skin­care and hair­care rou­tine means us­ing few­er prod­ucts and pro­duc­ing less waste. Not only that, it's also worth not­ing that many skin­care prod­ucts con­tain harm­ful chem­i­cals that can harm the en­vi­ron­ment when they en­ter the wa­ter sup­ply. Even though UK en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work has evolved in the past few years, there's still a lot to do and con­sumers are ex­treme­ly con­fused as to what's in­side the prod­ucts they buy. If this is your case, by buy­ing less, you'll be im­me­di­ate­ly re­duc­ing the chances of con­tribut­ing to wa­ter streams pol­lu­tion.

'How Come I've Nev­er Heard of Skin­i­mal­ism?'

At its core, skin­i­mal­ism is about sim­pli­fy­ing your skin­care rou­tine to only the es­sen­tials. This means us­ing only the prod­ucts that your skin and hair re­quire, rather than fol­low­ing a lengthy rou­tine or try­ing out the lat­est skin­care fad. How­ev­er, this may be eas­i­er said than done. Af­ter all, if it were that sim­ple, how come not every­body is do­ing it?

One rea­son may be the pow­er of mar­ket­ing and the mul­ti-mil­lion bud­gets of big cor­po­ra­tions. When one walks into a de­part­ment store, cos­met­ics, per­fumes, and per­son­al care stalls usu­al­ly cov­er a big area on the ground floor. And what is the first thing we see? Nu­mer­ous signs, elec­tron­ic dis­plays and sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives telling us that we may have prob­lems we didn't know about, or that a new rev­o­lu­tion­ary prod­uct is out in the mar­ket, and we must buy it.

A sec­ond rea­son is rather re­lat­ed with the very prod­ucts we're told we need to buy again and again. They are of­ten so di­lut­ed, that their ef­fi­ca­cy is de­pen­dent on us­ing a lot each time we ap­ply them on our skin or hair. Or maybe the for­mu­las haven been thinned down so much, that they must be paired with yet an­oth­er prod­uct from the same brand for them to do some­thing.

Three Steps to Stream­line Your Dai­ly Rou­tine

One of the key prin­ci­ples of skin­i­mal­ism is us­ing mul­ti-func­tion­al prod­ucts that can serve mul­ti­ple pur­pos­es. For ex­am­ple, a mois­tur­iz­er with SPF can pro­vide both hy­dra­tion and sun pro­tec­tion, elim­i­nat­ing the need for sep­a­rate prod­ucts. In or­der to get start­ed with skin­i­mal­ism, look for prod­ucts that have been specif­i­cal­ly for­mu­lat­ed to serve more than one pur­pose.

1. Analyse Your Needs and Con­cerns

Start by iden­ti­fy­ing the key steps in your cur­rent rou­tine and elim­i­nat­ing any un­nec­es­sary prod­ucts. Pick each one of those bot­tles and jars in your shelf, and ask your­self:

  • Is this prod­uct high-per­for­mance? How much wa­ter does it con­tain?
  • Am I con­fi­dent this prod­uct com­bines well with the oth­ers?
  • Do I need it?

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that while mul­ti­task­ing skin and hair care prod­ucts can be con­ve­nient, they also have to serve a pur­pose. Whether it's dan­druff or dry skin, hair loss or spots, each of us may have dif­fer­ent needs and con­cerns. When look­ing for bath­room al­ter­na­tives, you should con­sid­er prod­ucts that suit your spe­cif­ic skin type, skin tone, and hair con­cerns. A reg­u­lar skin­care rou­tine should cov­er cleans­ing, ton­ing, and mois­tur­is­ing.

2. Choose Mul­ti-Func­tion­al Prod­ucts

The next step is to al­ways bear in mind that not all mul­ti-func­tion­al prod­ucts are born equal. When I stay over at a bud­get ho­tel, they some­times give me one those 2in1 body, sham­poo, and con­di­tion­er prod­ucts. They are as bad as they smell. They're free and con­ve­nient, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly that good. Fur­ther­more, they are most cer­tain­ly not the prod­ucts that skin­i­mal­ism aims to pro­mote.

At the oth­er end of the spec­trum, Dis­rup­tor Lon­don mul­ti­pur­pose sham­poo bars have been for­mu­lat­ed as skin­i­mal­ist prod­ucts us­ing care­ful­ly se­lect­ed raw ma­te­ri­als prized for their func­tion­al prop­er­ties. Af­ter more than two years of R&D, we have come up with high­ly con­cen­trat­ed ph-bal­anced for­mu­las that per­form the same, if not bet­ter, than the waste­ful al­ter­na­tives they aim to re­place.

Be­ing pH-bal­anced is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of things to look for when dis­tin­guish­ing mul­ti-func­tion­al prod­ucts from the rest. When a prod­uct is pH bal­anced, it means that its pH lev­el is sim­i­lar to that of both skin and hair. This is im­por­tant be­cause the skin and hair have a nat­ur­al pH lev­el that is slight­ly acidic, which helps to main­tain the in­tegri­ty of the skin and hair bar­ri­er. By con­trast, soaps are al­ka­line, and so you shouldn't be us­ing them on your hair.

By us­ing pH bal­anced prod­ucts, you can help to main­tain the nat­ur­al pH bal­ance of your skin and hair, which can have a num­ber of ben­e­fits. For ex­am­ple, pH bal­anced prod­ucts can help to:

  • Cleanse: pH bal­anced cleansers are ef­fec­tive at re­mov­ing dirt, oil, and im­pu­ri­ties from the skin and hair with­out dis­rupt­ing their nat­ur­al bal­ance.
  • Hy­drate: pH bal­anced mois­tur­is­ers and con­di­tion­ers can help to hy­drate the skin and hair with­out caus­ing ir­ri­ta­tion or dry­ness.
  • Pro­tect: pH bal­anced prod­ucts can help to pro­tect the skin and hair from en­vi­ron­men­tal stres­sors, such as pol­lu­tion and UV rays, which can cause dam­age and pre­ma­ture ag­ing.

Over­all, the mul­ti­task­ing ben­e­fits of pH bal­anced skin and hair care prod­ucts make them a pop­u­lar choice for those look­ing for a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive way to care for their skin and hair.

An­oth­er key as­pect of skin­in­i­mal­ist for­mu­las is their in­gre­di­ents. Some ex­am­ples of in­gre­di­ents that are ex­cel­lent at do­ing more than one thing are:

  • In­ulin, which is a nat­ur­al pre­bi­ot­ic that can help to pro­mote the growth of healthy bac­te­ria on the skin and scalp. In skin­care, in­ulin is of­ten used as a humec­tant, which means that it helps to draw mois­ture to the skin and keep it hy­drat­ed. It can also help to im­prove the tex­ture and tone of the skin, leav­ing it look­ing smoother and more ra­di­ant.
  • Cocoa But­ter: Cocoa but­ter is a rich emol­lient that is high­ly mois­tur­iz­ing for both hair and skin. In skin­care, cocoa but­ter is of­ten used to help soothe dry, itchy, or ir­ri­tat­ed skin. It is also high in an­tiox­i­dants, which can help to pro­tect the skin from dam­age caused by en­vi­ron­men­tal stres­sors. In hair care, cocoa but­ter helps to coat the hair shaft, re­duc­ing frizz and im­prov­ing shine.
  • Pan­thenol: Pan­thenol is a form of vi­t­a­min B5 that is high­ly mois­tur­iz­ing for both hair and skin. In skin care, pan­thenol can help to soothe and hy­drate dry or ir­ri­tat­ed skin, while also im­prov­ing the over­all tex­ture and tone. In hair care, pan­thenol helps to strength­en the hair shaft, re­duc­ing break­age and im­prov­ing elas­tic­i­ty.

Over­all, in­gre­di­ents like these can work to­geth­er to pro­vide deep hy­dra­tion and nour­ish­ment to both hair and skin, leav­ing them look­ing and feel­ing health­i­er, smoother, and more ra­di­ant.

3. Rinse and Re­peat

Af­ter you man­age to sub­sti­tute two or three prod­ucts with just one, you may be like­ly to go to the next lev­el. Why not look at oth­er parts of your body? Fo­cus on us­ing mul­ti-func­tion­al prod­ucts that can serve mul­ti­ple pur­pos­es, such as a cleanser that also ex­fo­li­ates or a serum that also hy­drates. This not only saves time and mon­ey, but also re­duces the risk of ir­ri­ta­tion and sen­si­tiv­i­ty from us­ing too many prod­ucts on your skin. Re­mem­ber, less is of­ten more when it comes to skin­care and hair­care.

Here are some ideas of mul­ti-func­tion­al beau­ty prod­ucts to pick for your next steps:

  • Sham­poo bars you can use as con­di­tion­ers, face cleansers, shav­ing creams, beard wash­es, and make­up re­movers.
  • Creams and lip balms for mois­tur­is­ing and sun pro­tec­tion.
  • Fa­cial oils you can use as a mois­turis­er, shav­ing oil, serum, or fa­cial mas­sage oil for smooth skin.
  • Fa­cial masks with mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits, such as ex­fo­li­at­ing dead skin cells, bright­en­ing dark spots, and hy­drat­ing the skin for a silky tex­ture and a lit­tle shim­mer.
  • Oth­er mul­ti­task­ing prod­ucts in­clude lip gloss or lip tint which can be used as a cheek tint in your beau­ty rou­tine, and con­tour stick you can use as eye­shad­ow.

More With Less

In to­day’s world of over-the-top beau­ty rou­tines and end­less skin­care prod­uct ranges, it can be hard to keep up. But, at Dis­rup­tor Lon­don, we want to em­pow­er our cus­tomers to buy less so that there will be more. Every­one wins with the right skin­i­mal­ist ap­proach: more time for you, more nat­ur­al re­sources for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and big­ger im­pact in net-zero tar­gets.

Skin­i­mal­ism is a trend that's here to stay. By sim­pli­fy­ing your skin­care rou­tine, you can pri­or­i­tize your skin's health while do­ing your part to re­duce waste and pro­tect the plan­et. So why not give it a try and see the dif­fer­ence it can make for you and the en­vi­ron­ment?